Race Reports, November 2016

Grand Prix Race. Mud King/Mud Queen Race.

Harrier League, Thornley Hall Farm, 26th November

Velvet Strider

Results

u17 and u20 girls
position bib name cat pack race time actual time
1 301 Isobel Chaudrey (Gateshead Harriers) FU17 M 19:13 18:08
3 280 Sally Hughes FU20 S 19:52 19:52

41 finishers.

women
position bib name cat pack race time actual time
1 553 Alex Sneddon (Jarrow & Hebburn AC) Fsen F 29:13 25:53
30 432 Tasmin Imber FV40 M 31:57 30:17
57 417 Penny Browell FV40 F 33:06 29:46
65 413 Mandy Dawson FV45 M 33:15 31:35
74 411 Louise Warner FV35 M 33:36 31:56
78 380 Helen Tones FV40 M 33:43 32:03
81 419 Rachelle Mason FV35 S 33:45 33:45
85 431 Susan Davis FV55 S 33:55 33:55
99 428 Stephanie Piper Fsen S 34:08 34:08
105 391 Juliet Percival FV40 M 34:22 32:42
141 374 Fiona Jones FV35 S 35:26 35:26
158 425 Sarah Davies FV45 M 36:05 34:25
176 415 Nina Mason FV40 S 37:12 37:12
181 382 Jan Young FV60 S 37:24 37:24
183 369 Diane Harold FV40 S 37:28 37:28
212 351 Anja Fechtner FV35 S 38:47 38:47
214 408 Lesley Hamill FV40 S 38:50 38:50
229 434 Victoria Jackson FV35 S 39:28 39:28
241 389 Joanne Porter FV45 S 40:30 40:30
248 409 Louise Barrow Fsen S 40:40 40:40
249 359 Catherine Smith FV40 S 40:42 40:42
267 426 Stacey Brannan FV35 S 42:43 42:43
283 360 Catherine Walker FV55 S 45:03 45:03
290 402 Kerry Barnett FV40 S 46:01 46:01

302 finishers.

men
position bib name cat pack race time actual time
1 1723 Sebastian Anthony (Loughborough) guest S 36:11 36:11
24 556 Stephen Jackson Msen F 40:25 35:25
61 521 Jason Harding MV45 M 41:47 39:17
87 514 Gareth Pritchard MV35 F 42:30 37:30
92 533 Matt Claydon MV40 S 42:35 42:35
94 540 Neil Sleeman MV40 S 42:36 42:36
103 536 Michael Littlewood MV40 M 42:46 40:16
113 507 David Gibson MV45 S 43:02 43:02
114 519 Jack Lee Msen M 43:02 40:32
163 546 Phil Ray MV35 S 44:15 44:15
171 516 Graeme Walton MV40 S 44:26 44:26
182 563 Tom Reeves MV50 S 44:35 44:35
204 500 Danny Lim MV35 S 45:07 45:07
208 534 Matthew Archer MV35 S 45:13 45:13
228 515 Geoff Davis MV55 S 45:46 45:46
240 487 Aaron Gourley MV35 S 45:57 45:57
261 535 Michael Hughes MV45 S 46:44 46:44
292 499 Daniel Mitchel MV35 S 48:34 48:34
307 549 Richard Hockin MV60 S 49:15 49:15
362 561 Tim Matthews MV50 S 51:59 51:59
395 492 Andrew Davies MV40 S 54:12 54:12
407 510 Dougie Nisbet MV50 S 55:21 55:21
412 498 Craig Walker MV55 S 56:23 56:23
433 545 Phil Owen MV50 S 60:49 60:49
437 544 Peter Hart MV35 S 61:42 61:42

450 finishers.

Wooler Trail Marathon, 20th November

28 miles

Aaron Gourley

Dressed for the weather.I’d battled with myself as to whether to enter this race for a while then late on Friday afternoon, race organiser Garry Scott posted a video on the Trail Outlaws Facebook page from a very snowy Cheviot summit. By the time the video had finished my mind was made up, I was in and luckily just in time as entries would close very shortly after.

So forward to Sunday and I left the warmth of my bed and headed up to Wooler for the Wooler Trail Marathon organised by Tim Bateson and Garry Scott of Trail Outlaws. I first met Tim a few years ago on a recce of the Hardmoors 55 and kept in touch ever since as he’s grown Trail Outlaws. I ran their first ever race the Pieces of 8 half marathon, but since then the races have grown to include several ultras and marathons across the north east and Northumberland. Tim’s a great guy and his passion for running and in particular, the Chevy Chase fell race held each summer in Wooler, being the inspiration for this particular race.

Registration was in Wooler YHA and was quick and efficient although I did get there rather early just to be sure. As more runners arrived I spotted Dougie Nisbet who was also running the marathon and had a quick chat before making my way out into the cold for the race safety briefing before we were led over to the start line just over the hill for the race start.

Taking in much of the first part of the Chevy Chase, the Wooler Trail Marathon snakes its way through the valley to the base of the Cheviot before a long climb to the summit. Race day was cold but could have been a lot worse, and thankfully the low temperatures meant that the ground was pretty much frozen solid which made for good running.

Onwards and upwards towards the summit the field of 140+ runners was well stretched now. I’d started from mid-pack and took it easy, running at a pace that felt very comfortable across the undulating trails knowing that if I set off too fast, I’d suffer badly at the end.

Somewhere on top of Cheviot As I trudged up the long frozen path to the summit of the Cheviot I passed a few other competitors but was conscious to maintain my pace so that I never felt like I was working too hard as gradient rose above the low cloud line and the perma-frost turned to snow and ice on the ground. Near the summit a hardy marshal was stood to make sure runners were ok and guide us up over the ladder stile and on to the slab path heading to the summit. The summit of Cheviot is big and flat and the low cloud and snow covered floor blurred together to hide any visual cues that helped you identity you were approaching the top. Then after a few minutes of running the large summit cairn came into view. I touched and then was off, following the treacherous slab path of the Pennine Way off the summit and down towards the check point being manned by Phil Owen.

Clear route signage all the way roundI gained quite a few places on the long downhill as others cautiously made their way down the frozen trail paths. I found it much quicker, and safer, to find a line in the overgrowth, let loose and put faith in my Walshes and balance. It worked and I made good progress and the race now followed the trails of the Pennine Way before heading across the border into Scotland.

A sharp turn brought us off the Pennine Way and back across the border into England onto the St Cuthbert’s Way long distance path. Back on lower ground below the cloud line the scenery was jaw dropping as I took time to savour where I was running.

As the route snaked its way back towards Wooler there were still plenty of twists, turns, climbs and surprises on offer, the trail through a dense wood at around 18 miles being rather inspiring. I was still running well and feeling really good but know these races too well to get carried away - there’s always a sting in the tail on something like this. Because of my very late entry, I’d not noticed that this race was actually 28 miles so on approaching the final climb of the day I had in my mind there were only a few more miles left to go. I made the decision to push on a little as I could see a couple of runners ahead of me that seemed to be slowing so thought I’d try catching them. I made good ground and could feel my heart and lungs really starting to work hard as I picked up the pace and eventually with Wooler in sight, I realised I might have further to go than I thought. The runners I was tracking were soon out of sight as I hit the road for the final mile back to the YHA feeling tired but strong and with a massive smile on my face at the quality of the course I’d just completed.

The finish was inside the hostel, I was given my time - 5hrs40mins finishing in 32nd place. The t-shirt and medal were well earned and the kitchen was stocked with loads of hot soup and bread to help warm up.

This was a fantastic first race with lots of potential to become a real winter classic. I take my hat off to Tim and Scott for devising such a good route.

Grand Prix Race. Endurance Champion Race.

Brampton to Carlisle, 20th November

10M

Tamsin Imber ...

Photo by Helen Linton
Pre race
Well, what a top day for a run! Cold yes, but blue skies and the sun is coming out as we arrive in Brampton. I enter the school and join the throng of club runners-it is buzzing with a cheerful vibe! And it's warm inside! After bumping into a few Striders here and there, I head outside as there is still half an hour before the start-so time for a short warm up around Brampton. Brampton is a pretty village indeed. I find a few quiet side streets to run along. I bump into a man walking his dog and his dog starts to run with me, so I offer to take him to Carlisle :-). Further about the village I spot a few other runners warming up-they are all male and not wearing much-they look like fast runners! Noting the time I head back to base to catch Mr Walton.
The Plan
Prior to now I have always ran how I feel. In races this has sometimes worked, and sometimes resulted in 'the Crash' when I have set off far too fast! So today, Graeme has very kindly agreed to run with me using his watch to pace us. So I get to see how it feels like to run a paced run and also to see how to use a watch. We finalise our plan just before the race. We were going to go for 71 minutes with a negative split pacing, but Graeme suggests trying for sub-70 as we seemed comfortable at 6.55min/m on the track for 10minutes on Wednesday ... I'm always up for a challenge ... so why not. We can always drop back to even splits if it doesn't work out.
The Start
Graeme and I join the crowd, squashing in behind Stephen and Matt at the start-line. After 'the wait that is before every start' everyone moves forward like at a music gig when someone comes on stage ... and we are off! Down the hill, round the sharp bend and out of Brampton. It's a bit congested. Graeme keeps looking at his watch, and I just follow Graeme!
Mile 1
Congested and following Graeme.
Mile 2
The sun comes out. Nice views across the fields. Still a bit congested. I am warm now. I angle through a gap in the runners to throw my £4 hoodie that got from the British Heart Foundation charity shop last week to the roadside. (We'll drive back this way and pick it up if it's there, if it's not that's fine).
Mile 3
Nice. We are into a steady pace now. I'm enjoying this. A down followed by an up and then onto the smaller road.
Mile 4
Running. Nice country road, nice weather, what's not to like? Graeme keeps looking at his watch, he is keeping us in a good steady pace. As we go round a bend I notice 3 girls ahead. Hummm. I wonder if Graeme has noticed? Probably not. I wonder if his watch will notice if I speed up just slightly and creep past them? Hummm, we are not supposed to increase pace until Mile 5.
Mile 5
Excellent I can see the mile 5 marker! Ha. I increase pace a bit and get past those girls . Graeme looks at his watch.
Mile 6
Graeme looks at his watch.

We have a mile 6 sign and then a 10k (6.2 mile) sign. It confuses me as I have done quite a few half marathons recently and this is half way, I remind myself it is a 10mile race. Graeme now suggests we don't increase pace til after the bridge, hummm maybe we went off too fast for a negative split for my level of fitness, I guess that is the danger of aiming too high. Well, if we can do even split that is ok.

Mile 7
This mile was hard. I am not sure why! I just had to grit my teeth through it!
Mile 8
This was a good mile. Graeme shouts out that we only need to do 2 more miles at 7 minute pace. Excellent! I can do this. Towards the end of mile 8 Graeme seems to be running faster and faster! Suddenly it feels like a time trial! Is this really still 7 min mile pace? It is uphill, maybe that's why it is hard?. I have also noticed 3 more girls ahead, I get behind them but it's hard to get past as they are running astride. Graeme is urging me on. A quote I read somewhere flits into my head. 'Racing hurts, get over it' that was easy to accept when sitting on the sofa ha ha!, however I'm not stopping now, I try and keep up with Graeme's legs!

At this point it is clear Graeme could run the last bit faster than me, I think he should just go, but he doesn't as he is a Gentleman.

Mile 9
I wish I knew where the finish was, then it would be mentally easier I think. But, its only 4 laps of the track I tell myself. Graeme is being very encouraging all the time. Why did they build The Sands so far away? We are now running with 5 ish other guys. My breathing is really loud! so I am pleased there is background traffic noise! Graeme urges me past them, and I try and manage an increase in speed for a bit, but I don't know where the finish is so slow down again. Graeme shouts out it's just round the corner, but I'm not sure which corner he means, there are people in the way! Aghh! And then the path is lined with people and low and behold the finish line is just ahead! Mr Walton is ahead but lets me pass just 1m from the line! What a good sport! ... And ooo it's so good to stop! ..After recovering Graeme checks his watch for one last time-wayhay! 1hr 09 mins! We did it!
Post race
Thanks so much Graeme! This was really helpful! Graeme's watch showed that we did even splits. .. ha. It's funny how different a 7 min mile feels at the start compared to at the end! I really enjoyed this race and I would definitely do it again! It's a nice route and a good club event!

... Lucy Herkes

Brampton to Carlisle 10m today has been a weird day with a weird run and a mix of emotions…

I woke up this morning feeling just quite bleurgh about the day. It was more that I just felt like I couldn’t be bothered to run 10 miles. I just wanted to stay in bed. My legs were tired from the thousands of steps I had walked delivering leaflets this week and my mind was tired because.. Well just because…. But I battled on and got up. Task 1 complete.

Task 2 was to actually get ready for the race. Loads of self doubt just kept giving me this mental block. Even down to the smallest things like which gloves to wear and which top and the thought of these things was giving me a sense of dread ! It was weird! I got ready anyway and made it to the bus. Our running club puts on a bus for some of the races and this was one of them. As soon as I got on the bus and saw my friends I felt better. I think it’s being around other people. And when those people are smiley and happy, I think that’s infectious. They build my confidence. Not only around running but all aspects. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many people believe in me. So when I’m asked what’s helped in my recovery I have to say not only running but the friends I have made through running. I’ve only known them maybe 18 months but already they feel like family.

We arrived in Carlisle an hour before the race started. Luckily the start was next to a school so we were able to keep warm inside and use the toilet (only 4 times I think this race, it’s getting better!) Anyway, the ‘ideal’ in my head was to keep the race pace at around 9:15 min/miles. I figured that if I could do that, it equates to a 2:01:00 half marathon. My next half marathon is in York in January and it’s totally flat so I was going to try and push for 2 hours. This felt like such a good plan. I ran alone, I wanted to just see what I was capable of. Running alone was good in a way as I was able to focus on what I was doing, but at times it was lonely too and not so good for my motivation!! Anyway, for the 1st 3miles I was running around 9 minute miles. I knew this was faster than what I had planned but I felt good so I kept at it. That was the mistake I made I think. I went off too fast for the first 10k and so after that I really struggled. (I did get a 10k PB!)

With me, I never know what goes first, mental strength or physical strength. Or in other words do I become physically tired or mentally tired ? Or does one cause the other and vice versa..? For the last half I really struggled. I can’t even explain what with. My breathing was fine, it wasn’t that. My legs, yes were tired but not overly tired but my mental strength did disappear. All I could hear inside was …

“He’s walking just have a walk!”
“You haven’t made your time anyway so just stop.”
“You are so slow!”
“You won’t do well, you won’t continue, you’re useless, people will be finished and you’re still struggling.”

For some people they say that they can give themselves a boot up the backside and when people pass in a race it motivates them to catch them. But it is the opposite for me. If someone passes I think “well screw it, I’m shit!” It’s like I go into a self-doubting, weak mental frame of mind where my thoughts turn from “this feels good, keep going,” to “you’re shit, just stop.”

Once I’m in this mindset I don’t seem to be able to pull myself out. A couple of friends caught me/I caught a couple and that gave me a little boost, enough to get to the end. I just wish my mind was as strong as my legs. I don’t think it’s just me who experiences this though, right?

So I finished. My average pace was 9:25 which I was disappointed with but it did teach me what I need to do about pacing for this half marathon in January. I just wish I could get some sort of magic pill that kept my mind strong. Overall I had a great day. Even though I was slightly disappointed in my time, thinking about it, I really beat myself up and criticise myself and I think I need to be kinder. I keep trying to think that I wouldn’t criticise a friend for going slower than hoped for and I would be proud of their achievements. Just wish I could think like this for myself. The day was rounded odd perfectly – dinner, pudding and wine with friends and then a few gins, Xfactor and I’m a celebrity. Not the most healthy food and drink choice but hey ho we all need a treat.

Here are my splits from yesterday – they’re hilarious and certainly shows where I went wrong!

positively split times

Results

position name cat catpos chip time
1 Nick Swinburn (Morpeth Harriers & AC) 50:18
45 Tracy Millmore (Birtley AC) L 1 58:35
21 Stephen Jackson 56:08
33 Gareth Pritchard 57:23
65 Jason Harding V45 9 1:00:10
113 Matt Archer 1:04:44
152 Simon Gardner V45 22 1:06:50
207 Tamsin Imber L40 6 1:09:44
208 Graeme Walton V40 29 1:09:44
341 David Case 1:16:57
342 Stuart Barker 1:17:12
351 Nicola Whyte L 65 1:17:40
358 Jean Bradley L60 1 1:18:12
381 Jonathan Hamill V40 47 1:20:33
413 Victoria Brown L35 18 1:22:32
414 Katy Walton L35 19 1:22:33
427 David Browbank 1:23:03
481 Helen Parker L40 21 1:26:24
486 Angela Greathead L40 23 1:27:05
493 Robin Linton 1:27:24
501 Mark Herkes 1:27:52
502 Anna Seeley L 130 1:27:53
503 Catherine Smith L40 25 1:27:55
527 Diane Harold L40 29 1:29:26
561 Deborah McFarland L 167 1:33:57
563 Jane Dowsett L45 18 1:34:03
569 Lucy Herkes L 171 1:34:13
575 Joanne Patterson L 177 1:34:29
577 Christine Farnsworth L65 1 1:34:46
584 Katie Davison L 181 1:35:35
617 George Nicholson V65 22 1:38:58
618 Katie-Louise Finney L 203 1:39:12
621 James Nicholson V65 23 1:39:20
625 Teresa Archer L 209 1:39:46
627 Huw Dixon V55 38 1:39:54
635 Karen Chalkley L50 23 1:40:16
636 Debra Thompson L50 24 1:40:54
642 Kelly Collier L 221 1:43:05
653 Kerry Barnett L45 26 1:46:44
655 Aileen Scott L45 27 1:49:44
656 Julie Jarratt L45 28 1:50:12
659 Stan White V55 39 1:52:00
661 Margaret Thompson L65 2 1:53:11
665 Neil Jennings V50 51 1:55:33
666 Laura Gibson L40 45 1:55:52
667 Sophie Dennis L 241 1:56:46
670 Natalie Johnson L35 50 1:58:56
673 Lisa Hall L 247 2:02:41
676 Rachel Leigh-Firbank L40 47 2:16:12
677 Elaine Jennings L50 28 2:16:12

Finishers 677.

Grand Prix Race. Mud King/Mud Queen Race.

If it's Good Enough for an Olympian......

Sherman Cup & Davison Shield, 19th November

Mudman

A bright, cold day saw 25 Striders compete over a gentle x/c course ideal for beginners. This one off cup fixture hosted by the HL tends to attract smaller fields than the league matches themselves but, without the usual pack system, we still saw a men’s field of 379 and a women’s of 286.

Thirteen Strider women lined up to do battle with two times Olympic 1500m finalist Laura Weightman. Louise managed to get closest to her followed by Sarah and Helen and these were our counters for the Women’s Vet team (we had no senior team as no u/35 Striders competed!) As ever though there was plenty of support for them from faces old and new such as Jenny Search running for the first time this season and Jan Young running her millionth x/c supported by daughter Nina, in the race itself, and grand-daughter Leigh on the sidelines. The team received some enthusiastic support from Strider children ringing bells and waving purple and silver wavy things. It was much appreciated.

As a warm up to next Saturday’s crucial league fixture at Thornley, a dozen Strider men chose to compete here today for their club and were rewarded with 13th place in the Vet Team competition. Michael led the team home followed by a determined and grimacing James. Phil Ray was our first non vet home but once again we didn’t have sufficient youngsters to make up a senior team. That didn’t stop Richard Hockin from finishing first v60 home though!

Another great x/c day out was had by all, and it was particularly pleasing to see certain children of Strider parents perform so well in their orange vests. Potential Olympians of the future sharing the stage with an Olympian of today. If x/c is good enough for them then it’s good enough for me too!

Results

men
position bib name cat race time
1 852 Carl Avery (Morpeth Harriers & AC Msen 29:10
82 536 Michael Littlewood MV40 36:09
112 520 James Garland MV40 37:21
172 546 Phil Ray MV35 39:31
215 515 Geoff Davis MV55 41:15
227 535 Michael Hughes MV45 41:33
234 497 Conrad White MV55 41:44
287 549 Richard Hockin MV60 43:46
315 561 Tim Matthews MV50 45:21
317 492 Andrew Davies MV40 45:23
357 496 Chris Shearsmith MV35 48:54
364 555 Stephen Ellis MV60 50:54

379 finishers.

women
position bib name cat race time
1 1172 Laura Weightman (Morpeth Harriers & AC) Fsen 21:29
49 411 Louise Warner FV35 28:00
81 425 Sarah Davies FV45 28:57
169 379 Helen Thomas FV40 31:47
172 384 Jenny Search FV40 31:55
177 369 Diane Harold FV40 32:07
179 356 Camilla Lauren-Maatta FV50 32:08
181 382 Jan Young FV60 32:19
190 415 Nina Mason FV40 32:38
206 434 Victoria Jackson FV35 33:17
215 351 Anja Fechtner FV35 33:44
254 389 Joanne Porter FV45 35:46
273 402 Kerry Barnett FV40 40:14
277 390 Joanne Richardson FV40 40:27

286 finishers.

Heaton Harriers Memorial 10K, Newcastle Town Moor, 13th November

Stephen Jackson

Shoulder to ShoulderWhen it comes to running, along with many other aspects of my life, I’m a creature of habit.

There are hundreds of great races that take place all over the North of England and further afield and often I check the results, browse the photos and think; I’d love to give that one a go.

However, my race calendar usually consists of 5-6 core races that I always try and enter; everything else has to fit around family life. This event now sits firmly amongst that select bunch. Brass Monkey, London Marathon, Sunderland 5k, Bridges of the Tyne, Clive Cookson 10k, Brampton to Carlisle. What’s the common theme? I’ll give you a clue, it ain’t the scenery.

If the weather is kind (more specifically; the wind) this has everything I could possibly want from an event. It’s a flat, fast course and a well organised, chip-timed race with a competitive field. Small enough to get your toes somewhere near the start line and big enough to provide a bit of competition throughout the field.

The minutes’ silence beforehand provided some stark perspective, a very fitting way of paying respect whilst doing something, running, that epitomises the freedom that our fallen soldiers died for.

The onset of a head cold during the week, coupled with the fact that this wasn’t my 'A race' meant that my expectations weren’t especially high – perhaps a good thing as it is emerged. I knew I was in pretty good shape after a 6-7 week block of heavy training following the Great North Run. This training programme, under the guidance of Allan Seheult, was interspersed only with a couple of cross country races and I still maintain a lot of my road PBs have been earned, in some part, during those slogs around the North East Harrier League.

The race was a dream, and one of those joyously unexpected results that leaves you thinking did I really do that? Finding that precarious balance between speed (all relative) and control is not easy; but on Sunday I had some help. Around 7km into the race, just as I was really starting to tire someone went past my right shoulder looking, it must be said, far more comfortable than I was feeling. For the next mile I didn’t so much as glance at my watch, I knew it wouldn’t make a difference. I shadowed this poor bloke, stride for stride. If only psychologically, it felt like he was doing the work for me. This gave me a real boost before the final km which had to take care of itself, nothing left on the course, no ‘what-ifs’.

Ten seconds with my hands on my knees, a glance at my watch, then a smile. I love running.

And yes, I did beat him in the end.

Saltergate Gallows, 6th November

BM / 10.6 miles / 1411 feet

Penny Browell

A typical Dave Parry prize giving, from Saltergate Gallows 2011This is one of the Esk Valley races which I’d always fancied as it starts in Levisham, a lovely village where I’d been on holiday a few years ago. A few weeks before the race it was announced that this year’s would be run as a memorial to Dave Parry, who had been the face of Esk Valley races for years and had recently very sadly lost his battle with cancer. After hearing this I decided that although I’m cutting down on races, this would be one to put in the diary.

As the day approached the weather forecast was not the best – a part of me was quite pleased though as it had been a while since I’d run a race in bad weather and I do always enjoy the extra challenges it can present. However as we drove down I reminded myself you should be careful what you wish for. The rain was heavy and the winds strong and I started to wonder whether I really wanted to run in this. On arrival the rain kept coming and going – I think I must have changed my mind about whether to wear my waterproof about 5 times but when we lined up at the start and it started to hail I realised I had to face the fact that this was going to be a wet one… There was a decent turnout of Striders to pay their respects to Dave and the cheer when his name was mentioned went on for a good long while as was fitting. It didn’t feel right to be running one of these races without him there to send us off..

But off we went and within a couple of hundred metres I felt terrible. The race starts with a hill and I just felt exhausted straight away. I had hoped to try and stay somewhere near Geoff and Tom but they sped away and out of view within minutes… Once we were off the track and into proper fell racing I started to enjoy myself more. OK it wasn’t going to be my best race ever but I could still make the most of being in this lovely part of the world. The race is a kind of figure of 8 and really has a bit of everything – some fairly steep climbs, nice descents and a reasonable amount of track where you can get a bit of speed. As I settled in I started to pick off a few runners and on a long steady climb I spotted Geoff ahead of me and wondered whether I had it in me to make this the race I pay him back for James Herriot earlier this year. To be fair he had run more than 20 miles in the Lakes the day before but still I’ll take any situation to try and get a victory! So at the top of the hill I did indeed pass him, only for him to get me back on the descent…. At about the 6 mile mark there was a steeper climb through knee deep mud. I smiled to myself as I remembered asking Tom whether he thought it would be muddy and he’d given me a look as if to say “Are you mad?”. This was proper mud, rain, wind and everything and I was loving it! On this climb I managed to pass Geoff again who murmured something about it being all downhill from here. I thought that seemed unlikely since we still had more than 4 miles to go but carried on. (It later turned out Geoff had his watch on km rather than miles and thought the race was nearly over!)

The last part of the race was fairly easy with nothing too steep and less difficult underfoot – although there were some impressive puddles a couple of which had me submerged up to my thighs. As I slowly picked off more runners I spotted Shelli Gordon ahead. For those who don’t know Shelli, she is an amazing runner who wins pretty much all of the Hardmoors races. I tucked in behind her as I didn’t think I had a chance of beating her but as there wasn’t far to go and I still felt good I decided to chance it. Once I was past her I noticed someone else I recognised way ahead of me. With not far to go and a fairly flat last half a mile I thought I should try and catch him. I’ve only ever managed to beat Tom when he fell at Captain Cook’s and it would make my day to manage it today after such a shocking start. However there were still about 6 people between us and a long distance. I started to make ground, passing a couple of people but then he turned and saw me and immediately sped up! I did my best to catch him, passing the remaining 4 or 5 people who separated us and doing my best to sprint the last section back into the village but it was not to be. I did however pick up a prize for third lady and very much enjoyed my cake and tea in the village hall afterwards.

Esk Valley races are always a joy – great atmosphere and for anyone who hasn’t run fell races before they are a perfect introduction. Plus at £5 to enter what’s not to like…

Results

PosNameClubCatCatposTime
1Harry HolmesYork KnavesmireMO175.02
20Helen CrossIndividualFO195.08
26Tom ReevesM50498.21
27Penny BrowellF40198.39
29Shelli GordonNew Marske HarriersFO299.22
43Michael BennettM601105.50
64Nigel Heppells*M605118.08
88Anita ClementsonF454148.38
94Jan YoungF60DNF

93 finishers
*Nigel Heppell. Two Ps Two Ls. And now an extra S as well. You can never have too many Nigels.