Race Reports, October 2015

Castles Half Marathon, Bamburgh Castle, 25th October

Penny Browell

Bringing home the Bling. Another Sunday, another half marathon starting in a castle. Seems to be becoming a habit for me. This one was on the East coast and very beautiful the setting was too starting in Bamburgh Castle and with a very relaxed atmosphere. It is one of the Run Nation series - I’ve only done one of their races before and both this and the previous one were beautiful routes and very friendly but just a touch chaotic.

There was a good splash of purple for the half marathon and a lone purple vest for the marathon which was scheduled to start half an hour before the half. Due to various mishaps with the chip mats the marathon actually started about half an hour late and the half sometime after that. Elaine and I were shivering as we waited but finally we were off. Unlike my last half I had no particular goal for this race and just wanted to enjoy it which is exactly what I did. All on road it’s not a difficult race although there were a few climbs and descents to keep it interesting. I spent a good part of the race running alongside two men and chatted to them for a while – it was all very relaxed.

After winding through the villages the route turned back towards Bamburgh and we were greeted by a fabulous view of the sea and the castle. The final mile or so was an easy descent into the village, running past the pubs and teahouses where there were plenty of people cheering us in. The race finished in a field below the castle and in contrast to my previous half I was able to enjoy crossing the line without the stress of needing to get a specific time. Ironically, despite my different attitude my times were within 10 seconds of each other.

Elaine was just behind me and we were both proud to bring home prizes for the club (second and third lady). We also had time for a visit to a lovely tea-house with great carrot cake. All in all, a lovely morning out and one well worth remembering for the future.

I see half a castle - that must be where the race gets its name.

NE Night Championships, Durham City, 24th October

5.0km / 165m (6.7km actual)

Dougie Nisbet

Durham Cathedral.I always think it's harder on the fast guys. If you've never done an orienteering competition before it's hard to describe that mind-numbing, crippling-frustration that descends when you're cruising along, in control, then suddenly things aren't where they're meant to be. The clock is ticking, and the control must be nearby. Mustn't it?

For us slower runners it's bad enough - the vocabulary-expanding exasperation knowing that time is bleeding away while we try and work out why the world has everything in the wrong place. That time draining away should be time spent running. And if you're a fast runner, then the damage being done, the distance being lost, is correspondingly greater than that for a slow runner.

Tom, in happier times, with Mr Chips. So I didn't say much when Tom checked in at the Finish, looking stony faced and, probably not in the mood to be met with a merry quip. I've lost count of the times I've finished an orienteering competition with a severe sense of humour failure, and recognised that this wasn't the time for a jolly jape. Mind you, Tom had showed up on the Start line armed with a head-torch but no glasses. That was never going to end well.

Joan, on the other hand, had a great run, having responded to my pre-race goading and tried a harder course than she'd originally intended, and finishing third in her class.

Most of us were going for the long course, down as being 5km with 165m climb. Striders made up a noticeable chunk of the entrants and I found myself hovering around the Start with Tom, Paul and Geoff nearby. Tom went off first, picked up his map, then paused, publicly, to look perplexed and bewildered. Tom studying his map as best he can without glasses. First Mistake. I always advocate grabbing the map, sprinting around the nearest corner, then pausing to ponder the map in private. It's not the best approach, admittedly, as you may have sprinted 180 degrees in the wrong direction, unless of course, you'd watched starters before you to see which direction they headed.

After a suitable gap, Geoff and Paul also disappeared. And then it was my turn. I grabbed my map, looked at the map for the big pointy building with the jaggy bits on top so I could get my bearings, then identified the location of the first control. Right next to the toilets. That's always handy.

Durham Cathedral is the dramatic backdrop for the Northern Navigators Night Championships I always find Urban orienteering a bit tricky as the navigation tends to be reasonably straightforward, but there are often a lot of controls, and a lot of rapid thinking to be done. You can't really switch off - you need to be concentrating all the time. On the way to Control 1 I was already looking ahead to Control 2 and working out how to get there. And so on.

My control 8 was a couple of hundred metres south of Prebends Bridge and it's where I bumped into Kerry and Sue. They were pretty chirpy given that they seemed to have no idea where they were. I looked at their map to point out their location, but discovered they had gone so far off-piste that they were no longer on their map, so I showed them on mine. They were having none of it. They were so adamant that we were not where I insisted we were, that I even began to doubt myself, despite having just checked in at Control 8.

Control 8 on course one - south of Prebends Bridge.

Sue and Kerry had interpreted the rules in an impressively creative manner. Rather than visit the controls in order, as you're meant to, they had visited them in an order and manner of their choosing. When I pointed out that you had to visit the control in order, they looked at me as if I was mad, insisted that I was joking, insisting so insistently that before long I was unsure myself of whether I was joking. I suggested they get themselves back to Prebends Bridge and review the situation from there. I led them part of the way, being shouted back as I hurtled down the hill, feeling how a pilot boat must feel as it gently leads an uncertain ship in unfamiliar waters out of harbour. Once I was happy they were heading back to Prebends Bridge I dashed off to get back to the business of finding controls on my course.

Back into town and I would see Paul and Geoff occasionally. Paul kept appearing at high speed from increasingly surreal directions and my self-doubt kicked in again. I was pretty sure I was doing ok, and it was the rest of the world that was on the blink, but perhaps they knew something I didn't. I kept finding myself snipping at Paul's heels all the way to the Finish, and knowing that he started a few minutes ahead of me, knew that the result would be close.

I had indeed done OK, and now found myself in the rare, no, exceptional, no ..., unprecedented situation of finding myself ahead of Tom, Geoff and Paul in the results table of a race. Tom had abandoned, Paul was disqualified, and Geoff was 18 minutes behind me (not that I was paying much attention you understand). I needed that warm glow however as everyone bogged off to the pub, and since it was my orienteering club running the event, I hung back in the cold waiting for all the competitors to arrive back on Palace Green so I could go out again and bring in the controls.

Shaun Lee Johnstone Memorial Multi-Terrain Race, Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire, 18th October


Danny Lim

This was one of those low-key, very friendly but efficiently run races. The start was a farmyard near Boroughbridge. From there, we ran through 10 miles of muddy farm tracks, interspered by bits of boggy grass and the ood patch of tarmac; in short, it was proper cross country terrain!

Every turn had a friendly, cheery marshal, and some of the locals turned out in force too. It only cost £8 to enter, but all finishers got a medal, a banana and 10 tea bags of Yorkshire Tea! What more could one ask for. From Durham, it would take just under an hour to get here.

But perhaps the one thing I will remember was my chat with the race director. The race is named afer his son who died of a brain tumour aged 16. Although 17 years ago, his sadness still showed.

British Fell Relay Championships, Pendle Hill, Lancashire, 17th October

Nigel Heppell

Pendle Witch Country. A big event well organised and smoothly run by this years' hosts Clayton-le-Moors Harriers. Weather mild and cloudy with a bit of a breeze and good visibility at all elevations, ground conditions probably drier than usual.


LEG 1: Solo leg
7K approx with 450m of ascent over mixed terrain: farm tracks, pasture and open moor. Winning time: 30 minutes approx.

Mike Hughes

LEG 2: Pairs leg
15K approx with 630m of ascent over pasture and open moor. Winning time: 75 minutes approx.

Tom Reeves & Paul Evans


LEG 3: Pairs navigation leg
Winning time: 70 minutes approx

Scott Watson & Nigel Heppell

A windswept Paul and Tom charged up the slope into the changeover area and set us away off up the hill. A few paces later I realised Scott was in trouble; something had popped in his calf muscle. Rapid assessment time - abort or press on?

The sensible thing to do was to call it a day; so we carried on. A horrible sensation of being overtaken by all these other teams as we walked and limped across a couple of fields to the corner of some woods where the navigation maps were handed out. Scott found a way to maintain forward motion and gradually increased speed by putting a big demand on his good leg while using the bad one as a prop.

First checkpoint at the bottom of Boar Clough (evidently pronounced 'cloo' in this part of Lanc's) was easily found, followed by a stiff clamber up a track and then over the broken ground of Barley Moor; funny stuff this, lots of heather mixed with tussocks of grass masking surface rocks and a few leg-deep holes plus a scattering of peat hags and bogs some of which would support your weight, and some that wouldn't. I managed to face-plant in style at one point and my knee came out in sympathy with Scott's leg but we still managed to overtake a few teams, including NFR's ladies.

Leg 3 map

Checkpoint B in Ogden Clough was manned by a Clayton Harrier who gave us a shout and said he'd seen us on the Howgills a few weeks earlier - I think Jan had spoken to him en-route to The Calf - more open moorland came and went before a very long and steep descent to checkpoint C. Not surprisingly this was followed by a long and steep ascent back up the hillside but we did claw back a few more places. A trundle around the edge of Pendle Moor led to checkpoint D and off we went to find E, somewhere out of sight just over the top of Spence Moor. Somehow our navigation went badly wrong here and it took a while to realise our mistake. In the rush to get back on course we went through some really broken ground and poor Scott took a tumble that really put his bad leg out of action. As this was the furthest point from the finish the only thing to do was to walk back and that is pretty much what we did. Before we reached the end section the leg 4 runners started coming past! Not the best run ever but at least we got round and completed the navigation.

LEG 4: Solo leg
8K approx with 400m of ascent over pasture land, open moor and farm track. Winning time: 39:20 minutes approx. Mike Bennett - 1:00:20

Having competed in last years event I was looking forward to this relay. Arriving at 9:30 and being down for the 4th leg meant I had a lot of time for the anxiety to set in, (no matter how many races I compete in the butterflies and anxiety are always there on the start line). This was not helped either as the first teams were finishing before I had started. Eventually I set off and was at last able to concentrate on the race itself with the main objective to not get lost then to get round in one piece. Race info stated the course was marked and marshalled. I am pleased to report this was the case. The sun was out at this point and I was able to take in brief glimpses of the stunning scenery as I picked my way around the course. At this point in the race there were very few runners still out so it became very much an individual race with just the occasional runner ahead to try and catch. With 2 long climbs and 1 steep descent then the final more gentle slope back to the finish it included most elements of a short but testing fell race. The few remaining spectators at the finish included Striders male captain and chairman, I could not be seen to be taking it too easy and tried to push right to the line. All in all great relay that lived up to expectations, hats off to Clayton Harriers for a well organised event.



Elvet Striders - 133/147

... from Tom

The camera showing Tom's best side.After the mass start of leg one leg two was a case of waiting for your leg one runner to arrive and get moving. Myself and Paul watched our watches and listened to Denise Parks announcing runners as they dibbed in at the top of the field before the descent to the change over.

Mike duly arrived looking strong and we were soon on our way. There was a short climb out of the start to warm up then we were soon in pursuit of our first team in front of us. Checkpoint 2 was at the top of a woods on a hillside and I was very quickly gasping (and this was to be a theme) holding Paul back. This was my first competitive fell race in 18 months and boy did I know! The distance for leg 2 was around 15 K and the hardest section was between checkpoint 3 and 7 with several steep climbs and immediate descents. I was doing pretty well on the descents lacking in brain cells and utilising gravity I could switch off and go. Unfortunately on the ups I was lacking in something else ... lung capacity.

Final Approach

I was very pleased to reach checkpoint 7 as the going from this point was very runnable, even the uphill section.

On the final 2k descent I unfortunately disgraced myself by waving to one of the official photographers and was roundly told off by him. I do believe Paul muttered some impolite comments about me but we wont repeat them here!

We made it back to the changeover in a shade over 1hr 35m and had gained probably 12 places or so. This wasn't bad I reckon.

shifty looking shower!

Perkins Great Easter Run, Peterborough, 11th October

Half Marathon

Stephen Jackson

Stephen and GerardThis is a race that I would never have entered, were it not for my brother Gerard marrying a lass from Market Deeping, a market town in Lincolnshire - just a few miles away from Peterborough. He was combining the run with a family trip and asked me if I fancied joining him.

I was initially unsure as it was just a few weeks after the Great North Run but I thought it was a good chance to have a catch up so I signed up during the latter part of the summer. I'd initially thought about running with my brother, with the general idea of pacing him to his sub 90 minute goal. However, as the race drew nearer it became apparent that my brother had probably undertrained and I felt in good shape to go for another PB attempt.

The race is very well organised and highly competitive; with three or four elite, professional athletes in the field along with a strong contingent of talented club runners. To put it into context, running 1:20 would have put you in 86th place. My final placing was not that far ahead of where I finished in the Great North Run which had approximately 30 times more entrants.

It's clear to see why the 'sharp end' is stacked - this is a race you enter to run a half marathon PB. Much like the Brass Monkey in York the course is very flat and with good conditions (which we had on the day) and the right training it's a great race for shaving off a few seconds for the Power of 10.

I've been really lucky in 2015, with no injury or illness since January I've really had a sustained spell of quality training under the guidance of Allan Seheult. I always train six days a week, sometimes seven, and occasionally twice a day. On this sunny morning in Peterborough I felt the benefit of every session as I actually felt stronger as the race progressed. This, I also put down to a little bit of race experience - I now make a real conscious effort to make sure my first mile is at goal pace and no faster - I'm not quite as naïve as I was this time last year.

So it was to be a half marathon PB of 1:16:16 and, I think, a 10km PB somewhere in the second half of the race. That was enough to put a smile on my face for the journey back up the A1.

Great Run Local, Gibside, 11th October


Jon Ayres

As the preparation for Marathons next year begins so the thinking of how to incorporate long runs into family time starts. The chance to take the Jr members of the clan for a day out at Gibside hall and for a few miles to be clocked up running there, followed by a harder end to the run appealed.

Having never done a "great local" run before I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but am happy to confirm that they feel very much like the parkrun of 5 years ago, friendly and well organised with the group totalling around 60 or so.

There are two runs - 2 and 5k - with the longer set off a few seconds earlier. The course starts flat but there are a couple of "lung busters" with the terrain being a mix of hard and softish trail. Marshalls are spread around though both I and Elaine Bisson managed to take wrong turns at separate points, fortunately these were soon corrected. The last mile or so is a long drop with a sharp short climb and a flat finish (very fast).

A great course in a terrific setting, definitely worth a visit.

For the record Elaine finished first Woman about ten seconds ahead of me, due to some really strong hill running, however as her wristband hadn’t arrived (a bit like the parkrun barcode, just a touch fancier) she wasn’t registered in the final results.

Sherman Cup & Davison Shield, Temple Park, 10th October

Steph Piper

The second cross country fixture of the season saw the day bright, warm and dry. Conditions were firm to soft with little mud, distinctly very un-XC like. Perhaps just as well the Mudpeople were seeking less stable conditions up Kirk Fell in Wasdale.

Striders, old and new.

Twenty Striderettes took to the start line, of which five were making their cross country debut. The scratch race nature of this fixture made for a scrappy start as 320 women jostled for position up the first incline. Elaine Bisson shot off in to the distance to become the first Strider home in 33rd place and first veteran counter. Fifty places back was Fiona Kinghorn-Jones, second Strider and veteran counter over the line, followed not far behind by Fiona Shenton who completed the trio to finish 10th in the Vet's competition - congratulations ladies!

Steph leading the pack.

Hot on Fiona S’s heels was Catherine Elliott in a storming run at her second XC race, with Camilla Lauren-Määttä next. Steph Piper had them both in her sights for much of the race but was unable to catch them, finishing as first senior counter. Jan Young, Jenny Search and first-timer Sue Gardham were the next to finish, strung out across the field ahead of Kate MacPherson and Helen Thomas who battled it out to the end, only two seconds adrift of each other.

First-timer Sue Gardham.

Fiona, with a little help from Norman

A tightly-packed bunch of Striders ladies followed in their wake. There were strong performances from debutants Vics Jackson and Karen Metters, who led in a pack of nine Striders ladies within the next 50 places. Vics pipped a rival DCH at the line in a sprint finish, Karen outperformed several competitors along the back straight.

They were followed closely by: Clare Metcalfe as second senior counter; Diane Watson's whose long days training in the hills made for a time 1:32 quicker than last year; first-timer Lucy Herkes' Monday grass training clearly paid dividends to make her the third and final senior counter (well done to you both - 19th in the Senior's competition!); Rebecca Devine's storming sprint finish knocked back ten other competitors to finish two places above Helen Hall who also performed admirably in her XC debut. Jan Ellis and Jenny Cooper rounded up the team, both running well.

The glasses are off, this looks serious. Before long, the men were away. The field was huge, well over 400 streamed out along the course where we cheered them on from the top of the big hill. Rob Everson led the team of 18 Striders men and looked strong for the first two laps but unfortunately had to pull out due to a niggling injury. So it was that Simon Gardner became the first Strider home by a wide margin (120th place and first veteran counter). Matthew Archer, Jack Lee (first and second senior counters respectively) and Scott Watson (second vet counter) followed in quick succession after that. Jack in his second XC looking like the terrain suits him well with Simon, Matt and Scott all producing the admirable performances we know and love.

Next to follow was Dave Halligan as the final veteran counter, placing the men's veteran's team 20th overall - excellent! Andrew Rayner as the third senior counter was not far behind, the senior gents finishing 25th in the table - a job very well done indeed. Steve Lindsay and Shaun Roberts put in strong performances as the Striders men began to come in thick and fast. Malcolm Sygrove, in a long-awaited XC debut, heralded the arrival of a close group which included Richard Hockin, determined to the end; Richard Hall Sr; Ari Hodgson who put in a great finish; David Case in a spectacular sprint but was overhauled by a rival from Crook; ultra-man Dave Robson who managed to pull five places clear of Dougie Nisbet in the final lap; Steve Ellis still looking strong and not-last Gareth Cardus, paced in by Richard Hall on a cool-down lap of the field.

Well done to all who ran and many thanks to those who provided much-needed shouts of encouragement and, of course, cake. See you all on the battlefield next month at Aykley Heads.


position bib name cat pack race time
1 833 Lewis Timmins (Morpeth Harriers) MSen F 30:18
120 546 Simon Gardner MV45 S 36:44
182 528 Matthew Archer Msen S 38:29
198 513 Jack Lee Msen S 38:52
222 544 Scott Watson MV50 S 39:27
267 497 Dave Halligan MV50 S 40:44
283 488 Andrew Rayner Msen S 41:17
314 550 Steve Lindsay MV55 S 42:25
335 545 Shaun Roberts MV55 S 43:15
375 522 Malcolm Sygrove MV45 S 44:46
392 540 Richard Hockin MV60 S 45:35
403 539 Richard Hall MV55 S 46:13
407 491 Ari Hodgson MU20 S 46:23
427 500 David Case Msen S 48:00
435 498 Dave Robson MV60 S 48:51
441 506 Dougie Nisbet MV50 S 49:39
453 548 Stephen Ellis MV60 S 52:20
463 508 Gareth Cardus MV35 S 59:58

464 finishers.

position bib name cat pack race time
1 1113 Emily Stewart (Newcastle University) FSen F 21:36
33 378 Elaine Bisson FV35 M 26:24
83 380 Fiona Jones FV35 M 28:35
102 381 Fiona Shenton FV55 S 29:13
108 367 Catherine Elliott FV35 S 29:32
126 366 Camilla Lauren-Maatta FV50 S 30:01
135 436 Stephanie Piper Fsen S 30:14
165 390 Jan Young FV60 S 31:19
182 396 Jenny Search FV35 S 32:03
201 437 Sue Gardham FV40 S 32:43
222 406 Kate MacPherson FV40 S 33:27
223 386 Helen Thomas FV40 S 33:29
250 827 Victoria Jackson FV35 S 34:57
256 822 Karen Metters FV40 S 35:10
264 372 Clare Metcalfe Fsen S 35:51
268 377 Diane Watson FV50 S 35:57
276 420 Lucy Herkes Fsen S 36:23
280 430 Rebecca Devine Fsen S 36:52
283 385 Helen Hall FV45 S 36:57
294 389 Jan Ellis FV50 S 38:09
296 394 Jennifer Cooper FV35 S 38:18

320 finishers.

Howgills Weekend, 3–4th October

Nigel Heppell

Nigel has taken a lovely set of photos from the weekend available via the link below, or click on any of the images to be taken to the gallery.

Reflecting the sky

Slowly up out of Stonely Gill Our own Angel on Green Bell summit (605m) Sometimes navigation is better shared

Running of Randygill

Great Scottish Run, Glasgow, 4th October

Jenny Search

My first official half marathon as a Strider, this was the race I had been training for ... my target race I think the professionals say! It was a cool (but dry) morning - perfect conditions for running. I was a student in Glasgow so love the place and still have many friends there. There is a big hill, not very far away ...

The weekend had started with kids' races on the Saturday which were fab. On Sunday morning I arrived in Glasgow city centre with my sister and best friend and managed to cheer a few friends on in the 10k before heading to the start line. It was well organised, the different waves went in different side streets to accumulate on the road leading to the start line. There weren't enough portaloos portable toilets but we managed to get to the start just a few minutes before the gun. You could see the long uphill stretch of St Vincent street ahead - about a km or so of hill to get you warmed up! After a busy start, the runners thinned out and I found it easy to run at my own pace. The crowds were great and there was a piper at every mile ("Just count down the pipers" I was advised at the start!).

Jenny on her way to a PBIt was an experience to cross the Clyde by running over the main motorway (M8) sliproad with traffic still whizzing by on the main carriageway – although most cars slowed down and beeped their support for the runners! Then onwards through the "South Side" through parks and along roads with plenty of crowds to cheer you on. Finally back over the river and along the riverside to finish on Glasgow Green.

I ran my last unofficial (ahem) 'training run' with a few other people from Newcastle to South Shields a few weeks ago in a time of 2h10. I was hoping to knock about 5 minutes off by not having to weave in and out the crowds so much. It was cooler and flatter and I felt great. As the race went on, I thought I might be able to break the 2 hour mark if I could keep my pace up. I ran this race once as a care-free student in 2002 (my only other half marathon) and got just under 2 hours – could I get a PB 13 years and 2 kids later? Well yes I could! Thanks to the excellent training I have had with Striders and Durham Mums on the Run, I was absolutely over the moon to finish in 1.53.16.

Great Cumbrian Run, 4th October

13.1 Miles

Penny Browell

Penny I don't usually set myself time targets in races - partly because I do a lot of hilly races where you can't predict your pace but also because I always feel I should just do my best and see where that gets me. This race was a bit different. For the past few weeks I'd become somewhat obsessed with getting a sub-90 half marathon time. I spoke to a couple of people about it, all of whom recommended I do Redcar, the well-known PB half marathon in the North East. However as that fell on the same weekend as cross country it wasn't an option for me. I spotted the Great Cumbrian was just a week later and although it's far from flat it sounded like a good race in terms of atmosphere and route. So I signed up.

As race day approached I realised the target I'd set was a touch foolish. Based on previous race results at other distances there was no reason to think I'd be anywhere near sub 90. And that was before I factored in the hills. However the believer in me kept spurring me on and I have to say I trained harder than ever for the two weeks leading up to the big day.

Race day arrived and the conditions were perfect. As Pete Matthews and I headed over from Durham it was foggy but when we got there it was cool, dry and with no wind. For anyone considering doing this race it really is fabulous. You start in the castle and then run out through the city and into the local countryside. I'd been told the worst hills were in the first 4 miles so was delighted to get through these all within my target pace of 6.52 minute miles. I started to think the big sub 90 was going to happen but at 6 miles another hill appeared, a wave of tiredness hit me and I looked down at my watch to see my pace had slipped considerably. Constantly doing maths in my head I worked out what I needed to do and pushed on getting back on target. At 10 miles the Pete same thing happened - a hill appeared and my garmin told me I was losing pace fast. I knew to stay under 90 minutes I was going to have to work hard and I also knew there was one more short sharp hill at 11 miles which many people had mentioned in reviews as being a killer. The last few miles are a bit of a blur now. The 11 mile hill resulted in me actually walking for about 10 seconds while I tried to re-group and tell myself I could get back on track. The last couple of miles are through Bitts Park and whilst I'm sure it's a lovely place to run I spent the entire time looking at my garmin, telling myself I had to do it and wishing the finishing stadium would appear.

Once I finally got onto the track I still didn't know whether I could do it. I'd already been running over 89 minutes and I wasn't sure how much of the track we had to run. I passed a couple of guys as I pushed on and at last saw the finish line and the clock which still started with a 1.29.. One final push and I was through as the man on the loudspeaker announced I was finishing in under 1 ½ hours. The feeling was incredible - total exhaustion and euphoria wrapped into one. Days like this are what running is all about. Pete also finished well with 1.51, a massive improvement on his GNR time. It was a shame not to have more purple vests with us as it is a really lovely race and an easy drive from Durham. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone - although I guess I would as I'll always remember it as one of my best race days ever!


1Robert Hodgson01:12:22
30Kirsty Hamilton01:25:10
81Penny Browell01:29:37
507Peter Matthews01:51:02

1270 finishers

Saltergate Circuit, Stape, North Yorkshire, 3rd October


Dave Robson

Mel decides to liven things up with a quick rendition of the Sound of Music. There is also a long route at this event (24m), but Melanie and I opted for the shorter 16m distance. The event is organised by the Scarborough and Ryedale Mountain Rescue team and it is for runners and walkers. All proceeds went towards funding the team.

The event started at the small village of Stape. There had been a route description on the web site, but it was vague in places. I spent a bit of time going over it and plotting it out to find when we arrived that the route had changed. Also as it turned out it seemed possible to just go from checkpoint to checkpoint whichever way you fancied.

An added complication was the mist which meant you couldn't see very far in some places and this added an interesting dimension to the navigation. I was lucky to have done parts of the route before on the Hardmoors Goathland marathon, but there some sections I had never covered before.

It started reasonably easily, a flagged section through a forest and a road section before we got onto the moors. Here we made our first error, we followed another three runners down towards the Wheeldale Lodge stepping stones. We had left the main path too early and had to fight our way up the banks of the stream to find the stepping stones. Then across to Simon Howe and heading ok, back to the racing. towards Newtondale, which is well known as the Pickering steam railway line follows the valley. Runners were heading off in all directions at this point, but I think we picked a reasonable line missing out the boggy bits, but there was a little of forcing our way through some heather.

We dropped down to Newtondale successfully and up to Saltergate where the routes split. Many of the runners went on to the 24m route and there were only three other runners ahead of us that we could see (and a quite a few behind, some had got a bit lost). Crossing Levisham Moor the three in front who had previously looked uncertain of the route went off to the east and we opted not to follow them. As it turned out they made a good decision as they finished before us. We made it to the next checkpoint at Levisham Elbow and went across the railway line again at Levisham station. Here we made our next error climbing too high up the hill. We ended up in a cows' barn and had an eight foot gate to scale to get back to the route. After that it was straightforward and we arrived safely back at the finish, but we were surprised to learn that the first runner of the 24m route had finished twenty minutes before us.

Inspiration for choice of route

I think we shall do this event again now we know what to expect and know the area a bit better. It is a beautiful part of the country to run through. There were lots of well stocked checkpoints and a jacket potato at the end. There was also a certificate and you could buy a badge if you wished.