Race Reports, May 2015

Edinburgh Marathon, 31st May

Till Sawala

Till at the Edinburgh Marathon 2015
Edinburgh is a city where I've run in all types of weather; from glorious sunshine in January to downpours in May. This year, for my first Edinburgh Marathon, the forecast looked distinctly like the latter. When the organisers sent out a weather warning the day before, I had all but given up on my target time.

Sunday morning did not look quite as bad; blustery but dry. We had found a B&B right next to the London Road start, so after a short walk to the baggage drop, we still had a bit of time to reflect at home.

The atmosphere of the race began to have its effect, so layer after layer was discarded: first the jacket, then the hat, and even a last minute decision to ditch the long sleeves. I still felt unsure about my pace in the pen and stood quite a way back, but when the time came to cross the start line, I just did not have it in me to run slowly.

The first two kms involved quite a bit of weaving and sprinting, but once we got to Holyrood park, the field had stretched out enough to get into a rhythm. I followed a group of Spaniards who seemed to bring out cheers from every spectator - calling them crowds, even before we left the city limits, would be an exaggeration.

Once we hit the shore, the wind really began to make an impact - it was blowing mostly in our back, but whenever we got to sample the headwind after a turn, we knew we would have a battle on our hands on the way back. 10k were passed in about 41 minutes, and I decided that, if I wanted to have a go at running under 3 hours, I needed to build a cushion up to the turning point, and then hope for the best. I had taken two gels with me, as I knew there would only be water until more than half way - something that the organisers might want to reconsider. When we reached Musselburgh, the road was shared with the half marathon runners going in the opposite direction, and I got the first sight of a purple Striders vest - always a good sign. At this point, most of us must have thought "what a great day for a half marathon", and we ourselves passed the half marathon mark in around 1:26:30, feeling deceptively fresh.

The turn came just after 28 kms, and immediately, the pace began to slow. I was desperate to find a group to run with, but although my own pace had dropped, everyone around me appeared to struggle even more.

Whenever I had made up the distance to a runner in front, he seemed to slow down to a jog, while every group I spotted far ahead on the road soon dispersed like a Fata Morgana once I got closer. At least battling with the wind, and picking off other runners one by one made the miles go by without too much time to think about what lay ahead.

At 32 km, I finally found a companion, and we traded the lead for about a mile, until he too decided to stay with another runner whom we'd passed, and I tried to press on.

Till crosses the finish line in 2:56:25 at the Edinburgh Marathon 2015
Although my pace had decreased considerably, my Garmin provided some solace - I kept calculating the average pace I would need to run over the remaining distance, and while my splits into the wind were now a good 20 seconds slower than they had been on the way out, the cushion steadily grew. With "only a parkrun to go", I was confident that I would reach my goal, and allowed myself to slow down just a little bit more - it never got easy, but spurred on by the now growing numbers of spectators, the last miles became almost enjoyable. The organisers had thought up one final obstacle in the form of a finishing straight made out of sheet metal, but that was safely negotiated, and I even managed a smile. No sooner had I crossed the finish line than my legs started to cramp up, but they'd done their job, and I was still glowing about my time.

I remember reading Gareth's report about his first sub 3 in Edinburgh exactly one year ago, which together with the fast times run by other Striders like Stephen and Simon really made me think that I could do it, too. While you're out on your own running, and perhaps never more so than during the last part of a marathon, I feel that being part of the Striders makes it as close to a team sport as it can be.

Inspiration doesn't just come from the "fast lads" though, and thanks must also go to Geoff and Susan whose perseverance finally paid off, ensuring I kept running properly this winter and, not least, Jacqui and Alister, who drove me to my first parkrun, before I even joined the club.

Results

PosNameClubCatCat PosTime
1Peter Wanjiur2:19:36
1 (F)Joan Kigen2:39:42
82Till SawalaElvet Striders2:56:25
3115Jane IvesElvet Striders4:05:04
4717Angela RobsonElvet Striders4:31:41
5660Brian Bill FordElvet Striders4:51:28
5851Joanne PorterElvet Striders4:56:11

7185 finishers.

Bottoms Up Cup, 31st May

5K

Simon Gardner

I was supposed to be lining up at the Middlesbrough 5K but constant injury problems and not mentally able to push myself hard I decided (or bottled it) to give a new race a go and not chase a time.

The recently reformed Washington running club had put this 5K on to help publicise the club. The race HQ was based at Biddick school which meant excellent parking and facilities. After picking up my number I had a quick chat with John Hutchinson and then made the 10 minute walk from the school to the start.

The course is based in princess Anne park and after a short briefing we were on our way with a flat straight first 1K which then went down into the woods. They did say part of the course was on trail and with the overnight rain this made it very slippy in places. Obviously what goes down must come up and my heart sank at the sight of more steps to climb (I'd had my fill of steps at George ogle). This just about reduced most people to a walking pace.

Once out the woods it was back on to the paths with several undulations I was struggling to find any rhythm (running mojo lost please return to me if found ) but thankfully with being just 5K it wasn't long until we were back on the finish straight crossing the line in 11th place.

It's a very cheap race £5 and very well marshalled so if you fancy a good challenging 5K then it's definitely one for next year.

Roseberry Romp, 26th May

Stephen Jackson

Walker is left mystified after Stephen advises him on best way to get down of the mountain I really enjoyed my first fell race, the Roseberry Romp, which is organised by the National Trust as a fund raiser. The weather was great, course well marked and the race itself was very well organised. Being used to the pricing structure of the more high profile road races, with medal and technical t-shirt etc., the entry fee seemed a bargain at four quid (with a bit of flapjack thrown in). I was pleased to see a couple of familiar faces in the car park before the race and had a chat with Kerry Lister and Helen Allen.

I planned to use the race as a training session with some hill work. I was, I must say, completely unprepared for the demanding nature of fell running and having led the race for the first mile really struggled with the ascents. I naively thought I'd be able to 'run' from start to finish - something I realised wouldn't be possible during the first climb. Once I got used to this idea and felt the pressure was off a little bit as I'd been passed by a half-a-dozen or so runners I started to relax and enjoy the experience.

I remembered from a session with Geoff that he'd told me to 'attack' the downhill sections so I used this to my advantage for the last mile or so. I finished the race strongly, close to 5km pace, in eighth position.

The experience was useful if only for the fact that I now have the utmost respect for fell runners. I do see fell running as an important way of complimenting my training for races on the road and will most certainly give another race a go this year.

Results

position name club cat time
1 Paul Crabtree Wharfedale Harriers Harriers MV45 35:49
8 Stephen Jackson SM 38:27
25 Kay Neesam New Marske Harriers LV45 40:33
88 Helen allen LV45 69:01
97 Kerry Lister LV40 73:20

102 finishers.

Ormskirk parkrun, 23rd May

Dougie Nisbet

"Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt."

-- William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

Listening to a bit of ShakespeareThe weather was calm, the first time for weeks, and the quote was for the benefit of PB hunters who might like to consider, contrary to most advice, actually going off a bit fast at the start. Interesting advice, and on another day I might have given it a go, but today I settled in at the back of the runners and waited to see how I'd get on in my first parkrun since January. I'd been quite encouraged by the Pier to Pier and decided to see how I got on with something short and fast.

Second lap of the Second LapThis is my second time at the Ormskirk parkrun and it might just be my favourite parkrun. It's set in the campus of Edge Hill University and it's great to see it promoted so positively. It's warm and welcoming, with changing rooms, toilets, tea and coffee, a nice course, and best of all, you get some culture on the start line. The usual briefing also included the reminder that under 11s must be accompanied by an adult. "Why must under 11s be accompanied by an adult?", we were asked. "To slow them down!", came the instant reply.

Nothing starts a parkrun better than a bit of Shakespeare How we laughed, but it was no joke. It was great seeing so many young children out today; it wasn't so great being convincingly beaten by so many of them. You'd think they'd at least have the decency to look as if they were struggling or trying. No respect, kids of today.

I wouldn't say it's a fast course, given that it has hills and circuits; two little ones and two big ones. I think. It didn't matter as the marshalls seemed to know exactly where to send us, or maybe I just have that 'still on his first lap' look about me. I got round all the laps and up the hills and finished in under 26 minutes; when I say 'under' I mean in much the same way as £3.99 is under £4.00.

Still, the year is young, and perhaps next time, with some suitable cultural inspiration pep-talk, I can get that down a bit more.

Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge, 23rd May

W55, 16 Hour Time Limit

Susan Davis

Intro & Background

The Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge (JNLC) is a self organised mountain challenge for veteran fell runners over 50. The time allowed increases with age (I had 16 hours) and runners must be accompanied over the route and raise at least £100 for charity. The course crosses the Lake District from Pooley Bridge, in the north east, to Joss's home at Greendale, Wasdale in the south west - a distance of around 48 miles involving 17,000' of ascent over 30 Lakeland peaks including High Street, Fairfield, Bow Fell, Great End, Great Gable, Pillar and Seatallan. Only two women in the V55 category had completed the JNLC prior to my attempt.

For those who don't know, Joss Naylor is probably England's best known fell runner. He has lived all his life in the Lake District valley of Wasdale where he worked as a sheep farmer / shepherd until his retirement. Joss is well into his 70s now but still does some amazing runs and held many very impressive fell running records and was victorious in many, many very tough fell races. Chris Brasher (Olympic gold medallist and organiser of the London Marathon) described Joss as "the greatest of them all", having "sinews stronger than any man made substance and a will harder than a diamond.....the toughest runner in Britain".

My JNLC Day

Leg 1- ‘Cuckoos, Larks and Deer’ (Pooley Bridge to Kirkstone Pass)
Susan and Support CrewGeoff and I left our friends house in Bothel at 4.30am and collected Juliet Percival (leg 1 pacer) en route to Pooley Bridge. The rest of my team, Paul Hainsworth (navigator) plus pacers Allon Welsh and Mike Hughes had already assembled in the square on our arrival. My clothes, food and drink were distributed and so we made our way on to the bridge, a few photos were taken and Geoff gave us a ten second countdown. We are off at 5.30am on a beautiful morning.

The pace was brisk due to a combination of nerves and excitement as I just could not wait to be on the fells. The morning and the weather were wonderful; bright sun and a cool but gentle breeze with the sound of cuckoos calling. Paul surged ahead as we made our way to the first summit. I was aware that I was probably going a bit too fast and Mike & Allon did a fine job of steadying the pace a little. We ran on with lark song ringing out over the fells, the heavy dew on the grass glistened and sparkled like diamonds and we could see for miles as the tops came and went with relative ease. A lone deer stood to greet me on High Raise and this was followed by Jules exclaiming "check out the view to your left" as we headed towards Kidsty Pike and enjoyed a wonderful panorama.

A further herd of deer scampered off High Street as we approached. It just felt great to be alive and my heart was full of joy. I knew there would be tough times during the day ahead but I was 'in the moment' and feeling good. In what seemed like no time at all we were ticking off the last three summits of leg 1 and speeding down to Kirkstone Pass to be greeted by a large group of my support crew with beaming smiles, arriving 27 minutes up on schedule!.

5 minutes to rest and re-fuel.

Leg 2 – ‘Buoyant Banter’ (Kirkstone Pass to Dunmail Raise)
Accompanying me on leg 2 were Kevin Bray (navigator, Morpeth Harriers) with pacers: Mandy Dawson, Nigel Heppell, Mike Bennett and Dave Gibson all being members of Elvet Striders my cross country club.

And so for leg 2, or day 2 as it was for me because, as part of my mental coping strategy, I was treating each leg as a new day! The sun was still bright and I don't usually react very well to the heat so thankfully, the breeze was still cool. I knew that Kevin would steady the pace on this leg having discussed with him on earlier recces that the challenge only really begins after Dunmail, and going too fast on the early legs can scupper your chances of success.

As I headed up Red Screes Dave passed on good luck wishes from his children Sam and Freya both of whom run with Durham Harriers. Dave had kindly given my brother Stan a lift over to be part of the day which had only been arranged a couple of days before. He was there to greet me part way up Red Screes and a brief stop for a hug and a kiss sent me on my way upwards and onwards.

The pacers kept a more or less constant stream of banter going and topics covered included rescue battery hens, Nigel’s idea of a pamper day for his wife Lesley (an open water swimming course at Rydal Water), plans for hot showers and tea shops later on, the various fell challenges already done and those still on people’s wish lists. Kevin regularly checked I was OK and my band of pacers tended to all my needs efficiently and patiently.

The views were amazing on all sides but the temperature was rising and a change of clothes was needed 'on the move' whilst heading to Hart Crag. My Dru yoga teacher was running a yoga retreat at Grasmere that day so, whilst I was on the fells, the yoga group were working on relevant posture and positive affirmations to help me on my challenge!

SunscreenThere are only four summits on this leg and three were ticked off without incident. Suddenly, as I started ascending Seat Sandal, cramp took hold of my right hamstring. I hit the deck clutching my leg and cursing as I am rarely troubled with cramp. Kevin came to the rescue and, as I lay on my back, he stretched my leg and the cramp was soon gone. I adopted a gentler pace for the rest of this ascent with drink in hand and munching some salted nuts.

As I started the run down to Dunmail I was a little tentative as I did not want the cramp to return. On reaching the bottom unscathed, I was again greeted by my amazing and happy support team who were joined by Monica Shone and Mike Langrish as the JNLC ‘meet and greet’ representatives. I arrived 34 minutes ahead of schedule. I had 10 minutes to refuel and provoked a frantic scurry for extra sunscreen. The cramp had been a timely reminder that the sun was intense but deceptive, as it was eased by a cool breeze. Although I didn’t feel particularly hot I knew I would still have been using and losing a lot of fluid. I was pleased to be in the shade at this stop -provided by Mike Hughes holding an umbrella!

Leg 3 – 'The Leg of Gentlemen' (Dunmail Raise to Sty Head)
Joining me on leg 3 were John Telfer (navigator) and pacers Scott Gibson, Paul Appleby (Northumberland Fell Runners), Paul Evans (Elvet Striders) and Kevin Bray who had decided to continue to the very end!

I had not enjoyed the times that I had recced this section as it involves a stiff climb up Steel Fell and a long march to the next two summits. No time for negative thoughts though as this was ‘a new day’ and I was still feeling strong. A steady pace was set and my brother again appeared part way up the fell, but there was no time for hugs and kisses this time as I needed to keep the momentum going to the top of Steel Fell.

My team told me I had done fine on the climb and so we pushed on. John went ahead to find the best lines while Paul A, with my food and drink, was always close to hand. Paul Evans, enjoying a break from his day job as a GP, kept an ever watchful and caring eye on me. It was great listening to the guys on this leg getting to know Paul E - again reflecting on past runs and future goals. Paul A had met my Lakeland friend Raymond Wren at Dunmail and was amazed to learn that Raymond and his OMM partner will compete in their 25th successive OMM later this year. Great stuff as Raymond is 69 and his partner, Chris Lattes is 75! Inspirational chat indeed made the time pass quicker than expected to High Raise. I enjoyed talking to Scott who will soon attempt the BGR. Indirectly this led to Scott realising that Geoff (my husband) and I have nick names for many of our friends. He wondered what his would be. Well I have christened you "the gentle giant" Scott!

We went into Springwatch mode when Paul A mentioned he had spotted a meadow pipit’s nest with five eggs close by here the week before whilst running the Old County Tops race. Today we settled for finding a toad and I stopped to say hello. I thought about a kiss, to see if he would turn into a prince, but thought 'who needs a prince when I already have five knights of the fells with me'.

On we strode to Rossett Pike. On arrival I checked that I still had time on my side and stopped briefly to eat. I had struggled going up Bowfell a couple of times when reccying so wanted to get a bit more food and drink on board. This allowed us all to enjoy the scenery and the slabs on Bowfell were shinning in the brilliant sunlight. I felt very humble as we started the ascent of Bowfell. From the start of the day I had been surrounded by so much love and affection I realised just how lucky I am to have such wonderful family and friends.

Losing the CompeedGood humoured banter saw me up to the summit whilst enjoying some brief shade from the sun which for me was a pleasant change. I was, however, now being troubled by some discomfort from my right heel. So, after checking the time, I decided it was shoes off on the summit to remove the compeed which was no longer doing its job. A dollop of Vaseline was supplied by my personal medic Paul E and I was hand fed assorted nuts by Paul A as I replaced my shoes and we were soon on our way. Polite walkers vacated the summit of Esk Pike on my arrival but I hit a low ebb as I ascended Great End. My legs slowed and a massive wave of nausea washed over me. I knew that this was my body saying it needed more fuel so a brief pause, a drink and a couple of extra strong mints saw me to the top.

Scott is a good rock climber and he just loves rocks beneath his feet, which he just glides over, and here we were on rocky ground. The plan was to follow the ‘master’, embrace the rocks and make them my friends. With the ‘gentle giant’ just a step or two ahead, and the rest of the team close to hand, the plan worked a treat. However, I scored highly on the bad language scale on the difficult descent from Great End which involved a couple of ‘five points of contact’ moves! Nonetheless we all got down in one piece and finished with a gentle trot to Styhead.

I had a slightly smaller support team here but they were no less enthusiastic. With five minutes scheduled to refuel I was advised that I still had time in hand but I hurriedly ate and drank what I could manage and changed my socks. I said farewell to Paul A at this point but John T and Scott decided to carry on for one further top.

Leg 4 – ‘The Final Push’ (Styhead to Greendale Bridge)
For the final leg I was joined by my husband Geoff Davis who had been seeing to my every need at all the road crossings. He would now act as navigator and would be assisted by pacers Peter Reed, Peter Moralee and Steph Scott (all NFR). Kevin Bray and Paul Evans, having enjoyed themselves way too much, decided to continue on for the final push to Greendale.

I adopted a new coping strategy for this leg; just taking one summit at a time and keeping a steady pace. My legs felt heavy now but I was determined to keep on Geoff’s heels and I just about managed this with the top of Gable arriving sooner than I expected. Geoff started the descent a bit too quick for me as, on reflection at this stage, he was probably more nervous than me and knew just how much completing the challenge in less than 16 hours would mean to me. Although I had said that even a few seconds in-side the cut off time would be enough, Geoff knows me better than that, and was aware that, at the top of Gable, there is still a fair bit to do before Greendale Bridge.

The weather was still fabulous with views to die for as we pushed ever onwards. Peter Reed and Peter Moralee were enjoying good weather for once, the latter having done numerous challenges in the lakes over the years and is more used with being soaked to the skin and cold!

The nausea returned while ascending Kirk Fell but Steph assured me that I was going faster than I thought and so I plodded on. It was easier to take in the wonderful Lakeland scenery at the pace I was going and, once again, I settled into just listening to the pacers' banter. With their encouraging words it felt great to be on the fells on this special day. I asked for a time check at the top of Pillar and, still well ahead of schedule, I decided a short stop would do me some good. I knew I should eat and a satsuma, peeled by Paul, went down a treat. Feeling refreshed by the short stop the next two tops, Scoat Fell and Steeple, went over quite easily.Paul on satsuma peeling duties

It was a grind up Haycock with Geoff forging ahead to drive me on and I got it into my head that I was losing too much time. My spirits took a dive and I muttered to Steph that it was like being on holiday in the Highlands with Geoff being 100 yards in front! I was also conscious of the climb that still awaited me on Seatallan. Peter M offered me an apple crumble and custard gel assuring me that it would taste good. I could not be persuaded however, but did agree to drink coke which I hate. Peter R's Kendal Mint Cake was quite enjoyable but I could almost feel my teeth being rotted away by the sugar so decided not to have anymore.

Geoff located the scree descent off Haycock and I asked for a bit of space around me on this steep slope. However, with relative ease I was down in no time at all accompanied by laughter, the rush of moving scree and the odd clatter of rocks as others descended behind me. Apparently, Steph and Kevin were creating some new dance moves ready for 'Strictly' this autumn - so BBC, they are waiting for your call! We all emptied stones from our shoes, with further merriment, before pushing on.

On starting the ascent of Seatallan I had not gone far when I realised all was not well. I have suffered from heat stroke a number of times in the past and it results in me passing out, so I knew what could be on the cards. I told the others I did not feel well and needed to stop. Apparently, according to Kevin, even my freckles went white at this point! I leant on my walking poles to compose myself. I thought of my Mum and Dad, in whose memory I was dedicating this challenge. I chatted to them both, in my head, as I often do in times of need and was inspired by my Dad’s words - which he used to say to encourage me when I was little: "slow but sure gets there in the end".

This was all the encouragement I needed to carry on to the finish so, with my pacers close by and a drink in hand I set off again. It was great to reach the top of Seatallan with just one fell to go. Although the climb up Middle Fell is gentle I could only go up very slowly. Near the summit I was greeted by Mike Hughes and his daughter Sally which greatly lifted my spirits. I had a further surprise when my brother Stan appeared who I had expected to be back in Durham and not on the top of Middle Fell! This final summit provided one of the best views of the day with the Wastwater Screes reflected in the giant mirror of lake itself.

Although, with my sore feet, I could only manage a slow trot off Middle Fell I knew I had plenty of time so spirits were high. I could see and hear my supporters at the bottom waiting to greet me and I was met by cheers, applause and happy smiling faces as I managed the final run onto Greendale Bridge. Joss was also there to meet me, having left a sixtieth birthday party in order to offer me his congratulations, so it was a perfect end to a perfect day finishing in 15 hours 32 minutes. Joss sneaks a pass-out from a 60th birthday party to congratulate Susan

Finally, my heartfelt thanks to my support team on the day which, in addition to those already mentioned, included Valerie Atkinson, Linda Bray, Wendy Appleby, Heather Hughes and her brother Andy. The day was a great success as a result of a group of people I am blessed and honoured to have as friends working together as team. Their skills and knowledge of the fells were shared throughout the day in an atmosphere of mutual respect and admiration.

A special thanks to my loving husband Geoff who encouraged me to have the confidence to undertake the challenge.

Nigel Heppell adds ...

4th May 2015; A long day training in preparation for Susan's attempt at the Joss Naylor Challenge.

From Dunmail Raise Susan, Raymond and me set off up Steel Fell and headed over the bogs of Brownrigg Moss before following the line of a gill just north of Ash Crags that Susan correctly identified as heading on the right bearing for the summit of High Raise out of sight over the brow. As usual I began to lag behind on the steep ascent and strayed off to one side of the course taken by Susan and Raymond.

About 300m from the summit I caught sight of a small reflective object lying on the ground. It was a camera.

A quick glance at the screen revealed a lot of moisture inside so I slipped out the battery thinking that might help to prevent any further damage to the electronics and stuck it in my pocket until we got down off the hill. Once in the car I also removed the memory card and left that to dry on the journey home. The camera was obviously too wet to operate so I put that in a box with some flaked rice to draw out the moisture, but the memory card looked OK so I tried that in my own camera to see if it would work and if so, were there any clues about the owner.

400+ images! The latest were of some walkers at the High Raise summit but the earliest were of one of the characters posing at Land's End - in a distinctively coloured fund-raising charity T-shirt.

It became obvious that this was a record of one man's journey on foot along LEJoG - and he had become a member to the 'End to Ender's' Club from which I traced the charity to a Hospice in Swindon. Prospect Hospice gained an impressive £24,000 donation through this man's efforts, and after a couple of telephone calls they got me in contact with one Al Sylvester who couldn't believe that his camera had been found.

Surprisingly, I'm told that the camera had been on the hillside since mid-October 2014 - I thought it might have been one or two days - but although the LEJoG photos had been downloaded previously, the latest photo's recorded Al's actual last day at work before his retirement from the RAF as a coordinater of the RAF Mountain Rescue Teams so these were precious memories.

Having 'googled' his name to find contact details I now know more about this man than I probably should, but I thought I'd share some of this mountain-climbing, frost bitten polar explorer with you because you never know who you are going to meet on the hills, either in person or vicariously.

check out -

a bit about LEJoG and Exercise Southern Reach

Al did say to me that doing the LEJoG solo was the toughest thing he had ever done, simply because he was on his own.

Take whatever inspiration you need from this tale.

New Fox and Hounds, Ainthorpe, 20th May

9M / 1499' BM

Danny Lim

I seemed to go have gone back in time as I drove through Danby, a tranquil village nestled in the North York Moors. I nearly had lamb chops for dinner, after narrowly swerving from a couple of lambs that insisted on dashing across the road as I drove by.

The race HQ was in the Fox & Hounds Pub. It was a surreal sight, dozens of runners queueing up, surrounded by the locals tucking away into their dinner. Sadly, I was the only Strider in sight. For the first time ever, Dave Parry spoilt us by starting with a lead car. After 100 yards of tarmac, we veered off the road onto moor. This is a race almost purely on soft ground or heather. There was very little hard tracks or stony path, which my feet were grateful for. There was however, plenty of bush-whacking with lots of heather and knee-high vegetation to run through.

The climbs and drops were relatively gentle which disappointed me a tad. But the final mile was exciting as I was chased by a runner that kept trying to overtake me. The nerve of him! I had planned to run this race at a "steady" pace and here I was finishing off with a eyeballs out sprint. I'm going to pay the price at my next race this weekend, I'll keep you posted.

Club Handicap, 20th May

Phil Owen

This is my fourth year organising the handicap, the last three years with Ladies captain Anna Seeley. As a level three coach now, Anna had a bit too much on this year to organise with me so Anita Dunseith has kindly stepped. We'd like to thank Anna for all the hard work over the last few years.

For the past couple of years, when the handicap has come round, I've wondered how popular it would be and every year I've been surprised just how many are still up for it. After all it's a far from easy option and can be a little daunting for the uninitiated. We have tried to address that by putting runners in groups and having lead runners for those new to the route. This seems to work well and numbers have been up every year. However, as the emails came in beforehand with 5k & 10k times it was clear, the handicap was still a popular option but I hadn't envisaged the massive purple posse made their way over to the start. Over ninety runners, a club record by over twenty stood waiting the off! A good omen for XC in the winter, something I think the handicap is good training for in many ways. (lapped circuit, timed and being watched )

Anita and I had disused making the first handicap more of a time trial , as Anna an I had done on a number of occasions and with so many new runners we decided to implement that although still roughly in time order. It worked well. The fastest male on the evening was Michael Littlewood with a fantastic time of 31:57 very closely followed by Graeme Walton 32:21 and James garland 32:24. Conrad wasn't far off with 33:21

The fastest lady was Helen Tones with a nifty 36:04 with Sarah Davies not far behind in 37:16. Katy and penny take note...

The handicap isn't about the fastest and we had some very gritty performances right the way through the field, particularly from some of our new runners, at least one of who shed a few tears but ground a great run out. As I said earlier, the handicap is never the easy choice. Lots of folk had some excellent runs but to pick just a few out, Debbie MacFarland knocked two minutes from last year's time and Denise Benvin continues her storming progress. Laura Jackson dug deep and continues to improve all the time while Phil Todd also had an excellent run. The night's performance goes to Shaun Roberts who I'm sure a few of you will never have heard of. A club member for many years and until recently our webmaster, Shaun has had an injury hell and not been able to run for 14 months. He ran a superb 38:52. It's good to see you back Shaun and we hope the recovery continues.

A big hand to Anita for dealing with the huge numbers and getting the results out very fast. Dave Robson and Anna Seeley were also a huge help, and many more lent a hand. The chocolate all went but all the talk was of the fantastic water melon-apparently it's the new chocolate. A fantastic strider evening, long may the tradition continue. See you next month.

Results

position name start time race time actual time
1 Shaun Roberts 11 49.52 38.52
2 Nick Jones 15 51.45 36.45
3 Craig Elliott 15 51.50 36.50
4 Robin Linton 6 52.00 46.00
5 Diane Harold 11 52.25 41.25
6 Andy James 6 52.40 46.40
7 Louise Bilcliffe 6 53.08 47.08
8 Peter Hart 11 53.24 42.24
9 Phil Todd 0 53.40 53.40
10 Lindsay Craig 0 53.50 53.50
11 Ann Towers 0 53.50 53.50
12 Andrew Short 15 53.54 38.54
13 Michael Littlewood 22 53.57 31.57
14 Helen Tones 18 54.04 36.04
15 Graeme Walton 22 54.21 32.21
16 James Garland 22 54.24 32.24
17 Nick Latham 15 54.26 39.26
18 Richard Stollery 18 54.31 36.31
19 Anita Clementson 11 54.47 43.47
20 Kathryn Sygrove 11 54.47 43.47
21 John Greathead 15 55.03 40.03
22 Rebecca Devine 6 55.06 49.06
23 Catherine Hancock 11 55.08 44.08
24 Angela Tribe 11 55.10 44.10
25 Mark Payne 18 55.11 37.11
26 Stacey Brannan 11 55.13 44.13
27 Dave Toth 11 55.14 44.14
28 Sarah Davies 18 55.16 37.16
29 Conrad White 22 55.21 33.21
30 Nicola Whyte 15 55.25 40.25
31 Jess Willow 15 55.27 40.27
32 Victoria Brown 15 55.32 40.32
33 John Hutchinson 18 55.40 37.40
34 James Potter 11 55.43 44.43
35 Michael Ross 18 55.46 37.46
36 Malcolm Sygrove 18 55.54 37.54
37 Rosa Hackett 6 56.12 50.12
38 Helen Hackett 6 56.12 50.12
39 Eric Green 18 56.18 38.18
40 Deborah Thompson 6 56.19 50.19
41 Karin Younger 11 56.23 45.23
42 Roz Layton 18 56.29 38.29
43 Simon Hackett 18 56.30 38.30
44 Gareth Cardus 15 56.32 41.32
45 Lucy Herkes 11 56.33 45.33
46 Dave Spence 18 56.34 38.34
47 Claire Clish 11 56.30 45.30
48 Nartalie Torbett 0 56.37 56.37
49 Jan Ellis 6 56.40 50.40
50 Catherine Walker 6 56.41 50.41
51 Jan Young 15 56.42 41.42
52 Emma Shearer 11 56.46 45.46
53 Steph Piper 18 56.47 38.47
54 Karen Chalkley 11 56.51 45.51
55 George Nicholson 11 56.52 45.52
56 Jill Rudkin 15 56.53 41.53
57 Allie Tyson 6 56.57 50.57
58 Bev Walker 0 56.58 56.58
59 Laura Jackson 0 56.59 56.59
60 Innes Hodgson 18 57.12 39.12
61 Barbara Prior 0 57.20 57.20
62 Rebecca Hodge 15 57.28 42.28
63 Camilla Lauren-Maatta 18 57.38 39.38
64 Diane Watson 11 57.44 46.44
65 Andrew Thompson 18 57.46 39.46
66 Claire Metcalfe 11 57.48 46.48
67 Marita Grimwood 18 57.53 39.53
68 Lorna Grey 6 57.58 51.58
69 Jenny Search 15 57.59 42.59
70 Debbie McFarland 11 58.02 47.02
71 Helen Thomas 11 58.03 47.03
72 Louise Simpson 11 58.17 47.17
73 John Coulton 22 58.17 36.17
74 Helen Allen 6 58.17 52.17
75 Andrew Davies 18 58.36 40.36
76 Rebecca Talbot 0 58.40 58.40
77 Mike Elliott 0 58.42 58.42
78 Stan White 6 58.52 52.52
79 Aileen Scott 6 58.52 52.52
80 Gillian Green 11 58.59 47.59
81 Kerry Lister 6 59.49 53.49
82 Alison Simms 6 59.49 53.49
83 Jane Baillie 6 60.00 54.00
84 Denise Benvin 15 60.28 45.28
85 Karen Hooper 11 60.36 49.36
86 Claire Galloway 6 61.14 55.14
87 Shelagh Barton 6 62.56 56.56
88 Lindsay Rodgers 18 63.05 45.05

88 finishers.

Clive Cookson 10K, Whitley Bay, 20th May

Aaron Gourley

At 7km my heart rate is hitting 182bpm, I'm pushing hard on this second lap around the course and starting to suffer. I'm getting a stitch so drop the pace slightly. Heart rate 177bpm. My plan had been to run the first lap at a comfortably hard pace, maintaining a HR of around 175bpm but I get drawn into the race from the off as over 400 runners make the charge at the start.

The first lap passes without incident but I know I'm going too fast, I just hope I can maintain it. The girl from Crook AC who's been my target from the start is beginning to edge away having been on her shoulder for the last 2km. I'm getting worried I've over cooked it. Simon Gardner is now well out of sight, that persistent problem he's been having doesn't seem to have slowed him down too much.

8km and I recover a little, I can pick up the pace and try keep the girl from Crook in sight but she's finishing strong. I'm starting to reel a few people in that had passed me shortly before which inspires me to keep pushing. My heart rate rises above 180bpm again as I turn down onto the road for the final stretch to the finish.

Someone appears on my right pushing for my place so I up the pace, I'm being forced to work hard. The guy stays alongside me as we make the final turn into the finishing straight at Monkseaton High School. My competitor starts to make a break so I stick with him, keeping just ahead. Heart rate is 187bpm.

The final 50 meters are battled out as I try to maintain my position before we cross the line shoulder to shoulder. I check my watch, my heart rate hits 190bpm, 3bpm higher than I thought was my maximum.

My time is 42:34mins, about 3 mins faster than my previous 10k at Darlington about 3 years ago. I'm very happy with that as I continue with the deconstruction and rebuilding of my running after some very disappointing performances.

I'd been nervous about this 2 lap race, beginning and ending at Monkseaton High School, as it had been a long time since I'd raced in this manner. Morpeth on NYD had been the most recent. But with a new 10k pb, a new maximum heart rate and a pretty cool tech t-shirt, I'll take it as a very good way to spend a Wednesday evening. Oh, and I got to listen to Sunderland grab a much needed point to ensure another season in the Premier League as I drove home. Perfect!

Results

position name club cat cat pos gun time chip time
1 RYAN STEPHENSON Morpeth Harriers 1 00:32:17 00:32:17
25 EMMA HOLT Morpeth Harriers 1 00:36:39 00:36:37
113 SIMON GARDNER MV45 10 00:40:37 00:40:26
163 AARON GOURLEY MV35 35 00:42:48 00:42:34
242 FIONA JONES FV35 5 00:46:34 00:46:15
269 RICHARD HALL MV35 44 00:48:21 00:48:01
278 IAN SPENCER MV50 19 00:49:11 00:48:55
308 KATHERINE PRESTON FV45 10 00:51:37 00:51:12
379 REBECCA FISHER FV35 12 00:56:48 00:56:27
388 LOUISE BARROW Female 118 00:58:51 00:58:24
394 VICTORIA WALTON FV35 13 01:00:55 01:00:29

416 finishers.

Raby Castle 10K, 17th May

Conrad White

It was a busy weekend for races and we were spoiled for choice (Raby, Pier to pier, Windermere and Calderdale). Having done Raby for the last couple of years – I decided this was the one to do again.

The day dawned bright and breezy, so could I improve on last year’s time? This year the parking was adjacent to the start and finish – so no long dash to the start - which seemed to work very well. There were a series of events, with a fun 1.2k and 5k and then to finish the 10k – which is two 5k laps of the estate – either tarmac or good forest track. There is a long uphill at the start of each lap and a nasty sharp rise around 4 and 9K towards the end of each lap – so not one for a 10K PB.

As is usual there were a number of striders warming up and chatting before the start, which makes it all very sociable. I’m not sure if Gareth and Rob were psyching each other out as to how easy they were going to take it, but they soon disappeared in front once we had started – and from the results do not look to have been taking it too easy. The wind was against going up the first hill, which did make the going hard – but we were sheltered to a degree by the trees to the side. On reaching the top and turning down to the farm – which should have been a relaxing way to get back into your stride - the wind made even that bit of down hill hard work. The views – if you choose to look – are stupendous by the way. The second half of the lap apart from when you come out of the woods is very pleasant running. There was a tail wind on the open section and not too warm. I felt I was going OK and the two laps were approximately the same time so managed the pacing OK. On the final run into the finish there is always a good crowd to cheer you in. Initially I though I was a tad slower than last year but I had remembered the wrong time and as it happens managed a few seconds quicker – so that was very pleasing.

No monster goody bag and T but very welcome cake, banana and water. What is there not to like. Despite the wind and the hills there were excellent performances – well done to all. Hopefully there will not be the clash of events next year and more can sample the delights of Raby – a very scenic and well organised event.

Results

position name club gender age position and category time
1 Drew Ingis Darlington H & AC 1 20-34 35:22
25 Heidi Dent Howgill Harriers 1 20-34 39:36
16 Gareth Pritchard M 4 35-39 38:39
63 Conrad White M 5 55-59 43:41
113 Louise Warner F 3 35-39 47:10
115 John Hutchinson M 11 55-59 47:12
126 Sarah Davies F 4 45-49 47:58
138 Michael Ross M 28 40-44 48:28
145 Malcolm Sygrove M 22 45-49 49:01
189 Marita Le Vaul-Grimwood F 8 40-44 52:00
215 Anna Seeley F 17 20-34 54:06
271 Gillian Green F 17 45-49 61:30
292 Helen Hall F 18 45-49 64:22
298 Joanne Parkinson F 22 40-44 65:28
315 Kate Talbot F 30 20-34 75:32

320 finishers.

Pier to Pier, South Shields to Sunderland, 17th May

6.9M

Dougie Nisbet

At the finish.

It was hard to find anyone who was feeling good. Runners are notorious for grumbling about their form, but we were all in top grumbling form today. One day I'll chat to runners before a race and someone will say they've never felt better and fully expect to PB. Not today though - I was treating the race as a fact-finding mission after a viral infection that has messed up my running for most of the year. The first fact I found was that it was going to cost me £25 to run the 7 miles or so from South Shields to Roker.

The Goody Bag Queue.

I calculated that I'd be running at £3.63 mile pace, which is still slightly cheaper than a Brendan, but that didn't worry me too much either way. The weather was fine and the race is an old favourite of mine.

In common with the Coastal Run the start is a faintly tribal mass of running shirts stretched across the beach. I was disappointed that the organisers hadn't drawn a line in the sand with a pointy stick to indicate the Start Line. I do miss that touch.

Greta at the Goody Bag Queue.

A few minutes after 10 and away we charged along the beach. This was my first running race in about 6 months and I was curious about how it would go. It was clunky at first and I felt I'd got out of bed 10 minutes earlier rather than the actual 6am start it had been. That extra Espresso had been a bad idea too (I knew it would be, but I never learn), and I had to dive into some bushes to redress that balance. This was a bit awkward as I'd only just passed George and Karen and we'd done the whole 'Well-Done' routine - now I was going to have to pass them again and explain myself.

Queuing for the goody bag.

We approached the lane that extends down from Redwell Lane and the usual bottleneck was there as runners queued to get down the steps. There's big seconds to be gained here by running down the grass, jumping down the wall, across the lane, and up the other side. I'm not sure whether people are just not keen on the wall scramble, or they just don't realise how much shorter and quicker it is to avoid the steps.

Graham returning to racing.

I had to pull over for a bit of quality retching as we passed Souter Lighthouse but on the whole I wasn't feeling too bad and for the remainder of the race I steadily picked up my pace and picked off runners all the way to the Finish. The sand was firm underfoot at the finish (has that changed?) which was a relief as I'm sure in previous years it's been a painful comedy sprint in soft sand for the last few yards to the line.

Just as there are false summits, so there are false beaches.

My time was a few minutes slower than the last time I ran the race 5 years ago so I was pretty happy. It could've been a lot worse. Graham Daglish was grinning at the end of the finish tunnel as I coughed in, not doing too badly for someone who hasn't raced in 3 years.

There were a few first-timers today, including Andy James who made the classic mistake of pushing for the line too early. It's easy done - the Finish looks tantalisingly close, but on closer inspection morphs into a flight of steps with the real Finish another beach away. In fact, the more you speak to people, the harder it is to find someone who hasn't made this error.

After a chilly start we had fine conditions for this race today. And thanks to the bus driver's daughter we had plenty of room on the coach as she'd insisted on coming along ... and when the coach is already full, you just have to get a bigger one out the garage.

Results

position name club category group time
1 Craig Isherwood Men 0:38:25.6
25 Alex Sneddon Jarrow & Hebburn AC Women 0:44:26.9
48 Matthew Archer Men 0:45:52.8
184 Graham Daglish Seniors M60 0:51:56.7
227 Lesley Charman Seniors W40 0:53:23.0
251 Andrew Short Seniors M50 0:54:02.7
270 Fiona Jones Women 0:54:25.6
293 David Spence Seniors M60 0:55:07.9
369 Karen Jones Seniors W40 0:57:07.9
373 Nicola Whyte Women 0:57:12.6
418 Jean Bradley Seniors W50 0:58:36.7
469 Steph Walker Women 1:00:00.5
497 Greta Jones Seniors W40 1:00:49.0
556 Dougie Nisbet Seniors M50 1:02:24.7
565 James Potter Men 1:02:44.4
579 Stephen Ellis Seniors M60 1:03:21.5
592 Kate McPherson Seniors W40 1:03:48.8
611 Stacey Brannan Women 1:04:21.5
616 Angela Tribe Seniors W40 1:04:28.9
634 George Nicholson Seniors M60 1:05:20.8
640 Karin Younger Seniors W50 1:05:43.5
647 Helen Thomas Women 1:05:58.8
666 Aileen Scott Seniors W40 1:06:50.6
669 Andy James Seniors M60 1:07:02.2
683 Debbie McFarland Women 1:07:26.9
684 Gareth Cardus Men 1:07:27.7
688 Louise Billcliffe Seniors W50 1:07:42.2
692 Karen Anne Chalkley Seniors W50 1:07:48.4
708 Clare Metcalfe Women 1:08:36.3
747 Helen Hackett Seniors W40 1:10:19.8
766 Joan Keary Women 1:11:10.3
767 Kelly Collier Women 1:11:10.4
771 Angela Robson Seniors W40 1:11:19.3
777 Christine Farnsworth Seniors W60 1:11:40.7
856 Barrie Evans Seniors M60 1:15:47.7
883 Michael Elliott Seniors M60 1:18:10.3
884 Jane Baillie Women 1:18:10.8
910 Margaret Thompson Seniors W60 1:20:59.1
914 Laura Jackson Women 1:22:14.5

930 finishers.

Montane Trail 13 Half Marathon, Sedbergh, Howgills, 17th May

Debs Goddard

View from Calders at the Montane Trail 13 half marathon in the Howgills, May 2015There's nothing quite like standing in a village hall surrounded by hardy fell runner types who are geared up to the eyeballs to make you feel totally under-prepared for what you are about to undertake, so we had a cup of tea and eyed up the post-race cake options to take our minds off things. All too soon we were being piped down to Sedburgh main street; first off were those doing the full marathon, 10 minutes later it was our turn.

This was a tough event, the first third being pretty much sustained steep uphill, quickly taking us up off the tarmac onto the fellside and up over Winder, past Arant Haw, over Calders to the high point of the day of The Calf. A stiff wind kept the cloud off and we had amazing views across to the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the rest of the Howgills.

A speedy and, at times, technical descent took us straight down by Cautley Spout to the checkpoint at the Fox and Hounds pub where full fat coke and a good selection of calorie laden snacks awaited. The final 6 or so miles followed a selection of undulating tracks and grass paths along the valley and riverbanks through numerous kissing gates which nicely broke the running rhythm up just when you needed to try and maintain forward momentum.

The route was really clearly marked, over a wide variety of terrain, with amazing views. We achieved our goal of finishing in one piece and were a fair way of the dreaded 'L word'. As an extra treat a range of freshly baked pork pies, sausage rolls, scotch eggs and soup were available to purchase along with the aforementioned cake.

The whole event had a really friendly feel to it, and seemed really well organised and marshalled (our only gripe was failing to find the event car park but managed to park on a side street with no problem.) We were chip timed and got a decent technical t shirt in the goody bag - we would definitely recommend this event.

Calderdale Relay, 17th May

50M

Paul Evans

Hats off to Dave Shipman. For years he has organised the annual trek to West Yorkshire, cajoled people into taking on extra legs at the last minute and made it seem as if his last-minute rejigging of running orders and car movements in the pub the night before was basically effortless.

So, imagine my delight when it transpired that for the first time ever Dave's holiday clashed with the Calderdale relay. I won't lie: this is a pig of a race to organise teams for and worth it only because it makes for a truly great club weekend, from beer and curry the evening before, whilst plans are still being figured out, through the early morning anxiety about whether those travelling down on the day will show up and if they'll do so with the requisite numbers of cars, right up until the horn goes and the first leg, set off, round a field and up into the woods above Halifax, seeing the front-runners (CVFR A) separate early into a lead that they never lost.

This year we had two teams out, the aim being to get the baton as far as possible, without Will Horsley to drag some unfortunate as his partner around the first leg. In his place Mike Bennett accompanied me, whilst Mandy D and Nigel H led off for Elvet B, and the leg ran as expected - a steep mixture of track, tarmac and moorland, dipping sharply into Ripponden and then abruptly back upwards again at the halfway point, finishing off with a long climb onto some delightfully bleak moorland and a fast final descent into Cragg Vale, where Penny and Dave Gibson relieved us of the baton in 49th place, 8 minutes before the cut-off and the mass start. Nigel and Mandy didn't quite make it to the Hinchliffe Arms handover in time, so we saw Camilla and Anita off with twenty or so other batonless pairs and made our way to Todmorden, where the leg 3 runners were making frequent trips to the portaloos™ [I think Sir means, 'portable toilets' - Ed.] and watching the frontrunners set off up the hill in the sunshine. For us, the race ended here, Penny and Dave missing the mass start by 30 seconds and being relieved of their baton, Steph Piper and Mike Hughes relieved of a little additional weight before they (as well as Angela G and Paul F) followed Mike and Steph up the long drag through the woods to Blackshaw Head. Here, Penny and I were set off by Mike and Steph, who beat the cut-off with four minutes to spare, sighting Geoff Davies briefly before he collected Mike to head for the next leg. Leg 4 was a glorious as ever, with very little time on the roads, a few unintended diversions when making our way through Heptonstall and surrounding paths, and a lot of miles spent gradually chasing down other pairs on the narrow sheep trods and slippery woodland climbs. All went well until Penny turned an ankle with two miles to go, though she limped in at a run despite a lot of pain, having established that it wasn't broken and therefore was suitable for her competitive instincts to abuse.

On reaching Wainstalls, at the top of a very long uphill finish from the evocatively-named Jerusalem Farm, we sat out of the wind, waterproofs on and waited, our two legs done, for Jan and Denise to join us, which they did, not last and pushing hard for every place. From there, we made our way to the finish, Nick Jones and Steph P bringing Elvet A in in 61st place and, a while later having added extra miles and scared the organisers somewhat, who had been considering using the MRT), Diane W and Angela G came in for Elvet B, the organisers having been decent enough to keep the finish up for them and dozens of runners, including the winning teams, coming out of the rugby club bar to clap them in.

A great day of running with excellent company, put on by one of England's oldest athletic clubs, Halifax Harriers: what, apart from the logistics and the fact it seemingly clashes with every other northern race this year, is there not to like? Daring to dream, could we see Elvet C also gaining the prize of the quality slate coasters next year?

Grand Prix Race. Endurance Champion Race.

Brathay Windermere Marathon, 17th May

Elaine Bisson

Having spent most of my childhood holidays camping and walking in the lakes, Windermere marathon sounded like a great challenge. I'd stuck to the 12 week training plan Allan had given me to the T. I had trailed in Jon Ayres' dust as he rallied me along on the early morning weekend runs. This was finally it, this was marathon day! I knew what I had to do "just keep running, just keep running" (thanks Katy Walton!), I actually had a marathon race plan...I was going to stick to it. 3:20...was it too ambitious? To coin Allan's much loved phrase "butterflies flying in formation", they weren't, they were out of control.

It's a pretty low key marathon, registration is open from friday until 15 minutes before the race begins. There are about 700 runners, including those amazing 10in10 runners who run Windermere marathon for 10 consecutive days...their final, our one and only. There's ample parking in the field, plenty of portaloos portable toilets [You'll have Dick emailing us again, I kid ye not. - Ed], changing facilities and even an ice plunge pool if you're brave enough to yelp in public!

At 10:10 all runners are called to assemble on the lawn in front of Brathay Hall and we are taken down to the start line following the drum band. I took my place, inching near the front and looked around at my competitors.

10:30, the gun fires and we are off. I try really hard to reign myself in, after tapering I get a little too excited that I can actually run again and usually set off far too fast. The course climbs steadily for the first 3 miles, it plays around a bit then there is a hill to rival Redhills on the 8th mile. I took my time up it and got to the top with the help of two bag pipers, their music drifting through the trees.

Its quite a pretty run, passing through Hawkshead, along Esthwaite water, and on to Newby Bridge. I was running well and got a lift at Newby bridge where the street was lined with 20/30 spectators clapping and shouting encouragement. For most of the course you get the odd hiker or cyclist..thats it. Oh and trying to avoid the odd bus and car as it hurtles down the country lanes is also a must!

A lovely lady is waiting in a lay-by with a table heavily laden with kendal mint cake, flapjack, cupcakes, jelly babies...I resisted temptation, stopping for a picnic was not on the plan and Jon Ayres had warned me off taking any mint cake from strangers! Then on to the second half back up the side of Windermere. This is where it starts getting tough, just looking up the Lake seems immense! Again no rest for weary legs, undulating as always, a pretty hefty climb again at mile 15, by mile 18 I'd really wished I'd considered a flat course, this was relentless.

On to "icecream mountain", nicknamed by regular Brathay marathoners, a hill with an icecream van at the top and a few cheering spectators. By this stage it did feel like a mountain and I'm afraid to say I walked up that mountain. However in walking I actually overtook the man in front of me who was still trying to run. Encouraged I set off again, eager to make up my lost seconds. My final gel guzzled down, in the 22nd mile I felt like I was flying, autopilot, strong and buzzing from the sugar rush. Great encouragement from Allan had me waving manically, I felt great, I was nearly there surely...then the dip and I still had 3 miles to go, I could see the finish now and it didn't seem to be getting any closer. I'd caught up 10 runners, at the next water station I passed 3 women, this urged me on, I felt strong but my watch told me I was slowing...

1 mile to go on from Ambleside, just round the tip of the lake, over a little bridge, through the bottom of the drive. I catch a glimpse of my eldest Lucy waiting at the gateway. Allan shouts on encouragement to get up the hill as fast as I can (I later find he had thought I'd get 3:19:56...oh dear must have been the walk up the hill!). I push on up the hill. Harry and Sophie are waiting, John is at the top. It feels like forever and my legs are really tightening up, I really want to stop, I let out an involuntary ow!ow!ow! , then relief as it levels to the finish. A small runway lined with clapping and cheering spectators, the commentator is saying my name over the loud speaker, I finally get over the line. A lady puts a medal round my neck and I drop at her feet absolutely finished, 3:20:28! Bang on target! Water, banana, jelly babies await. After a quick change, Lucy helping as my legs keep cramping up, I hit the tea stall...lots of tea later and onto the ice lollies, then gin and tonic sorbet...a little elated and maybe a little drunk they announce the prizes are to be awarded. I somehow bagged 3rd lady and first in my f35 age category...a cup, a tin of Grasmere gingerbread and £50 of asics vouchers...but that is not the icing on the cake, the fact that Joss Naylor is the man to present it to me pretty much makes this day "A Great Day!"

My long suffering husband has spent most of the weekend entertaining our 3 kids and puppy as I have been in a world of my own in the pre marathon void. The best thing for him about this race is that I got the time I set out to get...relief for him I might actually be in a good mood until I start contemplating my next target. The next best thing for him is that the kids were in heaven. They feasted from the lovely food stalls...hot dogs, burgers, chips, candyfloss, crepes, waffles, ice cream. They ate them all. They also went on high ropes, low ropes, climbing wall, zip wire and a fun run...and Elsa and Olaf were drifting around throughout the day.

So they say, "mummy, can you do this again next year?"...now that is a question worth considering!

Results

position name club cat cat pos gun time chip time
1 Grant Johnson MOPEN 1 02:40:47 02:40:46
25 Katherine Cousins Lancaster & Morecambe AC FOPEN 1 03:07:27 03:07:23
53 Elaine Bisson FV35 1 03:20:32 03:20:28
259 Lucy Cowton FOPEN 14 04:01:24 04:00:35
299 Andrew Thompson MOPEN 113 04:07:34 04:06:42
318 Eric Green MV45 43 04:10:25 04:09:36
374 Ian Spencer MV50 46 04:22:46 04:21:42
397 Melanie Hudson FV35 24 04:27:10 04:26:19
400 Dave Robson MV60 3 04:27:42 04:26:50
498 Alister Robson MV40 64 04:45:17 04:44:25
608 Jacquie Robson FV35 38 05:16:17 05:15:25

699 finishers.

Great Wall Marathon, 16th May

Sue Jennings

When I visited China 3 years ago (0ctober 2012) I happened upon the village where the Great Wall of China Marathon starts from. Having ran my first marathon in 2011 and developed a bit of a taste for them, I decided that this needed to go on my bucket list never really knowing whether I would get the opportunity.

Arriving in China 3 days before the marathon, I found the heat oppressive and was very nervous about how I would cope running a marathon in 30+ degree heat advertised as “One of the toughest in the World”, particularly when the weather in the UK had been cold (just 13 degrees when I left on the 12th May). Two days before the marathon, the runners did an inspection of part of the course which I think was done to give people an idea of how difficult it was going to be and at this point everyone was offered the chance to move from the marathon to the half marathon or even to the 8k fun run. I didn’t come out to China to change to a shorter distance and kept my nerve.

On the night before the marathon we were told we would get pasta for tea. This didn’t happen and the food at the hotel left a lot to be desired! On the morning of the marathon we were woken at 3.45am to go for breakfast (which was inedible) and then put on a coach at 4.30am to go the start line. We arrived at 6am and it was actually quite cold at this point. But when the sun started to come up at 7am it got hot quickly.

The marathon, half marathon and fun run all started at Ying Yang Square – there were 2500 runners in total, I think they said about 900 were running the marathon. We were told that we had to get back to the 32km point within 6 hours or we would be timed out and wouldn’t get the chance to go back on to the Great Wall. We were also told that once back on this section, we had up to 8 hours to complete the marathon or we wouldn’t get a finishing time – so my targets were set! I hadn’t come all the way to China not to finish or get a time!

I was booked on to the second wave which meant I would start running at 7.40am but I decided it would be easier to run with someone else and went with the wave 3 runners (7.50am start) and an American lady who I had met at the hotel when I arrived in Beijing. We set off slowly up a very long hill which was partially shaded and we tried our best to stay in the shade as we knew once we reached the Great Wall that there was no shade and it would be hot. The first hill was 3 miles long and took us up over 1000 feet of ascent. At the top we stopped to take a few photos and go to the toilet and then moved on to the Great Wall.

The Great Wall section was very congested and this made it difficult for us to run any of it, although some of the sections were unrunnable anyway as the steps were very steep and uneven and I wanted to get round in one piece. It took us 1.5 hours to get over this 2 mile stretch of wall and we got back to Ying Yang Square after 2.5 hours (only 8km in to the marathon). From the square, we followed roads round and through local villages – local people were out on the streets watching us and cheering us along, many of them giving us the thumbs up. The atmosphere was fantastic! We got to 13 miles in and I realised that if I didn’t pick my speed up that I wouldn’t get back to Ying Yang Square within the 6 hour cut off time so I ended up leaving the American lady and going on my own – she didn’t make the cut off unfortunately. Just after this point, there was a very long hill that seemed to go on forever and by this point in the day the heat was unforgiving. I didn’t have a hat or sunglasses – have never been able to run with either so I had to use water to try and keep myself cool.

What goes up must come down as they say and after the very long hill up there was a very long hill down which was lovely. At the bottom the route passed through another village with more local people supporting runners and then the route went on to a dirt track and finally on to a quite busy road. I started to run along the road and reached 32km realising that I wasn’t anywhere near Ying Yang Square – I had about 20 minutes left to get there. This spurred me on and I passed quite a few runners at this stage and finally got back to the square with just 6 minutes to spare!

Everyone cheered as I went back through the square and was shown the way back on to the Great Wall section. I stopped at this point and ate some watermelon and took a few minutes break before heading up what they call the “Goat trail” section of the wall. As I climbed up and up and up, I passed runners sitting with their heads in their hands, a couple of people on stretchers and a couple being sick. Fortunately for me because I had taken it easy in the first part of the marathon I had plenty of energy left and I just kept plodding up the steps. It took me just over an hour to complete this section and then I was able to run down the 3 mile hill which was the hill that we had started on.

As I ran back in to Ying Yang Square people cheered and I crossed the finish line again with just 6 minutes to spare. I was given my medal and then I had the most fantastic massage which was free!

My final time was 7 hours 54 minutes which I was very happy with as the weather had reached 36 degree centigrade. This was one of the hardest runs I have completed mainly because of the heat but also one of the most beautiful runs I have completed too. The scenery was fantastic, Awesome, Amazing! I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in travelling abroad for a marathon.

Natural Ability Fell Race, Allenheads, 4th May

AS / 6.2m / 1148ft

Jo Porter

Finding myself unexpectedly at a bit of a loose end on Bank Holiday Monday due to it being good fishing and motorcycling weather I made a last minute decision to have a ride over to Allenheads and give this race a go. I was a little daunted by it, not being used to fell races, but had read the race information after Paul mentioned it on Wednesday at Striders and it looked okay for beginners.

Arriving at the village I saw it was pretty busy, I wondered if there would be EOD’s left. I parked in the car park they had organised and walked the very short distance to race registration. I paid my £10, took my number and a friendly marshal showed me the race route on a map. He pointed out where the hills were, in particular one steep climb just before the halfway point. I was pretty nervous by then, most of the people around me were obviously seasoned fell runners, without any fat on them, looking like they could run forever. The marshal however assured me it was do-able, fully marshalled and taped and that full waterproofs didn’t need to be carried.

It started at 11am, as advertised. I’d guess there were about 120 runners. I started almost at the back, in short sleeves having ditched my jacket behind a wall before the start as the sun had come out. It was a very slight uphill start on a stony lane, but nothing too steep. Pretty soon we were crossing a couple of fields, the going was soggy underfoot. I’d worn new road shoes as I needed the cushioning, having had a problem with my foot recently. I soon realised that sadly they wouldn’t be clean for long as I squelched across the boggy bits and slid in the odd bit of mud. It was undulating with a good mixture of surfaces, the occasional stile and a stream to cross, or fall in for some! I was enjoying it, listening to the ground nesting birds and the water rushing down the hillside after heavy rain the day before. Shortly before we crossed the main road there was a ford to get over, which meant my feet got absolutely soaked, at least it cleaned the mud off!

Then the climb started… Suffice to say it took me over 9 minutes to cover the half a mile to 3 miles, all the people around me were walking up what seemed like an endless hill. For fit people I guess it was very run able, on a good clear path through the heather, but the gradient was beyond my running capabilities. The top couldn’t come soon enough. We were then rewarded by fabulous views as we contoured along the hillside, I think the next part was overall pretty flat, passing a quarry, along a pleasant stony track, until we reached the road again. The marshals at the road crossing assured me that it was all downhill from there. They were right, it was a lovely downhill initially on grass then the final bit on the road into the village. I tried to sprint for what I thought was the finish line, and managed to catch someone up who I’d been behind for a couple of miles, but on getting there I was directed up another track to the left, where the finish flag could be seen around 50 yards away. A final push and I was finished. I felt like I’d ran far further than 5.7miles, and was glad of the water in the goody bag. I’d taken about 65 minutes, so it was far from fast. There were also a few packets of sweets, some crisps and a chocolate bar in the goody bag. Only a few finished after me, and after clapping them in I walked down into the village and had a nice lunch at a nearby café, sitting in front of a log burning stove. They’d put a barbecue on at the village pub, where they held the prize giving, it smelled lovely as I walked past to go back to the car.

Garmin shows 5.73 miles and 782 feet of ascent, a great, well organised run in lovely unspoilt countryside, definitely worth doing next year. Proceeds go to a charity which seems to do some great work with special needs children.

Sunderland Half Marathon, 3rd May

Conrad White

objects in the rear-view mirror may be purpler than they appear Icy blast, torrential rain, no visibility – was this some wild adventure on remotest moorland and hills? No, this was bank holiday Sunday in Sunderland. Maybe I am exaggerating. Considering all the lovely weather we have had recently this was the worst for some time. Wet, cold and limited visibility. Just for a limited time only – as I type this 5 hours later the sky is blue, the wind has dropped and all is well again (and the garden has been watered). Fortunately there was no chance of going off course. I feel sorry for the organisers and exceedingly grateful for the crowds and marshals who turned out – pointing us around the course and offering words of encouragement. I think the original plan was for some happy clappy warm up at the start – either I missed it or it did not happen as everyone seemed to be huddled within the mighty stadium of light until the last possible minute. I did venture out briefly into the rain to see the start of the 10k – who came to a bottleneck halt after 100 metres due to “water in the road” – a big puddle. Mental note miss that bit – get near the front.

Before waking on Sunday morning I had been hoping for an improvement on my last half at Redcar 18 months ago. I had done some training and a couple of 10K races in the last two weeks. I even resisted the temptation of a parkrun on Saturday so my legs could be as fresh as possible. I was hopeful and feeling quite fit. The aim was to be between 1.30 and 1.35 and as close to 1.30 as possible. Can I get under 1.30 again or is that just a dream too far? – A bit like I’m trying for a sub 20 minute Durham parkrun.

The course sets off from the stadium of light, over the Monkwearmouth bridge and does a couple of slightly convoluted loops around mainly residential streets before crossing the bridge again and out along past St Peter’s, the sea front, Roker park and back. Pavement corners were potentially a bit tricky, so I kept on the tarmac. Due to the climactic conditions visibility for those in glasses was to say the least –poor. It was like looking through a misted car windscreen in the rain when the wipers don’t work – photo obviously not taken on route but gives an idea to those of you without glasses what I was seeing – or not.

We crossed the bridge for the first time as the 10K was coming the other way, and around our 10K the course doubles back on itself. I was able to see Jane coming the other way and we gave each other a cheer. (By the time we passed again when I had just over a mile to go I waved but was unable to cheer.) I also saw Ian and we acknowledged each other. By the time I reached the bridge again I was still feeling fair but knew the sub 1.30 was not realistic. Undulations (relatively minor) and wind taking those vital seconds away. Along to Roker I saw the leaders coming the other way – good to see what happens at the front of a race. As we came around to the sea front all I could think of was “British Bank Holiday”! There was low cloud/grey mist, white horses and breakers on the sea and a biting wind. Returning on the same bit of road after Roker Park I knew my pace had dropped again (quite a strong wind against at this point) but I had been working hard and once we turned the corner I was able to regain some pace. I lost a handful of places in the final run in.

However all was good – 3 minutes quicker than Redcar! A top 100 finish, a medal, a dayglo yellow tee shirt (to replace the fluorescent orange Darlington 10K from 2013 that my wife was not willing to give house room to it is so bright that I discarded at the start), a not so quick change into dry clothing with cold hands and into the coffee shop. Can I realize my aspirations – I will have to enter another – hopefully to be run in conditions more conducive to another PB. Tantalizingly close, yet so far.

Well done to everyone who was out – runners, spectators, organisers – in what were quite frankly not very pleasant conditions for a May road 10K.

Results

PosNameClubCatCatposTime
1Tadele MulugetaElswick HarriersM11:11:24
63Louise RogersTyne Bridge HarriersF4011:28:41
96Conrad WhiteM5081:31:31
234Craig WalkerM50251:40:41
247Fiona JonesF151:40:46
314David LumsdonM50351:44:04
342Jane IvesF40151:45:32
569Andrew DaviesM2351:55:15
742Ian SpencerM50852:03:44
781Kim BennetF40672:06:29

1021 finishers

Sunderland City 10K, 3rd May

Stephen Jackson

It's just a jump to the left! The opportunity to run a 10k on my home turf had really appealed to me but the timing just wasn’t right. I’d driven past the posters on my way to work for months but was undecided as to whether I should enter or not as I was too focused on training for Manchester. I made an eleventh hour decision to enter the week of the race and hoped I could run a good time on the back of my marathon training.

It was shaping up to be a nice day; with my family in attendance to cheer me on. I even had visions of heading for an ice cream by the seaside afterwards. Unfortunately, the conditions were very, very poor. Heavy rain, low temperatures and howling winds swept across the start line. To be honest, I was dreading it.

After a slightly delayed start we were moving, which was a welcome relief as my limbs were numb. I’d identified at least a dozen very fast runners at the front and tucked in behind with a runner I’m familiar with from Sedgefield Harriers.

I was happy with the run and on another day could have run a PB. All runners were hampered by a lot of surface water and faced with strong winds off the coast - although the rain had subsided a little. I went through halfway in 18:02 so was on course to get near to my 36 minute target but by 7km I had already talked myself out of it. After an extremely windy segment between 7km and 9km I finished strongly, passing 2-3 runners and finished in a time of 36:42 [chip time]. It was a well organised race and the stadium was an ideal venue for toilet facilities, baggage drop and (most importantly) shelter. However, my overriding memory will be the wind and the rain which is a shame.

Goody bag was ok, nowt flash. Technical T-Shirt, medal and a few other promotional bits and bobs. I swiftly departed for a hot shower, beans on toast and a cup of coffee. I then began to hatch a plan to break 36 minutes this year. We’ll see.

Results

position name cat cat pos chip time gun time
1 Wondiye Indelbu M 1 00:32:50 00:32:50
7 Aly Dixon F 1 00:34:50 00:34:50
16 Stephen Jackson M 9 00:36:42 00:36:44
46 Matthew Archer M 27 00:40:08 00:40:08
188 Sarah Davies F40 3 00:47:33 00:47:36
306 Richard Hall M50 24 00:48:53 00:50:40
639 Stephen Ellis M60 16 00:55:51 00:56:39
778 Rebecca Fisher F 142 00:57:24 00:58:56
845 George Nicholson M60 21 00:59:04 01:00:04
874 Clare Metcalfe F 167 00:59:36 01:00:39
988 Helen Hall F40 94 01:00:57 01:02:45
1109 Matthew Crow M 418 01:03:26 01:05:09
1184 Catherine Walker F50 34 01:05:19 01:06:35
1185 Karrie Rutherford F 278 01:05:18 01:06:35
1186 Gail Craig F40 140 01:05:18 01:06:36
1240 Alison Simms F40 149 01:06:41 01:07:43
1275 Laura Gibson F 315 01:07:01 01:08:19
1276 Natalie Johnson F 316 01:07:01 01:08:19
1359 Mike Elliott M60 30 01:08:58 01:10:35
1426 Laura Jackson F 373 01:12:02 01:12:26
1495 Katharine Bartlett F40 214 01:15:28 01:16:31

1634 finishers.

Hardmoors White Horse marathon, Sutton Bank, North Yorks, 3rd May

27m

Dave Robson

It has been a while since our last marathon. However, we had been on holiday recently and covered about 55 miles, so we thought that might keep us in some sort of form. We are now doubting that our training was good enough, because we found this marathon very hard. I completely ran out of energy towards the end and walked most of the last four miles which were an uphill drag. This may be partly to do with just getting over a cold which lasted a few days last week.

ever so slightly spooky

The route looked stunningly attractive on all the photos that course markers put on Facebook. When we arrived it was just throwing it down with rain with a strong wind from the east. The views from Sutton Bank should have been fantastic, but visibility was very poor. The marshalls did an amazing job out there, it must have been grim standing around in that. We did the entire event in full waterproofs top and bottoms.

The route followed the Cleveland Way north for a short while and then descended steeply to Gormire Lake. That descent was made a bit more hazardous as many of the leading runners missed the turn down to the lake (I guess the tape had been removed) and came form behind and flew past very close. We were more sheltered round the lake but then we had an enormous climb back up again to the Cleveland Way where we met the full fury of the weather again. My calf also started to tweek on that climb which felt a bit ominous given it was so early in the race. However, as it turned out it didn't get any worse.

We followed the Cleveland Way past the first checkpoint at High Paradise farm and then onto the moors. We then had to turn east into the strong wind and heavy rain. We walked that stretch, but it wasn't long before we descended steeply and things calmed down a bit. From there we went up and down and went through some very muddy sections until shortly after the second checkpoint, Melanie had a big fall on to a hard surface. She had some pain at the time, but hoped it would get better, but she was feeling her knee for the rest of the race.

Melanie feeling her medal as well as her knee

We reached Hawnby which was followed by a steep climb up Hawnby Hill and down the other side (yet another tricky descent) to checkpoint 3, which was just under halfway. Then yet another climb over the shoulder of another hill, another tricky descent and then a lovely downhill run across fields, before a 1:4 ascent up a road to a checkpoint where it was great to see Denise Benvin who was marshalling there.

Then into a forest and private land, where the track turned into a mud bath. Again there was a tricky descent and a muddy ascent. We turned a corner on that ascent to see the track covered in debris left after tree felling. It was hard to believe that was the route, but tape was there and our Garmins seemed to indicate that was the right way.

The route levelled out a bit after this and we went past the lovely Rievaux Abbey which looked great with the clouds on the hills behind. Flip was marshalling there and he had saved us some jaffa cakes to eat

Flip on marshall and Jaffa Cake duties

Then back on to the Cleveland Way and we reached the final checkpoint which was manned by Anita and Mark. It was great to see them before we started the drag upwards to the finish at Sutton Bank. We had sunshine in those last four miles and the views at the end were great, it was just sad we didn't get them at the start.

Other Striders who were doing the marathon were David Brown, Jules Percival and Andrew Thompson. We didn't see them after the start and they all did faster times than us. There were also quite a number of Striders doing the half marathon and 10K and I think everybody got very wet !

Dave out on the course

Great route and yes, I would probably do it again. This event was also the first time I had done any serious distance in my new Scott Kinabalu Supertrac™ shoes. Their grip was excellent and the cushioning was good as well - I like to have cushioning in my running shoes.