Race Reports, November 2015

Grand Prix Race. Mud King/Mud Queen Race.

Mud, Wind and Rain - Again!

Harrier League, Druridge Bay, 28th November

Mudman ...

The Harrier League road show moved on to Druridge Bay for the first time on Saturday. Mudwoman and I arrived in good time, with the Striders tent and flag, only to see another club's tent (identical to ours) flattened by the strong gusty wind. Flags and tents were flapping and leaning alarmingly as we unpacked our faithful shelter. With careful planning and speedy execution the thing was up in quick time without (major) incident and ready for the arrival of the Striders bus.

Cold Wet Muddy

The course was situated within the Druridge Bay nature reserve just behind the coastal dunes. With undulations rather than hills it promised to favour the speedy road runners - if it hadn't been for the copious amounts of mud, a wind that was gathering in strength and heavy showers that were rattling through every few minutes. A surprisingly large field, given that Aykley Heads was just a week before, and a Strider turnout of 42 runners promised a competitive race and that's just what we saw in both the Senior Women's and Senior Men's races.

The Hair has itOlivia Neal running for Striders for the first time (but as a non-counter while her 'transfer' goes through) had a brilliant run being first Strider home in 18th place and achieving promotion to the medium pack. Well done Olivia! I'm sure this will be the first of many great achievements in the purple vest! Not far behind Olivia was the experienced Sarah Davies battling through the tough conditions to also achieve medium pack status for the first time. Sarah was followed by the even more experienced Mandy who's been competing in x/c since she first broke into a run as a toddler. The counters were completed by Elaine Bisson running from the medium pack (excellent!) and our international veteran x/c runner Fiona Shenton - a role model for the younger women (and men) in the club.

Elaine on form. These front running Striderettes were supported as ever by the 'sea of purple' putting in some brilliant performances such as Rachelle Mason showing great promise, Lucy Cowton a welcome return and brimming over with enthusiasm, Diane Watson - straight back on board at the earliest opportunity, Jan Ellis showing grit and determination and Jennifer Cowen on her HL debut bravely fighting through the challenging conditions. Well done to you all! An eighth place finish on the day and likewise for the season so far but things are very close and the Striderettes are just one point behind the fifth placed club - so come on, we know you can power up that league table during the second half of the season!

Old Tom The course was at its muddiest for the men's race but this didn't put anyone off! Least of all Simon Gardner who had the x/c race of his life leading the team home and qualifying for the medium pack for the first time. Well done Simon! Rumour has it you were even heard to say you 'enjoyed it'. Just a few seconds behind Simon was Mark Warner - Striders' 'Flying Dentist' who in just his second HL also achieved medium pack status - brilliant! Third counter was the impressive Michael Mason, also running in just his second HL for Striders, Michael just missed emulating Penny's achievement of last season, of going from slow pack to medium to fast in successive races, by six seconds - an incredible run. The counters were completed by the ever improving Jack Lee and Matt Archer and finally by 'Old Tom' - no not a real ale but a tough, determined & committed runner - well done the lot o'ya!

Adam enjoying himself way too much!Just as in the women's race the counters were supported by a team to make the club justly proud including Stephen running from the fast pack (and 500m further than the rest of the field!), Shaun the Sheep back in the fold (pun intended) on a regular basis now, John Hutch - part of the Striders' furniture grafting once more through the mud, Adam Bent - seeming to enjoy his running far too much, Dave Spence - a very respectable performance from Striders' 'senior' man and Stephen Ellis making it a family day out. Many thanks to you all and well done! The men's team put in a brilliant performance to finish in third place on the day and an incredible third place for the season so far - just one point behind the second place club and just two behind the leader! This is our best start to the season for many a long year. Wouldn't it be great if we were one of the two clubs to be promoted to Division 1 in this our 30th anniversary year?! It's in our own hands - we need our runners to commit to turning out for the final three fixtures and running their hearts out - come on, let's go to it!

Tentus Destructus

... Dave Spence

Dave Mud, Mud glorious mud nothing quite like it for ...

Saturday 28th Nov dawns dry. But the weather forecast suggests rain and strong wind but maybe not in the sliver of Northumberland where Druridge Bay lies. This was to be my second ever cross country.

But with a confident step I made my way to the bus pick up.

The weather seemed to be holding up as we arrived at Druridge Bay and made (plodged) our way to the tent encampment. Things were not looking good with people in purple fighting to erect a tent which wanted to fly across the North Sea to Scandinavia. In the end defeat was acknowledged and the prospect of changing in the now near gale winds and rain in the open looked likely. But behold it wasn't the Strider tent. This had been erected earlier by our two tent professionals Susan and Geoff next to this errant one. Phew!!!

So with as many clothes on as possible and the women huddled in the tent we waited the start of the senior races.

Having cheered on the women's competitors and taking note of the reports they reported back from the front of the mud and warm running conditions we reported to the start and after a rather chaotic beginning settled into the race. Having started near the back I made forward progress by sliding, squelching, sinking, splodging, slurping through the many stretches of muddy gloop. But I managed to pass a number who were even slower than me. Then on the last lap I saw Adam Bent ahead of me and to my surprise I was closing on him. As I got up to him I cheekily suggested we should finish together but somehow he found something extra and I couldn't so I watched him disappear ahead of me. Maybe next time.

I did however pick up my pace in the finishing straight with a rare burst of speed ( well humour never goes amiss) when voices told me another Strider was after me. Oh stupid pride thou willst be the death of me!!

Mud, mud, glorious mud ...Then it was back to the bosom of the tent, cake of all descriptions and changing on a wet field. I declined changing in the tent since there was a danger in my exhausted state of falling over and drowning in the lake inside the tent. Back to the bus with a well prepared driver already with clean plastic bags to put our shoes in and a relaxed drive home.

So did I enjoy the race? I must admit enjoyment is not a word I would use but I am glad I did it and now roll on the Town Moor. But after that I must remember not to put my smartphone in my rucksack and then put the rucksack and phone in the washing machine. Did I mention it was an expensive experience?

Mud, mud, vain glorious mud ...

Results

Men
position bib name cat pack race time actual time
1 825 Graeme Taylor (Morpeth Harriers) Msen S 35:15 35:15
19 546 Simon Gardner MV45 S 40:50 40:50
21 1345 Mark Warner MV35 S 40:56 40:56
64 1346 Michael Mason MV40 M 42:18 39:48
94 513 Jack Lee Msen S 42:43 42:43
154 528 Matthew Archer Msen S 43:48 43:48
192 552 Tom Reeves MV45 S 44:32 44:32
234 549 Stephen Jackson Msen F 45:19 40:19
324 533 Mike Bennett MV60 S 47:24 47:24
340 1882 Steve Lindsay MV55 S 47:54 47:54
386 545 Shaun Roberts MV55 S 49:22 49:22
444 519 John Hutchinson MV55 S 51:52 51:52
464 539 Richard Hall MV55 S 52:55 52:55
468 484 Adam Bent MV60 S 53:24 53:24
472 505 David Spence MV65 S 53:50 53:50
473 1880 Peter Hart MV35 S 53:50 53:50
485 506 Dougie Nisbet MV50 S 55:08 55:08
498 486 Alex Collins MV35 S 56:44 56:44
520 508 Gareth Cardus MV35 S 60:18 60:18
524 548 Stephen Ellis MV60 S 62:06 62:06

537 finishers.

Women
position bib name cat pack race time actual time
1 331 Justina Heslop (Elswick Harriers) FV35 S 22:40 22:40
18 1172 Olivia Neal n/c S 28:15 28:15
32 433 Sarah Davies FV45 S 28:42 28:42
43 421 Mandy Dawson FV45 S 29:04 29:04
64 378 Elaine Bisson FV35 M 29:28 27:28
74 381 Fiona Shenton FV55 S 29:30 29:30
79 426 Penny Browell FV40 F 29:42 25:42
106 374 Debra Goddard FV40 S 30:09 30:09
112 429 Rachelle Mason FV35 S 30:17 30:17
138 419 Lucy Cowton Fsen S 30:40 30:40
139 418 Louise Warner FV35 M 30:40 28:40
153 436 Stephanie Piper Fsen S 30:57 30:57
164 438 Susan Davis FV55 M 31:17 29:17
186 427 Rachael Bullock Fsen F 31:51 27:51
198 390 Jan Young FV60 S 31:58 31:58
209 380 Fiona Jones FV35 M 32:11 30:11
248 361 Anita Clementson FV45 S 33:48 33:48
258 393 Jean Bradley FV55 S 34:19 34:19
276 368 Catherine Smith FV35 S 35:28 35:28
288 385 Helen Hall FV45 S 36:08 36:08
295 377 Diane Watson FV50 S 36:37 36:37
319 389 Jan Ellis FV50 S 39:56 39:56
323 395 Jennifer Cowen Fsen S 41:11 41:11
325 410 Kelly Collier Fsen S 41:37 41:37

331 finishers.

A New Beginning?

Harrier League, Aykley Heads, 21st November

Mudman

Striders' home x/c fixture at Aykley Heads saw an excellent turn out of purple clad runners - 68 in total, with no less than 16 making their debuts, and what a performance they put in! Cheered on by an army of high-viz clad Strider marshals the men's team finished in a magnificent first place in Division 2 while the women maintained their 5th place in their highly competitive Division 1. What a fantastic day!

First up for Striders was Sally Hughes in the junior women's race. Home for the weekend from Loughborough University, where she rubs shoulders with international athletes and coaches on a daily basis, fast packer Sally showed us all how it's done by floating over the mud and finishing in an excellent 24th place. Well done Sally and we'll see you again soon for the North Easterns!

Sally Tamsin Mandy Sarah Jules Penny

Things were pretty cold on the exposed former police sports ground by the time the senior woman's race got underway. Some of our women had been marshalling for a couple of hours before the race and they must have been nithered! They didn't show it however, and Tamsin, on her debut, was quick to head the Strider charge. By now the course was in a well worn state - to put it mildly! Tight muddy turns and mini quagmires, interspersed with long up-hill stretches and nasty little ups and downs, were what the sadistic course planners had provided! Tamsin maintained her 'lead', was first Strider home & ran straight into the medium pack! There was a battle royal behind her with Mandy, Sarah and Jules fighting it out for the other counting places closely followed in by Penny from the fast pack (fresh from being presented with the Alan Purvis Cross Country Quaich for 2014-15 by the man himself shortly before the race).

Rachelle Victoria Kath Laura Helen Karen

But the main drama was being played out by the other 28 Striderettes seven of whom were making their debut on the toughest course in the league. So well done to Rachelle Mason, Victoria Brown, Kath Dodd (returning after a nigh on 30 year gap!), Laura Beacham, Helen Hall, Aileen Scott (wonderful finish) & Karyn Pyle (so relaxed). You all deserve a medal for completing that race – it was genuinely tough providing conditions normally only encountered in regional or national championship races and you were lining up with international athletes. I hope you are proud of yourselves because you should be!

Aileen Aileen Aileen Aileen

Other performances of note included that by the 'evergreen' Jan Young - first v60 home, Louise Warner - a fine first run from the medium pack and Catherine Elliott showing she's made of stern stuff! A fifth place finish on the day for the team and fifth place for the season so far - a good platform to build on.

By the time the men's race was due to start at 2.15pm things were pretty cold and the course was at its muddiest. Striders men's team was also packed with debutants (9 no less!) and when one politely asked Mudman for 'any tips', years of x/c experience were called upon to offer up the gem of 'start near the front'! Anyway, it worked because the debutant asking for the tip was Michael Mason and he had an absolutely magnificent race finishing in 18th place overall, achieving immediate promotion to the medium pack and being first Strider home - what a start! Not far behind was another Michael (Littlewood) making his debut. Fairly new to running Michael too achieved medium pack qualification with his 39th place - an incredible performance that he should be very proud of. Well done to both of you! Third Strider was yet another debutant - Mark Warner. Mark didn't quite achieve medium pack qualification but it will just be a matter of time before he does. Could these three performances represent a new beginning for Striders men's x/c? Let's hope so.

Michael Michael (the other one)

Other counters included the more experienced heads of Jerry, Chairman Paul and Simon with Neil, Jack, Matt & Stephen (from the fast pack and fastest Strider on the day) not too far behind. Our other six debutants experienced various highs and lows in the mud - Paul Foster lost the soles of his 'well worn' fell shoes, David Browbank's shoes came off altogether and he completed the race barefoot! (how tough is that?!) while Peter Swinburne, Alex Witty, Peter Hart and David Beecham all got round with their shoes on!

There were some brave performances from our old hands throughout the field. Tom continues to return to the form of old while Alan Smith and Phil Todd showed considerable courage and determination to conquer the brutal unforgiving course. Well done to you all and what a team performance - first on the day in Division 2 and now third place for the season so far. The top two teams are promoted to Division 1 at the end of the season. Could it happen to us? It will take a lot of commitment and hard graft but come on Striders! Let's give it a go!

Alan Phil

Aykley Heads was very much a 'Striders Production' in association with Derwentside AC (Mark Davinson) and Durham Harriers (Geoff Watson). Scores of Striders acted as course or car park marshals and event organisers. We also had dozens of Strider friends and family supporting on the day. So thanks to you all - in your own way you all contributed to making it a day to remember!

Deer amongst the Aykley Heads spectators Deer amongst the Aykley Heads spectators Deer amongst the Aykley Heads spectators

Results

MEN
position bib name cat pack race time actual time
1 1888 Kevin Calvert (Morpeth Harriers & AC) MSen S 36:59 36:59
18 1346 Michael Mason MV40 S 41:47 41:47
39 531 Michael Littlewood MV40 S 43:24 43:24
81 1345 Mark Warner MV35 S 44:24 44:24
86 516 Jerry Lloyd MV45 S 44:30 44:30
91 535 Paul Evans MV35 S 44:36 44:36
105 546 Simon Gardner MV45 S 44:49 44:49
131 1347 Neil Sleeman MV35 S 45:35 45:35
137 513 Jack Lee Msen S 45:35 45:35
148 528 Matthew Archer Msen S 45:51 45:51
152 549 Stephen Jackson Msen F 45:51 40:51
242 552 Tom Reeves MV45 S 47:39 47:39
260 499 David Brown MV35 S 48:09 48:09
292 496 Danny Lim MV35 S 48:55 48:55
305 537 Paul Swinburne MV40 S 49:14 49:14
307 520 Jon Ayres MV40 S 49:14 49:14
335 530 Michael Hughes MV45 S 50:26 50:26
369 533 Mike Bennett MV60 S 51:33 51:33
375 1882 Steve Lindsay MV55 S 51:42 51:42
381 510 Geoff Davis MV55 S 51:59 51:59
382 487 Alex Witty MV35 S 51:59 51:59
389 545 Shaun Roberts MV55 S 52:13 52:13
476 522 Malcolm Sygrove MV45 S 55:52 55:52
494 541 Richard Stollery MV35 S 56:38 56:38
495 551 Tim Matthews MV50 S 56:45 56:45
502 484 Adam Bent MV60 S 57:05 57:05
524 1880 Peter Hart MV35 S 58:36 58:36
555 485 Alan Smith MV65 S 62:48 62:48
570 1826 David Browbank MV35 S 65:04 65:04
579 521 Lindsay Rodgers MV45 S 67:46 67:46
582 1344 David Beacham MV50 S 68:31 68:31
588 1828 Phil Todd MV45 S 75:54 75:54

592 finishers.

Top of Division 2 with 109 points.

WOMEN
position bib name cat pack race time actual time
1 540 Hazelle Webster-Costella (Jarrow & Hebburn AC) FSen S 28:45 28:45
29 439 Tamsin Imber FV35 S 32:52 32:52
44 421 Mandy Dawson FV45 S 33:33 33:33
51 433 Sarah Davies FV45 S 33:45 33:45
55 403 Juliet Percival FV40 S 33:49 33:49
64 426 Penny Browell FV40 F 34:01 30:01
111 381 Fiona Shenton FV55 S 35:07 35:07
123 374 Debra Goddard FV40 S 35:21 35:21
145 429 Rachelle Mason FV35 S 35:54 35:54
147 418 Louise Warner FV35 M 35:54 33:54
151 367 Catherine Elliott FV35 S 35:59 35:59
163 438 Susan Davis FV55 M 36:14 34:14
177 436 Stephanie Piper Fsen S 36:33 36:33
202 427 Rachael Bullock Fsen F 37:20 33:20
218 440 Victoria Brown Fsen S 37:45 37:45
219 399 Joan Hanson FV45 S 37:45 37:45
226 390 Jan Young FV60 S 38:09 38:09
239 435 Stef Barlow FV40 S 38:49 38:49
240 1152 Kath Dodd FV45 S 38:49 38:49
245 388 Helen Williams FV40 S 39:00 39:00
249 386 Helen Thomas FV40 S 39:08 39:08
260 393 Jean Bradley FV55 S 39:28 39:28
282 816 Anna Seeley Fsen S 40:29 40:29
283 406 Kate MacPherson FV40 S 40:35 40:35
285 361 Anita Clementson FV45 S 40:35 40:35
298 822 Karen Metters FV40 S 41:12 41:12
299 827 Victoria Jackson FV35 S 41:12 41:12
337 368 Catherine Smith FV35 S 43:12 43:12
346 824 Laura Beacham Fsen S 43:52 43:52
352 385 Helen Hall FV45 S 44:28 44:28
353 357 Aileen Scott FV45 S 44:29 44:29
359 375 Denise Benvin FV45 S 44:58 44:58
370 430 Rebecca Devine Fsen S 45:56 45:56
377 823 Karyn Pyle FV55 S 47:16 47:16

398 finishers.

5th in Division 1 with 99 points.

Under 17 girls and U20 women
position bib name cat pack race time actual time
1 653 Holly Matheson (Heaton Harriers) FU17 S 24:25 24:25
24 246 Sally Hughes FU20 F 28:35 26:05

43 finishers.

Grand Prix Race. Endurance Champion Race.

Brampton to Carlisle, 15th November

10M

Results

position name cat catpos chip time
1 Lewis Timmins
Morpeth Harriers & Ac
52:31
44 Joanna Zakrzewski
Dumfries Running Club
L35 1 1:01:19
27 Stephen Jackson 58:56
101 Matthew Archer 1:06:22
159 Elaine Bisson L35 5 1:10:39
223 Louise Warner L35 11 1:15:06
231 Fiona Shenton L55 1 1:15:40
268 Fiona Jones L35 16 1:17:19
350 David Spence V65 5 1:22:24
362 Karen Jones L45 10 1:23:08
381 Lucy Cowton 1:24:43
382 Anna Seeley L 90 1:24:43
464 Eric Green V50 41 1:33:22
499 Stephen Ellis V60 19 1:37:16
505 Andy James V65 11 1:38:17
511 Christine Farnsworth L60 4 1:39:20
513 Jonathan Hamill V40 64 1:39:57
515 Gillian Green L45 30 1:40:37
516 Debra Thompson L50 15 1:40:48
517 Robin Linton 1:41:11
518 Lesley Hamill L40 30 1:41:12
521 Katie-Louise Finney L 173 1:41:25
522 Jill Young L 174 1:42:22
523 Deborah McFarland L 175 1:42:22
527 Karen Hooper L35 32 1:43:02
529 James Nicholson V65 12 1:43:28
532 Mike Elliott V65 13 1:46:00
545 Caitlin Mooney L 189 1:49:52
546 Kathleen Bellamy L35 34 1:51:17
547 Lindsay Craig L45 32 1:51:17
550 Margaret Thompson L65 1 1:54:16
552 Kelly Collier L 195 1:57:39
553 Laura Chapman L 196 1:57:39
554 Alison Simms L40 35 1:57:40
555 Joanne Parkinson L40 36 1:57:40
556 Neil Jennings V50 47 1:57:53
559 Sophie Dennis L 200 2:04:43

560 finishers.

Tour of Pendle Fell Race, Barley, Lancs, 14th November

Shortened course - 14m, 2700'

Paul Evans

I'd been warned about this one - admittedly by a man so Yorkshire that he got a little bit nauseous at the thought of this year's charity relay straying briefly into Lancashire (it didn't, but was close at times), considers racing in anything other than a vest and very short shorts unseemly and uses Tetley's Tea as mouthwash. He just didn't like the location. More importantly, I'd been warned about it by Scott Watson, who rated it as packing a lot of punch for its relatively short distance in the pantheon of 'long' fell races and warned that very little time would be spent running on a flat surface.

On the approach, if discounting the squalls of rain intermittently lashing down from the overcast sky, and the fact that the top of Pendle Hill was hidden in the clag, things looked fairly benign, with the race leaving the sanctuary of Barley village hall at 1030 along the metalled reservoir road to the base of the first climb. Over 400 of us had set off on what we were told was a course shortened (to spare the marshalls on the tops too much exposure) by 3 miles, missing out two short but steep climbs and one descent, reducing the 17m course to 14m. However, the running was easy enough to work out that if the first mile was on an fairly level road, and so was the last, this meant that all 2700' would be packed into a mere 12 miles, meaning over 200' of climb every mile. Completing that thought occurred at about the same time that things got serious and we turned off the road onto the slopes of Pendle Hill itself for a long leg past the trig point and over to the northern edge. It was wet, unrelenting and at that awkward gradient that is runnable, just, unless you know there's a lot more to come, so most walked or did as I did and ran a bit then walked a bit, repeatedly, until the slope lessened and we could attack the trig and descend towards CP1. There followed an easy leg to CP2, if the fact that the top of Pendle is really good at retaining water and so was abundant in bog and lacking in grip is discounted - and the fact that a sharp drop to a stream then climb up the other side was thrown in unexpectedly (to those who had not looked at the map fully), with a steady downhill through the mist, followed by a sharp drop to Churn Clough reservoir and a relative rest as we ran along the access track by the water to CP3. By this time the race had settled down, with the leaders off ahead and a long column behind, with my usual pattern of dropping a few places on the descents and gaining more on the tops and climbs established.

The leg to CP4 was short but nasty, a steep climb up a sodden hillside covered in bracken and leaf mould making for inefficient motion, then a brief period on the top followed by all of the altitude lost on the descent to Ogden Clough, a descent apparently known as 'Geronimo.' The grass burns on my thighs testify to the fact I abandoned all pride and completed it on by bottom, at speed. From here (CP4) we turned left and followed the stream for a few hundred yards before climbing just as sharply to CP5, only to turn 90' and drop back to Ashendean Clough, the climb out of which was the scene of Tom's darker moments on the recent FRA relays and, on revisiting it, I confirm he wasn't imaginign how long it feels the drag up the greasy, grassy slope felt.

That, however, was largely that - we climbed, we followed a wall through some summer grazing fields, now abandoned and saturated with calf-deep water and then we dropped slowly, then rapidly, to Ogden Clough again, had a relatively easy half mile downhill to the road and then race the last mile for a final couple of places. I finished in 2:16, 30 minutes behind the winner Rob Hope of Pudsey and Bramley, in 82/409 finishers. Emma Bain, John Duff and John Tollitt of NFR were not far behind and during post-race chat Emma confirmed that she's going to rejoin Striders to run XC, so the day was actually rather productive.

Summary - £9 got you 14 miles of quality, largely-runnable fell-running in a course where the imagination has been used well to ensure that you're:

a) never bored

b) never entirely oriented

It also got you a t-shirt, which is always a bonus, and the satisfaction of completing a race rightly regarded as a bit of a winter classic. Is it ever going to be a race we take a coach to or tell new runners is a must-do? No. It's unashamedly niche, but for the fell-runner not quite ready for the Lake District monsters, I'd strongly encourage giving this one a go. For me - I've not yet done the full course, so back next year it is.

Northallerton parkrun, 7th November

Danny Lim

This parkrun has the same vibe as Durham parkrun in the early days. A small, friendly group on runners gathering to run a flat, mainly grassy course around a few football fields. And maybe this is why I have gravitated to this particular event although I now live equidistant to 4 parkruns.

Of course, I had to choose the wettest day this season to run it. We were all soaked before we set off. It was more like running a Harrier League fixture! It was a bizarre, but I found myself in second place right from the start. But I'm no faster than usual, it was just a small field.

I ran this course last month and I promise, it is a very pleasant run in the park. So if you are ever in North Yorkshire, give this a go. Hope to see a few Striders some time.

Guy Fawkes 10, 1st November

Elaine Bisson

Just over an hours drive from Durham lies the quaint little village of Ripley, North Yorkshire. We three striders cladded in purple find ourselves here one foggy Sunday morning. From the allocated field for parking, we make our way to the village hall, today known as Race HQ. It's buzzing with excited club runners topping up on caffeine, stopping off at toilets and pinning numbers to vests.

As we near 10:30, we start to assemble outside Ripley Castle, pushing near to the start line...this race is not chip timed, every second counts! After a quick race briefing, the nominated Guy Fawkes fires the gun and we are off. There is a brief and frenzied downhill dash until the road turns and climbs up and up. I know this is a challenging course, I reckon it's similar to the Tynedale Jelly Tea Race. My race plan, run as hard up the hills as I can, run as fast down the downhills as I can...oh and remember to enjoy the surroundings while coming down. As soon as we start the fog clears, the sky is blue, there's not a cloud to spoil the view...only the hills.

I set off with tired legs, feeling a bit heady from dehydration, the first major climb, the 'Birstwith Brute' takes its toll, but as I reach the crest my legs start to loosen and I actually start to enjoy myself. 5 miles in and the worst is over and the views are beautiful. I remember how I quite enjoy the challenge of hitting a hill as hard as I can, to feel my legs burn and then to enjoy the relief on the glorious downhills.

There are two other big climbs, 'Swincliff Swine' and 'For Fawkes Sake'. A few smaller ones are mixed in for good measure, not big enough to warrant nicknames. I'd caught glimpses of purple along the way but on the final hill I could actually read the words 'Penny' emblazoned on the vest, this really spurred me on in those final miles. I started to overtake quite a few runners. The last mile, mostly downhill, was a crazed race to the finish, picking off as many women as I could until I hit the final climb and up through the gateway to the finish line. I actually managed in this race, a good negative split. I will ignore the fact my mile splits are hilarious and revel in my achievement.

And so me and my fellow purplies, now a bit red and sweaty, meet up to collect water and round the corner to the wondrous sight of our goody bags. Bags, we were told, would be heavily laden with chocolate bars. 15, if we were lucky. We visually weigh them up, trying to guess the best filled. We are like kids with Christmas stockings. Eagerly we open them up, we've earned those 15 chocolate bars. Yet low and behold only 4, 4 measly bars are in our bags. Nevertheless, we have our orange T-shirts to prove we conquered those hills.

Will we be back? £12, easy transfers, 10m, 1000ft climb. Good parking, lots of toilets, pretty surroundings, lovely tea shops, chocolate(only 4 bars and for some only 3), and yet it was a good one, not for the PB chaser, but to feel alive, yes, you bet.