Race Reports, September 2015

Grand Prix Race. Endurance Champion Race.

The Clampoons Adventure

Redcar Half Marathon, 27th September

Sophie Dennis

Today was Helen Hall's very first Half Marathon so we all went down to support her. She was excited but nervous as we drove down to Redcar with we me sitting beside her shovelling pasta down for my breakfast. We set off this morning, all in one car with fog all around us hoping for a "personal most boring", (we'd been told it was quite a boring race.) How wrong were we.

Striding out at Redcar

As we arrived at the start where the fog started lifting and the Sun came out, it was also nice to see some other Elvet Striders comrades. We set off at 10am with Me and Helen out in front with Lindsay, Julie, Sue and Kathleen not far behind. You ran though the docks then up the dual-carriageway. At the 3/ 5 mile marker I had a shout out on the radio both times I passed them.

Jon with Elaine just behind

As you went up the Dual-carriage way to the turning point you had the fast runners coming back down on the other side which was nice because the other Elvet Striders comrades gave you a shout out too. As you left the Dual-carriageway back to the docks for the half way point more people had started to line the streets in support. There was even a crowd of residents from a near by Nursing home with their carers waving their flags and cheering us on.

You then ran though the Start /Finish line then onto the sea front. As I ran along the sea front past the arcades I heard George Nicholson shouting my name cheering me on from the side lines Thank you George.

The heat was intense. I stopped at every water station sometimes even pouring it over my head to cool me down, which has now led to chafing that really hurts :(. I hit the wall, as they say, at 11 miles so started to run / walk but another runner close by spurred me on to the finish. Helen Hall crossed the line in at about 2 hours 13 which is awesome for her first Half Marathon. I crossed the Line at about 2 hours 20 which is a 12minute PB from two weeks ago at the Great North Run. Sue, Lindsay, Julie and Kathleen came across the line at about 2 hours 26 all holding hands as they finished.

After we had all finished, collected our medal and T-shirts, we walked back along the sea front to find food but we were stopped in our tracks and asked to talk live on 105 FM Radio about our races. Eventually we found Weatherspoons and sat down for lunch where I had a massive panic because I had lost my purse and had to wait till we got back to Durham before I found it safe in my car.

As I write this report I find out that my Chip has not worked so my PB will not be recorded!!!! Gurrrrrrr so annoyed :( I have sent them an email. Well done to Every Strider who Ran Today Awesome efforts all Round.

Sophie was there, chip or no chip!

Jon Ayres

Having had my face-deservedly-ground into the dirt at Langdale a couple of weeks ago, panic training set in. Hard efforts, quick miles and generally bucking up my ideas in order to let me have a crack at what I'd been told was a flat, fast course. A quick word with a few other folks in purple, caffeine ingested, toilets visited and it was time to get to the start. Despite being a fairly small field (800 or so) it took a couple of minutes to cross the timing mats, for some reason I have a thing about trying to start at the back of the field, fine here but not good at X-C.

The miles seemed to pass OK and once the first switchback had been rounded it was good to see lots of purple vests and exchange pleasantries, all those I saw looked to be enjoying the conditions which had turned to warm and sunny after a misty, cloudy start. I'd had a mental timetable of trying to run 6.52 mile pace and was pleasantly surprised to see at 5 miles I was slightly ahead of this and tried to concentrate on form and catching the next vest in front.

Seven miles saw a return to the start point-the course is an out and back in opposite directions and crowds which had been sparse (it's not the most scenic of courses) built up along the seafront.Fortunately there was little wind to hamper progress. This part I did find a bit dull it seemed a long way from seven to ten miles. Final switchback negotiated and it was time to head home,savour the scent of fried food and gasp encouragement at fellow club members coming the other way. A last frenzied look at my Garmin and the run home was all about "giving it some beans" (© Tom Reeves).

All in all a good day at the office. A course with heaps of PB potential (I think a few Striders got one)the only disappointment was the results not initially showing mine and a few other folks time (it's since been fixed, quickly, in my case, not sure about others) but otherwise well organised and worth a crack at.


position name cat gun time chip time
1 Tadele Mulugeta (Elswick Harriers) M 17-39 1:10:12 1:10:11
8 Justina Heslop (Elswick Harriers) F 35-39 1:16:20 1:16:19
80 Jon Ayres M 40-44 1:29:29 1:27:30
128 Elaine Bisson F 35-39 1:34:03 1:33:45
163 Steve Trout M 45-49 1:36:16 1:36:09
257 Malcolm Sygrove M 45-49 1:42:32 1:41:50
289 Fiona Jones F 35-39 1:44:21 1:44:03
406 Karen Jones F 45-49 1:50:43 1:49:47
440 Helen Williams F 40-44 1:52:45 1:52:03
456 Andrew Davies M 17-39 1:53:58 1:53:05
487 Jess Willow F 17-34 1:55:42 1:54:45
541 Ian Spencer M 50-54 1:57:53 1:56:58
614 Mark Dunseith M 17-39 2:03:35 2:02:36
617 Robin Linton M 17-39 2:04:07 2:03:14
633 Jayne Freeman F 40-44 2:05:41 2:04:44
704 Diane Harold F 40-44 2:11:42 2:10:12
726 Helen Hall F 45-49 2:13:50 2:12:00
739 Lucy Cowton F 17-34 2:15:19 2:14:23
740 Debbie McFarland F 17-34 2:15:19 2:14:22
*741-856 Sophie Dennis F 17-34 2:20:pb 2:20:pb
857 Sue Jennings F 50-54 2:28:29 2:26:36
858 Kathleen Bellamy F 35-39 2:28:29 2:26:36
859 Lindsay Craig F 45-49 2:28:29 2:26:36

885 finishers.

* chip failed to register Grand Prix Race. Mud King/Mud Queen Race.

The Debutants Ball!

Harrier League, Tanfield, 26th September


Penny, literally powering through.The grand opening of this season's Harrier League saw Striders field no less than 17 fresh faced debutants out of the 52 Striders who competed - that must be a record! The weather gods smiled on our newbies providing a mild, calm & dry day for them to get to grips with cross country for the first time. The fields around Tanfield were choka with club tents & flags making it look like a medieval battle was about to take place (if you ignored all the cars!) and when the cavalry charge of the 300+ senior women's field set off at 1.15pm that's exactly what it resembled!

Rebecca dragging her dodgy knee through the water feature. Louise and Katy were first to show in the 'fight' hotly pursued by Sarah, Steph, Debs and a host of others. With Penny powering through from the fast pack to finish as fourth counter (behind Louise, Katy (both promoted to the medium pack!) & Sarah) the women's team finished 6th on the day to get the club off to a solid start.

But that was only part of the story; there were some fantastically brave and gutsy performances from all the ten debutants and the other Striderettes behind them. Joan Reeves impressed on her long (very long) awaited debut together with Caitlin Mooney (more confident after running the tough Aykley Heads course on Wednesday), Joanne Parkinson (watched by a proud daughter), Rebecca Devine (nursing a dodgy ankle), Marita Grimwood (tough and determined behind her demure exterior), Jenny Search (striding impressively), Jan Ellis (joining the rest of her family in the mud), Helen Thomas (wearing the purple with pride), Clare Metcalfe (battling with so many experienced runners) & Catherine Elliott (with an impressive finishing position for 'first time out').

Please be aware all debutants that Mudwoman and I are very proud of you and grateful to you for joining us in what can be a tough and, at times, unforgiving arena and for wearing your Strider vests (the colours of the Suffragette movement) with pride! Well done to you all.

Alan and Stephen Well, after that emotional rollercoaster it was the men's turn to run on what was a fairly dry course, apart from the wide water 'jump', a few 'undulations' rather than mega steep hills (they will come later in the season!) and a thick grassy surface. Dr Paul was first to show, in spite of his flu symptoms, only to be overhauled by a 'canny' Simon and an outstanding Stephen (finishing in 25th place, first Strider home and qualifying for the fast pack - as the kids say: "awesome"!). Other counters included Matt Archer (achieving what we know he can do), Jack Lee (perhaps the most impressive Strider debut of the day & after being given a gruelling workout by young Erin (Jo Richardson's daughter) at Aykley Heads on Wednesday) & the 'ever green' James Garland. A seventh place finish for the team on the day which is solid enough but I know we can improve as the season progresses.

Ari climbing away from the Water Jump. These 'brave boys' were supported by numerous other outstanding performances including Rob (making his fast pack debut and looking as good as ever), Chairman Tom & Shaun the Sheep (both making welcome returns after long layoffs due to 'knee problems') & Alan Smith (returning after being told what we all dread hearing: "you'll never run again") - well done the lot o' ya! And then there were the other six debutants: Adam Bent (going from water polo to a water jump and loving every bit of it), Andrew Rayner (looking like there's plenty more performances to come); Alex Collins (toughing it out all the way round); David Case (enjoying that water jump); Tim Matthews (another triathlete seeing mud as the way to go) and Richard Stollery (finishing ahead of many experienced rivals). Great performances all round and a wonderful reflection on our expanding club that so many newbies want to give x/c a try and see for themselves what all the fuss is about - you are very welcome!

until next time. A final word for all the Striders unable to run but happy to come along, watch the races, cheer their club mates, take photos and eat cake! Thanks for coming and I hope you all enjoyed your day. A further final, final word - Mudman and Mudwoman are unable to attend the next fixture (The Sherman Cup, South Shields, 10th October) but we'll leave the tent, flag, race numbers etc in save hands - we're sure you'll be fine although we'll be thinking (and worrying) about you.


position bib name cat pack race time actual time
1 1555 Michael Edwards (Sunderland Harriers) Msen S 38:15 38:15
25 549 Stephen Jackson Msen M 40:31 38:01
68 546 Simon Gardner MV45 S 42:25 42:25
99 535 Paul Evans MV35 S 43:18 43:18
147 528 Matthew Archer Msen S 44:19 44:19
159 513 Jack Lee Msen S 44:25 44:25
188 514 James Garland MV40 S 45:00 45:00
273 542 Rob Everson Msen F 46:36 41:36
277 552 Tom Reeves MV45 S 46:42 46:42
301 497 Dave Halligan MV50 S 47:18 47:18
314 483 Aaron Gourley MV35 S 47:38 47:38
320 488 Andrew Rayner Msen S 47:53 47:53
362 530 Michael Hughes MV45 S 48:55 48:55
404 541 Richard Stollery MV35 S 50:00 50:00
412 545 Shaun Roberts MV55 S 50:27 50:27
471 495 Craig Walker MV55 S 52:33 52:33
510 551 Tim Matthews MV50 S 54:26 54:26
518 484 Adam Bent MV60 S 55:10 55:10
527 486 Alex Collins MV35 S 55:55 55:55
542 491 Ari Hodgson MU20 S 57:34 57:34
547 506 Dougie Nisbet MV50 S 58:20 58:20
548 521 Lindsay Rodgers MV45 S 58:25 58:25
555 500 David Case Msen S 58:44 58:44
560 485 Alan Smith MV65 S 59:16 59:16
575 548 Stephen Ellis MV60 S 61:12 61:12
580 508 Gareth Cardus MV35 S 63:46 63:46

590 finishers.

position bib name cat pack race time actual time
1 1094 Joasia Zakrzewski (Dumfries RC) guest S 26:31 26:31
30 418 Louise Warner FV35 S 32:12 32:12
31 408 Katy Walton Fsen S 32:16 32:16
42 433 Sarah Davies FV45 S 32:51 32:51
63 426 Penny Browell FV40 F 33:23 29:23
101 436 Stephanie Piper Fsen S 34:10 34:10
113 374 Debra Goddard FV40 S 34:28 34:28
129 367 Catherine Elliott FV35 S 35:04 35:04
140 438 Susan Davis FV55 M 35:22 33:22
171 390 Jan Young FV60 S 36:07 36:07
175 422 Marita Grimwood FV40 S 36:12 36:12
190 399 Joan Hanson FV45 S 36:46 36:46
192 435 Stef Barlow FV40 S 36:49 36:49
193 393 Jean Bradley FV55 S 36:51 36:51
206 396 Jenny Search FV35 S 37:12 37:12
261 388 Helen Williams FV40 S 38:48 38:48
273 406 Kate MacPherson FV40 S 39:09 39:09
297 386 Helen Thomas FV40 S 40:44 40:44
301 375 Denise Benvin FV45 S 40:54 40:54
308 818 Claire-Louise Wells FV35 S 41:24 41:24
317 369 Catherine Walker FV55 S 41:40 41:40
320 377 Diane Watson FV50 S 41:52 41:52
330 372 Clare Metcalfe Fsen S 42:35 42:35
342 402 Joanne Richardson FV40 S 43:55 43:55
346 373 Debbie Mcfarland Fsen S 44:18 44:18
350 389 Jan Ellis FV50 S 45:01 45:01
358 400 Joanne Parkinson FV40 S 45:42 45:42
362 430 Rebecca Devine Fsen S 46:00 46:00
364 365 Caitlin Mooney Fsen S 46:14 46:14
365 410 Kelly Collier Fsen S 46:18 46:18

388 finishers.

Grand Prix Race. King/Queen of the Mountain Race.

Viking Chase Four Peaks, North York Moors, 20th September

8m / 1800'

Penny Browell

Despite it being a GP race only a handful of Striders made it over to Carlton in Cleveland for this friendly and scenic race. A shame as at £8 which goes towards the local mountain rescue team it's a bargain and the weather was perfect for it, clear and calm with a bit of sunshine but not too hot.

A reminder of those Four Peaks

I'd been warned it was a race of two halves and it certainly was. For me the first half was a chance to display my strengths and extreme weaknesses as an aspiring fell runner. With four tough climbs and descents I felt strong and confident on the uphills. I was within spitting distance of Paul at the top of the first one and near the front of the pack. However descent 1 and I was overtaken by at least 15 people, including two ladies who were to become my nemeses for the duration of the race. Up the next hill and I overtook most of those who had flown past me on the way down (including the two ladies) but down again and past me they flew again. This happened on each of the four climbs and descents. So I finished the fourth descent rather further back than seemed fair after all of my successful uphill battles (and well behind the two ladies I'd already overtaken 3 times each!).

However the race was not over and as we moved into the second half it was time to go into more of a cross country mindset as we moved from climbing up and tottering down (in my case) to more of an undulating muddy course. This half was not without its climbs but the descents were more within my capability so I dug in and set about finding the ladies. Within a mile or so I could see nemesis 1. She was doing a good pace and it seemed to take forever to catch her but as we reached a slightly steeper hill I knew it was doable and went past her slightly more out of breath than is ideal with 3 miles still to go. However I sensed her dropping back once I was past so ploughed on in search of nemesis 2. I passed several men but it seemed ages before I spotted her black ponytail and she was moving very confidently without any signs of tiring. We ran through some gently undulating bracken (I think) and I just couldn't get closer to her. Eventually with a slight climb I managed to make up some ground and eventually passed her with about ¾ of a mile to go. Unlike her predecessor she, however, put up a fight and I felt her behind me every step of the way. Having been caught on the line at my last race I was determined not to let her get me but it took all I had to hold her off. When we finally crossed the line I was just two seconds ahead of her. We hugged and congratulated each other - there is nothing better than a good battle to the line (especially when you win!). Paul had finished well ahead of me in spite of battling a horrible lurgy and it wasn't long before Mike and Till came in within seconds of each other. Jan looked disappointed as she crossed the line despite a strong time which won her age category. New Strider Lorna Simpkin also completed the race despite being unwell for most of it.

Four Peaks, Five Striders, how does that work? All in all it was a fabulous morning out and although the descents were tricky (for me anyway) this is a lovely introduction to fell racing for anyone thinking of giving it a go. It was well organised, friendly, raises money for a good cause and (most important of all) impossible to get lost.


position name time
1 Harry Holms 01:01:39
9 Paul Evans 01:11:47
16 Penny Browell 01:14:48
24 Mike Bennet 01:16:59
25 Till Sawala 01:17:09
61 Jan Young 01:37:53

72 finishers.

Hardmoors 60, Guisborough, North Yorkshire, 19–20th September

62m/10,000ft ascent

Dave Robson

Kit CheckI have come to love the Cleveland Way. My initial reaction after running along it a few times was that it was designed for walkers, not runners. Lots of steps, some of them very uneven, stone slabs which can be slippery in wet conditions and lots and lots of climbs. However, after now doing many Hardmoors events, the Osmotherley Phoenix and other events there I have changed my mind. The view are gorgeous and the sense of satisfaction you get from running on the Trail is hard to beat. The trail goes from Helmsley to Saltburn on the coast and then goes follows the coast to Filey.

I had run the first half from Helmsley to Guisborough, the Hardmoors 55, in 2010 in pretty awful conditions. I had always wanted to do the second half from Guisborough to Filey and when the organiser, Jon Steele, put on the Hardmoors 60 I was very tempted to enter. However, I wasn't confident of hitting the cut offs. This year the cut offs were extended and I thought I might make them. However, there was a nagging little voice inside me saying that maybe at sixty four years old I should have attempted it when I was younger. This was of course absolute rubbish and I wasn't the oldest runner there.

Preparation included the 53m Crosses, which didn't go particularly well and lots of climbs up Wainwright hills in August. I think both helped, particularly the hill walking.

The plan was that Melanie would support as her support made the Crosses so much easier, but a day before the event she came down with a bad cold. So I used drop bags and Denise Benvin, who was marshalling, offered to take a change of clothes to Ravenscar for me. That worked very well as the temperature changed dramatically after Ravenscar as the day changed from very hot to very cold.

Kath Dodd and I had agreed to run together. We and three Striders had run together at the Hardmoors Princess 31m two weeks ago and we had also spent some time running with Sara at that event. So Kath, Sara and I ran together in this event and it worked out very well. Sara had not run further than 36m and she did fantastically well finishing this event. Sue Jennings was the third Strider who ran the event, but she withdrew at Ravenscar having got there within the cut off time.

The event was 62m in total and is over 10,000 feet of ascent. I had set up the followmee tracker app on my phone which seemed to have little effect on my phone battery when the update rate was set to 15 minutes. However, at some point during the race I managed to switch on my flashlight. How I did this I don't know and it has happened before. The result was that my phone died in Whitby, which was a shame as Melanie was using the tracker to see where I was. Luckily Flip and one or two others were able to post updates on Facebook and send texts.

Stage 1 Guisborough to Runswick Bay

I felt I knew this pretty well. We started slowly and after the first stile I was last for a short while. The climb up to High Cliff Nab was muddier than I expected, but better than on the Hardmoors Roseberry Topping marathon last December. The view down on Guisborough was beautiful.

Some of this section I had covered several times, but there were sections I had only covered once. I was also unfamiliar with the location of the Saltburn checkpoint. However, the race description helped us to find this easily. I was also a little unsure of one part of the Skinningrove diversion. However, Flip and Anna and the two organisers were there to make sure we took the right turn.

Saltburn Viaduct

Skinningrove to Boulby I had done once before. There was many more hills than I remembered. At the top of them was my daughter and her husband with some very welcome supplies. It had developed into a hot day with little wind and we were drinking lots and lots of water.

Boulby to Runswick Bay goes through the attractive village of Staithes. It looked lovely in the beautiful weather. The next section was also one I had only done once a few years ago. Again there were more hills than I remembered. It was very hot and although it looked like we were going to get through our informal cut offs that I had calculated for lots of places, we didn't have a lot to spare and I was finding the heat and hills very hard going. It did cross my mind to pull out at Runswick Bay, but we had about 30 minutes to spare at that point so I decided to just see how it went. Looking back I think I was just going through a bad patch which is just inevitable in a long event. There were others who were wilting in the heat and eleven runners withdrew at this checkpoint. In total there were 163 finishers and 32 runners who withdrew.

Stage 2 Runswick Bay to Ravenscar

I thought this would be by far the toughest section especially the very familiar Whitby to Ravenscar section.

Runsiwck Bay

Runswick Bay was as lovely as ever and the climb out wasn't as bad as I expected it to be. I was rusty with the route to Sandsend, but it wasn't too bad. We were taking it pretty easy, walking all the ascents and gently running the rest. We went through Sandsend and saw the young boy who was rescued from the sea by one of the runners being attended to by the rescue services. The runner carried on and completed the event ! We made it to Whitby where I came across Angela and John who were having a weekend away. At this point my phone was losing charge because of the flashlight, so I had a conversation with Melanie to explain before the charge slipped away. At the top of the steps to the Abbey in Whitby, Kath and I had an ice cream, which was a welcome break on a hot day.

We kept on seeing the lovely Quaker running club support team who were supporting their runners who were just behind us for most of the way. Sara's partner Oliver and son Robin (eighteen months !) also popped up in lots of places and Flip also seemed to be everywhere. It is hard to explain what a difference this makes, but it certainly encourages me.

The Whitby to Robin Hood's Bay took us an hour and fifty minutes, about ten minutes faster than I expected. Flip was in charge of the checkpoint. The next section is only about four miles, but I have never done it in less than an hour. There are lots of climbs and descents. The descents aren't ones you can run down with carefree abandon and expect to live. They are steep, large steps and there are some rock steps which can be uneven and irregular.

We went into Ravenscar more tired than we had been two weeks ago when we finished the Princess Challenge. The heat and the extra ten miles had taken their toll. We spent 35 minutes at Ravenscar. I changed everything apart from running shoes - Scott Kinabalu Supertrack - I still think these suit me very well. I also had rice pudding and coffee and consumed some of my food from the drop bag.

Stage 3 Ravenscar to Filey

I had expected this to be much easier than the other two sections. In reality, I found it as hard as the two other sections.

We came out of the Ravenscar checkpoint and it was very dark and although I was now wearing a long sleeved top, I realised that I was cold and shivering. I put on fleece top and that stayed on until the finish. It is amazing what a change of clothes and food can do, we ran well on the way to Hayburn Wyke, again familiar territory from the event two weeks ago. I had hoped that Hayburn to Scalby Mills at the north end of Scarborough would be straightforward. It wasn't, it was much longer and more up and down than I had expected. I also made a minor navigational error, but that probably only cost us 3 minutes. Scarborough never seemed to arrive. We were walking more than running. When we arrived at the north end of Scarborough we were in danger of not making the cut off at the south end which was three miles of flat concrete away. We missed it by about four minutes but the marshalls seemed happy to let us continue. More coffee and flapjack were consumed.

Above Skinningrove

We set off again and we walked almost all of the next section to the finish at Filey. I was a bit rusty on the Cayton Bay to Filey section but I had saved my Garmin (my battery only lasts seven hour now) for Stage 3 and I had the route on there and this helped enormously otherwise we might have been tempted to follow the group ahead who made two errors and seemed very uncertain of which way to go. We ended up finishing with them although they had run much more of this section than we had. It was lovely to see Flip waiting for us at 2.00 am on Filey Brigg signalling us with his torch :-)

Trophy Would I do it again ? When I was doing it, I didn't think so, it was too tough to be enjoyable and the roller coaster of emotions you get on such events I find hard to cope with. But now, a few days after I have finished, I find myself thinking it was very scenic, the organisation was first class and the marshalls were just fantastic. I am wondering what I will think in a few days ! We were 22 minutes late into the finish, but nobody seemed to mind and there were others who came in soon after. This was the longest time I have ever spent on my feet in an event - 18 hours and 22 minutes.

Thanks to Flip for the lift back to my car in Guisborough where I slept for a few hours :-)

Simonside Fell Race, Thropton Show, 19th September

6.4M 1200' Cat BM

Nigel Heppell

See the small white bar-shape in a distant field near the centre of photo 1? - that's the marquee at the start and finish.

photo 1

photo 1

To get to this viewpoint you go up here - see photo 2.

photo 2

photo 2

and then you descend this - see photo 3.

photo 3

photo 3

You also run across some fields and through a river before being entertained by wrestling children, barking dogs, giant leeks and all the fun of this traditional show.

Results are interestingly presented, nobody gets a time, just a placing:

1st Man - Nick Swinburn, NFR 1st woman - Karen Robertson, NFR, position 24th

1st Associate strider - Susan Davis, NFR, 76th
1st Strider - Steph Piper, 86th
2nd Associate strider - Geoff Davis, NFR, 87th
2nd Strider and 3rd Associate strider - Nigel & Esme Heppell, 102nd

114 runners.

Birmingham Canal Canter, 19th September

26 or 18 miles

Aaron Gourley

Another fine LDWA eventWith the Hardmoors 60 taking place on the 19th September I needed to do something that would take my mind off it having decided to give it a miss this year. So going completely opposite to hills I went for the Birmingham Canal Canter, a 26 or 18 mile jaunt around the city's canal network. I was running with Gary Thwaites of Sedgefield Harriers so picked him up on the way down.

Arriving in Birmingham on Friday evening at our accommodation at Ackers Adventure Centre which was included in the total cost of this race (£25) we were plied with pizza and coffee. There was even wine on offer but managed to decline it.

The next morning we awoke to the smell of bacon, mushroom and tomato sandwiches being rustled up for everyone taking part. This was beginning to become an eating challenge too. After breakfast and registration we made our way to the start over the Grand Union Canal armed with a very comprehensive route guide. The sun was shining as we set off at 9:30am (walkers set off at 8:30am).

The first 7miles were tricky to navigate but there were handy little course markers at key turning points to reassure of the direction. The route wound its way along the River Cole, before we finally dropping back on to the canal heading to the first checkpoint which had toast and tea on offer. A fine checkpoint.

Leaving here the next checkpoint appeared after 13miles with more food on offer. The next section took us through the Gas Basin in the centre of Birmingham. It was great to see all the narrowboats lined up along the canal. From here we looped out towards Winson Green Prison where there was a checkpoint (17miles) which was stocked with some fine cakes. The carrot and ginger cake was magnificent. (Did the inmates make it?)

Back into the centre of Birmingham we followed the lock system through the city and out towards Spaghetti Junction. The canal network gives a glimpse of England's industrial heritage most of which is derelict now and a real shame to see. By 20miles I was starting to flag a little and the many, many little hump bridges were really starting to become a pain. Running beneath the brutal Spaghetti Junction has to one of the highlights of this race, oddly.

Pushing on we finally reached the last checkpoint with 2miles left to run. Before long the finish was in sight and awaiting us was any amount of hot and cold drinks and a delicious baked potato with cheese and beans. It was also a bonus to get a nice hot shower at the end before tackling the long drive home.

This was a fine, well organised race taking in some amazing sights around England's second city. At £25 for all food, accommodation and race entry (even cheaper if you're an LDWA member) I can't recommend this race highly enough and felt I should be giving them some more cash.

An Eyeful of Purple

Great North Run, 13th September

Pam Kirkup ...

This was to be my first real race for two years and I must admit I was filled with trepidation. I've done the GNR many times before but that seemed to make no difference, I was a bag of nerves. "Just treat it as a normal Sunday run" I was told, "relax and enjoy it!" Well, it's a plan but that's not how it turned out. The event was not without incident and hardly my finest hour.

nice and early

So we arrived in Newcastle before 9.00am and the Purple Gang poured off the bus and onto the Central Motorway for the long wait for the start. It was a touch cool, ideal for running we thought at first, then began the recurring process of eating bananas, drinking energy drinks and queuing for the portaloos, the usual GNR ritual. Eventually we herded into our 'pens' - mine White, section G along with Steph Piper and 25 minutes after the main race had begun we got to the Start Gantry and we were off!

My "normal Sunday run - just a jog" wasn't happening at first. I reached the 2 mile point in under 20 minutes which I knew I couldn't sustain for the whole course but more to the point it was starting to get quite hot and I was overheating. So a gentle jog and lots to drink and I got to Heworth in the certain knowledge that, whoever had won the race would have gone through the finish, had a shower and be on to his first pint by now. A humbling thought!

Feeling reasonably ok I trundled on down the A194 until I encountered 'Barging Brute no. 1'! Determined to get through, he knocked me flying without a second thought and I landed mostly on grass verge but managed to graze my elbow on the kerb. This was not too far from the left hand turn at White Mare Pool and the feeding station where there were some St John's Ambulance people. They cleaned me up and off I went in the direction of the dreaded hill on the John Reid Road up to the Crematorium. This has always been a bad patch for me and this year was no different. By now it was really hot and I was struggling. I began to wish I'd just written off the £104 this race cost me, or as Allan Seheult put it, £8 per mile! Still the thought of the Strider supporters with their jelly babies at the 10 mile mark spurred me on.

that eye is the colour of a fine wine.However, just approaching 10 miles I came across 'Barging Brute No 2'. I was running next to a woman who simply stopped dead and this bloke veered towards me and took me out. This time I hit the tarmac. Hard. I banged my forehead on the road which caused 2 cuts - one on my hairline and one on my right eye brow - and a nasty lump on my forehead. It hurt quite a lot. Thankfully this was close to a St John's tent and they saw what happened. They set about cleaning up my face - the 2 cuts were bleeding quite a bit - and they checked out the bruises around my right eye. "You're going to have some black eye tomorrow" they said. (Ain't that the truth!!) They asked if I felt dizzy or sick; did I have double vision or a headache and did I want to drop out? Other than blood trickling down my face from a rather ineffective plaster I felt ok and with 3 miles to go, of course I'm going to finish!! So armed with gauze pads to mop up the blood I set off again but very gently at first. The main First Aider told me that if you raise your heart rate any cut would bleed more quickly. Seemed to be true!

A few minutes later I reached the Striders supporters and Phil said "Bloody Hell has someone beaten you up?" He then took a photo!

The last 3 miles were slow and uncomfortable. Lots of kind people asked me if I was ok when they saw the state of my face. Eventually I reached the Front at South Shields and the last mile. My finishing time was dreadful - my worst ever, but I didn't care. I'd got round.

At the finish I was collared by yet another first aider - British Red cross this time. He insisted that I go to their 'field hospital' and once again cleaned me up. The plaster was removed and he was sure that the cuts would stop bleeding soon. They didn't! Thankfully I was given more gauze pads to mop my face and eventually I got to the Look Out pub and a well-earned drink with everyone. The landlady gave me a catering blue plaster for the worse of the 2 cuts and eventually, the bleeding did seem to lEssen.

Has it put me off? Not at all - I wished I'd had a few more weeks of training under my belt because I think I'd have coped better with the heat and the distance. But I’ll certainly enter again and in spite of everything I actually did enjoy the day.

Woke up today with a few bruises and a massive black eye, but at least it's in club colours!

the calm before the storm.

... Peter Matthews

Here's my story as a first timer!

After many, many years of claiming 'anyone can do a half marathon, it's only 2 hours!', I finally managed to actually sign up! I thought that I had better get some training (and expert advice!), so I joined Striders soon after I had my GNR place confirmed. That was quite possibly the best move: the track sessions have been great, and helped loads in getting my pace to be just that bit quicker!

Anyhow, to the race: I was way at the back of Pen G. Everyone had warned me that the start would be slow. That was not the case: it was a fast and clear start. I might have gone just a little too hard here, but I just couldn't resist the urge to blast my way down to the bridge! It was only at about mile 8/9 that the congestion started to build up, and then my legs didn't quite have the fight left in them to push past the crowds quite so swiftly! I managed to lift the pace for the last mile, but coming past the coast there was nothing left in the tank!

I clocked in at 2:01:46, a shade over my 2 hour target. But then my GPS said that I had run 13.4 miles: Mo's got it easy, that 0.3 mile would definitely have taken me more than 2 minutes!

The hardest part was getting up the hill to the Look Out pub for a well earned beer!

a final splash of colour from the red arrows.

Bristol Half Marathon, 13th September

Gareth Pritchard

Gareth heading for a PBOn the same day as our local Great North Run 7,215 West Country runners stand ready for the half marathon challenge. I have been struggling to beat my Half PB of about 1:22 for a while now but I’m in good shape and deep into marathon training so the signs were very good.

The Bristol half is a great course, flat in the main and a large crowd to cheer you on. You pass under the impressive suspension bridge twice and get to see some nice parts of the thriving Bristol harbour area. Well organised and supported, I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a alternative to GNR that happens to be in the area. Now onto my little half marathon story.

I knew I’d be able to do 6 min mile pace over 10 miles but over the half marathon distance would be a big challenge but possible. I knew it would be very painful but at least possible one day with the right training and good condition, so that was my goal pre race.

The first few miles were spot on for pace and I was feeling really good at the 4 mile turning point. My dad was also running today with a sub 2 hour goal so was a big buzz seeing him running so well on the other side of the road as we passed and shouted each other on. Pre race research meant I knew the half way point was near the suspension bridge and started to race hard as I picked people off. It’s an odd feeling to be passing people the whole race, but that’s what I did with ease and felt great. My marathon training was really paying off but the pace did drop slightly from mile 9 to 12 and not much I could do as my legs started to get heavy. I had zero taper leading into this race as it’s not my end goal so it was sort of expected. Even dropping 10 sec or so per mile I was still passing people, so still very positive.

I had a good race for the last mile with a local lad which kicked me back up to speed and blasted past him down the home straight as sprinting hard to a big PB. 1:18:55 for me and well under the 2 hours for my dad, so a great days running for the Pritchard’s and that 80 min barrier well and truly smashed. Not quite the fastest strider yet but at least I closed the gap, job done. I suspect my next half will probably be brass monkey next year. Now it’s marathon time yet again, York here I come.

Great Langdale Half Marathon, 12th September

Penny Browell

I’m not sure if I’m allowed to admit this but I don’t really like the Great North Run. Too many people and not enough hills for me! I do however love racing and didn’t want to miss out on a weekend when almost everyone I know was heading from Gateshead to South Shields. So I was delighted to discover the Great Langdale Half and Full marathons were taking place the same weekend. The half has been recommended to me several times as being a very beautiful run which although on road has some very serious hills. As a lover of the Lake District I couldn’t resist.

After a little persuading, Jon Ayres decided to join me and Tamsin Imber (she of mad marathon running) opted for the full marathon (two laps of the half) but other than that we were the only Striders to head West. The weather forecast was not good. After a week of lovely weather there were predictions of heavy rain and sadly they were, for once, right. As we drove over Jon cursed me – we couldn’t see any of the lovely views and the roads were quickly becoming rivers. When we got to the start of the race we parked in a waterlogged field and waded out towards the registration. Despite me insisting the weather would improve, the rain would just not let up. It went from heavy to torrential back to heavy. About 10 minutes before the race was due to start we were told there would be a 30 minute delay so we hid in the car watching the rain pour down. When it was eventually time to face what we’d come here for we realised that things were finally improving. We could see some of our surroundings and the downpour had downgraded to rain or even drizzle.

As we wandered to the start line Jon asked me what time I was aiming for. On such a hilly course it’s hard to know what is possible but we agreed somewhere below 1.45 would be good – I suggested nearer 1.40 than 1.45 but neither of us really committed to a goal. Before long we were off. The race started in a muddy field but other than that and a short section on track it is entirely on road. The first mile or so is lovely – gently undulating and we had the added fun of a flood to wade through. I felt good but soon we were hit by the first of many proper hills. Many people were brought down to walking pace but with weeks of hill training in the bag from my summer holiday I felt pretty strong and enjoyed pushing on. We passed Blea Tarn and then dropped back down before tackling a few more climbs, including a truly evil one as we came out of Skelwith Bridge. The rain came and went and there were some fairly flooded areas on the road but the views were spectacular. The last few miles were not too painful hill-wise and a couple of miles before the end someone shouted to me that I was second lady which gave me a great boost. I to and fro’d with the man in front of me and finally got past him so was feeling positive but just as we came into the final 100m back in the field, a man came flying past me and a few spectators started cheering and shouting. The man stopped and looked back which made me do the same. As I came to a stop a lady (his club-mate) flew past me into the home straight. I tried to catch her but it was not to be. So I crossed the line third lady which I was more than happy with, especially when my garmin told me my time was 1.38, way faster than I’d expected. As I told my competitor, she ran brilliantly and deserved her place. A couple of minutes later Jon crossed the line – now admitting that his real target was 1.40 which he had just missed by a few seconds. He was a touch disappointed (not least because he’d been beaten by a girl!) but did admit that it was a great race and he was (I think) glad I’d persuaded him to join me. We weren’t around to see Tamsin finish but she also had a great race finishing the 26.2 miles in 4 ½ hours.

I know there are other more well-known races around this time of year but I really do recommend this to anyone who likes a challenge. The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly and being on road it meant you could see the beauty of the Lake District without having to take on fell racing. I’ll definitely be back. I may even tackle the full one year…

Middlesbrough Tees Pride 10k, 6th September

Dave Spence

I entered this race some time ago thinking that it would give me a chance to set a new personal best 10K time and fit in with preparation for the GNR a week later. The previous week I had survived the what can only be described as a brutal Jelly Tea (I think Dougie rather underplayed the difficulty). Oh all that pain for a bit of jelly and a sandwich. But one needs to suffer to progress ( was that Nietzsche or maybe more likely Mudwoman Susan Davis?).

So back to the Tees Pride. I prevaricated between this or the Coxhoe Trail for a week before but then decided having paid I should run it. So awoke to a lovely coolish morning and had an easy and leisurely drive to Middlesbrough. Research on Google helped me to find a parking place about half a mile from the start/finish. There is very much the atmosphere of a smaller GNR , 2000+ entries, with athletes village etc. Having carried out the usual pre race prep (ie regular visits to the toilets) I spotted Mike Elliott and we geed each other up or I think that’s what we did. Then a few dynamic exercises (Alan S would be pleased).

Then a wander over to the start and wiggled my way forward to the under 50mins section. Listened to the tales of woe of those around me from Marske Harriers and then we were off. My target being 7.45 mpm to set a new pb.

I had started well enough forward to have a clear run. The first mile is a drag uphill but nothing compared to the hills of Durham. Then a left turn where the road becomes undulating for about half a mile before a left turn( should I say at this point its all left turns on a rectangular route). Then for about 2 miles it is a long gentle downhill so looking at the watch at 3 miles was at 7.30mpm average pace. Felt good and under control. But and there’s always a but another left turn and from about 4.5m the course becomes undulating and drags uphill all the way to the finish. Starting to feel the heat on a warm sunny day and pace was slipping to 7.38 with half a mile to go. But took heart from the bands hammering out heavy noise and saw the left turn ahead into the finishing tunnel. But why can’t the finish be just round the corner rather than always 200 yards away.

Powering (or should that be stumbling) across the line in a time of 47.10. A personal best by nearly a minute. Happy with that and congrats to all purplies who took part. Now for the GNR.

So if you are after a well managed race supported by lots of people on the route with the chance of a good time this is worth a go.


position name club cat catpos gun time chip time
1 Tadele Geremew Mulugeta Elswick Harriers M 1 0:30:36 0:30:36
7 Alyson Dixon Sunderland Strollers F35 1 0:32:17 0:32:17
250 Katy Walton F 16 0:43:14 0:42:53
390 Fiona Jones F35 9 0:46:11 0:45:09
432 Helen Todd F35 10 0:46:59 0:45:57
525 David Spence M60 11 0:48:25 0:47:10
563 Andrew Davies F35 13 0:49:18 0:47:55
687 David Case M 288 0:51:12 0:50:27
690 Victoria Brown F 54 0:51:15 0:47:54
819 Dougie Nisbet M50 71 0:53:25 0:51:31
1101 James Potter M 408 0:57:43 0:55:45
1484 Helen Hall F45 76 1:03:42 0:59:37
1806 Mike Elliott M60 64 1:10:16 1:05:23
2059 Bev Walker F50 74 1:19:27 1:14:37

2213 finishers.

Coxhoe 10K Trail Run, 6th September

Sarah Davies

Encouraged by rave reviews of last year’s inaugural event, large numbers of Elvet Striders descended on Coxhoe for this year’s 10k trail run. Of the 125 or so participants at least 20 were Striders (there would doubtless have been more had it not been for a little half marathon which I am told is rapidly approaching.)

Prizewinning Striders at Coxhoe.

It was a beautiful sunny morning and after my month-long break from training I was looking forward to running at a relatively leisurely pace and enjoying the scenery. After a slightly congested start, things soon opened up. The course really is attractive with plenty of variety including some lovely wooded sections. It’s mainly on old railway lines and quarry paths - there are three roads to cross but, like the course as a whole, these crossing points are well marshalled. Towards the middle of the race, we had to tackle quite a long, steep climb up through a plantation. This was exhausting in the heat, and it was a relief to see a sign reading ‘halfway point’ not long afterwards. The second half of the course seemed to be more downhill than up until just before the finish, where we faced a final killer hill. I had been warned about this, and managed to drag myself up it, knowing that the end must be close.

As I approached the finish, someone called out that I was first lady. This came as a great surprise: I have never even come close to winning a race before and had deliberately not been pushing myself in this one! But an even greater surprise lay in store: the massive and exceptionally heavy trophy presented to me at the prize-giving! There were prizes all round for team Striders, with Stephen Jackson as third man and Richard Hockin and Shelagh Barton as first V60s. Some great performances from others too, including Ashley Price-Sabate in her first 10k. A huge thanks to everyone who made this run happen, especially to Neil Sleeman and to the Strider marshals who provided Haribos and encouragement. All in all, this was a very memorable morning. I’ve never won a cup before and probably never will again, so I’ll cherish this one as a reminder of all that is unexpected, funny and lovely about running.

Phil Johnson 5k, Barrow Haven, Lincolnshire, 1st September

Steph Piper

Clan PiperThis was a one-off race by Barton and District Athletics Club in memory of Phil Johnson, a local athlete who sadly lost his battle with cancer this year. I was down visiting the family for a few days and had taken my running gear, expecting to go for a training run with my dad and his club, the Wold's Veterans. Formal training wasn't on due to the Bank Holiday and dad decided to save his legs for the race on Tuesday evening.

I hoped there might be EOD, but dad said Phil had been a popular chap, and the 100-capacity race had sold-out with a long reserve list. Still, as we headed out the door dad to race, and the Piper girls to spectate I grabbed my running gear on the off-chance there might be a number going spare. At the registration desk, as dad picked his number up, I asked if they might have had a no-show and I could transfer. Even better they had a single number spare! For £3 (profits to the Brain Tumour Society), I was in. As they say up here Shy bairns get nowt!

We lined up on the start and, with a very brief announcement and thanks, were off along the flat country roads of Barrow-upon-Humber. The course was a simple triangle out from the pub with a couple of sharp left turns and back again. A couple of gentle inclines between the second and third km markers allowed me to leave several Barrow AC girls behind (I overheard several of dad's Wolds Vets team mates lamenting these 'hills' at the finish line! Ah, the flatlands!).

I kept a steady pace round the course and the final mile towards the finish felt long, but with the Humber Bridge on the horizon resplendent again the sunset, it felt good to reflect on all that running is, and does. A lovely run out, and a befitting memorial race.