Race Reports, October 2016

A journey there and back again.

Jedburgh Three Peaks Ultra Marathon, 29th October

38M / 3000ft

David Brown

The Jedburgh Three Peaks Ultra starts in the shadow of the 12th century abbey, and winds along forest tracks, hillsides, country lanes, and various bridges new and old. The route hugs the River Tweed, passing through St Boswells, Melrose, and passing Rhymer’s Stone. Runners are then faced with three extinct volcanoes known as the Eildon Hills which offer panoramic views of the Scottish Borders. A brief passing through the villages of Bowden and Newton St Boswells, before following the Tweed back to the start / finish.

Eildons

A 04:00 alarm saw me up and ready for 05:00 drive up to Jedburgh, with the tune of Highland Cathedral blasting through my car stereo as I crossed the border, in tribute to my late Grandad Angus. Still dark, I arrived at registration with plenty time to faff around in the car boot and use each of the toilets. It was mild, so I opted for short sleeve, before huddling inside the hall in anticipation for the set off. A quick briefing which suggested runners, "remove headphones when asked, and don't be a dick".

07:45 and we were ushered over to a grassy mound, where the enthusiastic RD’s and a squirrel warmed us up with a YMCA dance routine, runners shuffled their feet feigning any sort of dance, before a countdown, and we were off.

As usual with any long race I was aware of everyone flying off, I was aware not to be hasty, knowing I had up to 8 hours ahead, but still away they sped. Mild concern dragged me with them, but sense prevailed and I knew I’d be seeing a lot of them later.

I was running alone and settled into a gentle pace, it was a beautiful morning, crisp and clear, with fantastic autumnal colours. We were quite packed as we left the road and started onto the single tracks. We passed a newly built bridge after a couple of miles, and I made a note that the next time I crossed the bridge I’d be nearly home.

Running up that Hill.

On we went, open fields allowing the packs to disperse, yet stiles and gates still causing bottlenecks. It wasn’t long before we caught sight of the three peaks of the Eildons, and it was here that the journey there and back again truly started.

I was easing along nicely until Maxton and the cp at 10 miles; this race allows for three drop bags, somewhat excessive maybe for an ultra of this distance, but I thought I’d make use of them nonetheless. I grabbed some peanuts and a snack bar, and topped up with Tailwind, stuffed them in my pack and went on my way.

Before I had chance to eat anything the nausea started, mild panic came over me, I was now only 11 miles in and started to feel sick. I had eaten well all week, my breakfast was as standard to all race days – sweet tea / porridge – so this unsettling feeling came as shock so early on.

Thankfully I had a multipack of Polo’s in my vest pocket, and so popped two into my mouth and let them do their minty thing. Immediate result as the nausea and panic left as quickly as they came.

Onwards, and after 17 miles we arrived at cp2 Rhymer's Stone.

"The Rhymer's Stone marks the spot on which the fabled Eildon Tree once grew. It was under this tree that Thomas the Rhymer took a fateful nap while hunting on the estate of Melrose Abbey. He was awakened by the Queen of Elfland, who he kissed. He then spent seven years with her in the Land of the Elves before returning to his home in Earlston for seven years, then disappearing for good: presumably back to the Land of the Elves."
We were now in the shadow of the Eildons. I was warm, but had kept my short sleeve tee on in case the true Scottish weather presented itself, it did not, and just before the first climb I stopped and removed my shirt, just down to a vest.

Eildon Top

As the first Eildon towered over us, runners, became walkers, bent double; hands on knees, knees on scree. Occasionally pausing in awe at the conical mountain ahead. The track was sloppy, with prints from the lugs of runners sliding in the mud, loose rocks trickled down, and ramblers cheered us on behind the safety of their thermos.

At the first peak we were offered a superb panoramic view of the Scottish borders, and one could not help but smile at the beauty before a technical descent onto the saddle between the first and second Eildon. One or two runners already limping, casualties of the peaks.

The second peak was much the same, Border Search and Rescue Unit sat patiently with their stout dogs; collies that clearly new better than us fools, just waiting to do their jobs. The seriousness of their work apparent as the land rover sat waiting some way up the peaks, of which an unsuspecting number of runners would be treated to a ride in.

Reaching the final peak I realised we were halfway through the adventure; all that was left to do was leave the Eildons unscathed, and begin our journey back again. This filled me with delight, and I was able to play with numbers in my head. I also realised at this point that my target of 8 hours was going to be met as long as I kept moving forward, at reasonable(ish) pace for a further 19 miles.

Where once the field was packed, we were now spread out. As I scrambled down the final descent I began to overtake runners that had flew past me in the first miles. And as much as my pace never quickened, this was to be for the remainder of the race.

I was safely down from the peaks, and started my journey back. I always knew even before the start that once I got to this point I just had a trail race to go, pressure was relieved and I started my solitary venture back. However I was now tired, the Eildons had sapped my legs, and as much as they were still turning, my head wanted a rest, just to lie down in the shadow of the trees amongst the leaves.

I needed a focus, as usual and in times of trouble I don’t always find comfort in the scenery, I needed facts to settle and focus my mind. I decided if I ran to 25 miles, that would give me 13 miles to go, and so from this point I would be able to fathom my ETA.

I’ll point out here (as I can’t recall what happened around this section) that the marshals for this race were the most enthusiastic, friendly, welcoming folk I have ever met, race or otherwise. Every cp I passed through I was made to feel like a Brownlee, the drop bags were handed professionally, and words of encouragement, comfort, and praise were delivered with gusto.

Jed ParkThis race does not come without a sense of humour, as we passed through Bowden around 22 miles in, the markers took us up and over a play park, climbing the frame, over a bridge and down a slide, grown men whooping as they slid on their backsides!

Drop bag collected at the final cp, which was Maxton again at 27 miles, I refilled the Tailwind and took a jam piece from my drop bag, a handful of peanuts and a swig of coke. The cp was filled with supporters, applauding as runners fumbled with their overly packed bags. I was aware of half a dozen runners bent double, either through nausea or cramp. Not me though, ten miles to go and I wanted to go home.

This is where it started to go awry, and the enthusiasm started to be replaced with doubt, not that I wouldn’t finish, but the voices in my head just wanted me to stop. They didn’t understand, they tried in vain to make sense of the numbers but nothing they worked out was reassuring. Ten miles? At this pace we may be talking about another 2 hours on the trails. In future this is where I need to improve.

I was aware of cramping up in previous races, so began a routine of peanuts and Polos. This was a strict procedure that got me through the next 8 miles. I would grab a handful of peanuts from my pack, munch them, swill them, swallow them, then take a Polo. Each pattern got me through one mile.

Six miles to go and I hadn’t seen anyone for 4 miles, I saw a runner up ahead who was cramping as he attempted to haul himself over a stile, a brief greeting and vague words of encouragement were shared before he stepped aside and I past stealthily.

Jed River

Fields, rivers, bridges, forests. All of that happened and it was beautiful, I’m sure it was beautiful as I’d seen it on the way out, it looked different now though. The winding steps, the tree roots, the sound of the river, all started to seem unreal. I started to shout out loud, words not to be repeated.

I past another two runners in the forest, cramp again being the victor as they leaned against trees in attempt to stretch out their demons, an attempt at uttering came out my mouth but we just glanced at each other like forest animals going about their way. No acknowledgement that we were in the same race. Was I even in a race?

Woodland

As we left the forest I encountered life by way of marshals guiding us across the road. Such a welcome sight, and again the enthusiasm wasn’t wearing thin, these Scots must have a brilliant marshal academy somewhere. I was led to a table with refreshments, water, coke, and sweeties. Such a delight as I wasn’t aware of it being here. I was advised two and a half miles to go, and those words were like Christmas morning.

As I left that small humble table on the side of the road, I began my way up the road. I could see two runners as the road stretched, not running now but mimicking extras from The Walking Dead. I caught up with the runners one at a time, both of them glancing over their shoulders as I crept up behind them, at first attempting to run before admitting defeat and letting me past before turning back onto the trails.

Finally the bridge, the very bridge I had seen at the beginning, still there, still standing, what a sight it was. Less than 2 miles to go, and I picked up my pace. I’m not aware of how it happened but suddenly the trail was wide and ran adjacent to the road, I was a solo runner approaching Jedburgh, and the finish. I glanced behind me just in case I was being hunted, once happy I was alone I began my final mile.

As I approached Jedburgh signs and cars built up, folk milled in and out their houses, I caught view of two figures gazing confusingly into my path. My mother and wife, I had estimated to them I would be finished in 8 hours, but the clock was ticking just after 7 hours so they had wandered from the finish to applaud runners, not expecting to see me just yet.

How fantastic to see them, inside I was jumping and throwing my arms around them, but I knew I still had to finish the thing, so I powered on.

The Abbey came into distance, as did the mound on which we started, cow bells and rattles and applause echoed down the road as I ran up the mound, my name was called out to whoops and whistles, up the mound, across the line, medal, goody bag, done. Finished in 7hrs 15, and position 63rd / 193 from 230 starters.

I stumbled around the place, fiddled with my Garmin, found my supporters, and felt overwhelmed at what had happened.

We crossed the road and into the rugby club, I inspected toe nails (two down), and showered, downed the free beer, and slurped the soup. There was a buzz in the hall as runners staggered about the place, some looking fresher than others, wearing their new race tees and hoodies, or slumped still in their race gear, unable to figure out what to do next.

I said it during the race, after the race, and still say it now; this was the greatest race I have ever ran, indeed the weather helped, but everything from the pre-race information, the atmosphere that built on the Facebook page, the route, the goody bag, to the friendliness and enthusiasm of the marshals and runners, it would take a very dreich day to wash away such a positive atmosphere. I cannot praise this race enough, if you’re looking for a braw day on the trails, then I’ll see you in Jedburgh next year!

Where there's muck there's brass

Turnpike Trot 10k, Whitby, 23rd October

Steve Ellis

Set in the tranquil North Yorkshire moors, a mile or two off the main Whitby road this trot was advertised as a 10k (or thereabouts) event organised by the now burgeoning brand that is Hardmoors.

We arrived in plenty of time to get our numbers and ponder the relative merits of various clothing/ footwear combos. Malcolm had chosen his normal minimalist approach as can be seen on the photos! Hardmoors..phaa. I shall bear my chest and stride them tha hills! the rest of us choosing warmer garb. Each to their own . After registration the throng began to move out of the village and up a wooded path to the starting place where the finishing tent was also placed. After the now mandatory health and safety briefing we were off! The "trot" quickly turned into a pell-mell ,helter skelter pelt down a wet and slippery bumpy grassy slope. At the bottom the path became more narrow and muddy and eventually , after crossing a heavily saw dusted wooden bridge and some likewise saw dusted wooden platforms we began the 800 meter or so climb. Now we were back to trotting. The path was very narrow and hidden gullies and pot holes were waiting to catch the unwary. Progress was slow but steady to the top where a sharp left turn took us out onto the now flat moor. The paths were grassy and full of puddles which were circumnavigated by most and gave us the chance to now turn this trot into a run. The river crossing caused a bottleneck as runners found various ways to get across. Scampering down the little ravine most hopped over on the rocks. Some just plodged through....very hardmoors! After this brief hazard we resumed our grassy zig zag puddle avoiding run. At last a sharp downhill stretch loomed into view which was very rocky and very slippery. Not for the feint hearted as a wanton approach here could prove to be painful. At the bottom a sharp left-hand turn and the path began to climb again. It dragged on for a few hundred metres then crested to reveal a long grassy slalom back to the start line. And so the second lap began. We were now joined by the 5k Rabbit runners who had just set off and the trot continued much like the first lap. The moorlands here were reflecting the changeable nature of the weather. As we looked west across the bleak hills they were at once all monochrome greys and next greens and purple as the sun broke through. Wherever you looked the cloud bursts could be seen in the distance and we knew our turn would come! Mercifully short and light downpours.

At the finish a gathering purple phalanx continued to cheer all comers to the finish tent, admirably marshalled by our own Anna Seeley. A special cheer was saved for finishing striders. Once through the tent the chat turned to the rather lovely medal we'd earned. It looked like it was made of brass inviting one particular comment, proving once again the very sage Yorkshire life view, that were there's muck there's brass!

Malcolm was first strider home followed by Vicky. He was still resplendent in vest and shorts and showing true Yorkshire grit. On the way back to the cars I could swear I heard him turn to Katherine and say" eee lass it were greet o'nt top of them hills today tha nos, and me barr tat an all"....well maybe not The general consensus was a good day all round and to cap it off on the way home the rain really started . Sometimes our timing is just right..

Group Photo

FALLING FOR THE FELLS ?

The Natural Ability Fell Race, Allenheads, 16th October

AS / 6.2m / 1148ft

Steve Ellis

Natural Ability.At my age I should know better! Well perhaps that's true but new challenges and experiences are always attractive. This was to be a first Fell race for both myself and Mark (Payne). I had read that this race was suitable for inexperienced and experienced fell runners alike, requiring no special equipment, and this had persuaded us to give it a go. Also it was cheap (£9) and set in a beautiful part of the country, the North Pennines. Camilla was initially to be the designated driver but had to pull out at the eleventh hour with a cold and fortunately Diane(Watson) was able to step in as we negotiated our way along the Wear valley to Allenheads.

The forecast was bleak with rain due at 11am exactly matching the race start time! Still these things are seldom accurate and anyway with our gung-ho attitude proudly pinned to our purple attire we arrived in good time. Parking was easy and we picked up our numbers. The temperature had plummeted and showed 6 degrees on the cars display. We also noted how the wind had picked up and was blowing the tree tops. Discussions now concentrated on what to wear! Mark and Diane chose to wear tights and jackets. I had no such choice as I had only come with shorts, a decision I came to regret and my jacket is only shower-proof...in other words porous! Diane again came to the rescue lending me a suitable jacket.

After a warm up run we assembled for the start at about 10;50 and right on-cue the rain announced its arrival. Ironically the guest race starter was ex-BBC weather lady Hannah Bayman! So at 11 exactly, we set off. The first 4k took us along the valley tracks, lanes and bumpy fields until we reached the river itself. So far it had been "undulating" a word often used and greatly misunderstood by runners! In this race it had been mainly flat with a few inclines and stiles to negotiate. However things were now to change dramatically!

At about 4k we had to cross the river. It was about 8 inches deep and freezing cold. If your feet weren't wet so far they would be now. Then up a steep road section which led to us crossing another road and out onto the Fells. Ohh the glorious sight of a 1 kilometre hill now stretched out before us and into the teeth of a gathering gale! Most runners had now slowed to a walk as they battled against the elements and the force of gravity. I tried to jog- walk my way to the top but it was very hard going. The heavy rain was now machine-gunning into my face and pinging my legs.(is this putting you off I wonder?) However the thoughts you hang on to drive you forward. For example.." come on now, we are over half way and its only a cross-country distance and we are nearly at the highest point!! " etc....well...I bet you talk to yourself too! And so I crested the hill and alighted onto another rough puddled track and the battle with the wind really began! It felt like someone was pushing you backwards at times as it reached 40mph. It was also at this time I noticed how cold my legs were! I guess they were moving by default and driven by idiocy! Still the stoic runner battled forward and soon reached the very top of the course and began the long descent for the finish.

As I gathered pace my legs warmed up and all was well and positive. The idea of this being a race amused me a little as thus far I had only passed people who were walking or standing still! Just then a lady from North Shields Poly breezed past me and soon was 50 or so metres ahead. What! I can't have that! As we reached the road at the bottom of the hill I tried to keep her in sight and crossing the road we descended on to the bumpy fields and stiles again (remember those?). I now noticed that I was gaining a little on her as she seemed less happy on this surface. Detecting this chink I her armour I got to within 10 metres of her as we ran down the final bit of tarmac and onto the final field. We could now see the finish in the far corner and battle commenced. I bound past her and finished a couple of seconds ahead. So much for it not being a race! Just as in harrier league fixtures the race is what you make of it.

As I finished a small reception committee greeted you with "well dones" and pats on the back as well as a goody bag, water and a sponsors t-shirt. Amazing for such a cheap race and even more generous when you realise the race is named after the wonderful charity it is organised by and for. The Natural Ability fell race supports adults with special needs in enriching their lives. Wonderful! And the marshals. My goodness what a task on such a day! The whole race experience was fantastic, and put my bit of whining to shame!

After trudging back to the car to change ( Mark and Diane found much more suitable places) we reconvened in the Allenheads Hotel bar for the prizes and a welcome sandwich soup and coffee. Perhaps none of us had troubled the prize givers but we had won in so many other ways. I personally found the challenge tough but it didn't defeat me and I would certainly go back! Next time fully equipped for all eventualities. Don't second guess the fells and the weather!

So far this year I have been chasing the clock in my attempts to post PBs and tick off targets and I was a little bored with it all if I am truthful. One of the reasons I fancied this race was to get away from all that and discover new challenges. I can honestly say I did not check my time once until well after I had finished. In some ways it is an irrelevance as the real challenge is the course, the elements and occasionally the chance to chase down a shirt!

The real winners anyway were the organisers and marshalls and of course the charity. Finally, as always the company and chat on the day with fellow Striders is always a pleasure and this was no different, so thanks to Mark and especially Diane who drove us there and back.. my turn to drive next time...now I wonder where that will be?

Palma de Mallorca Marathon, 16th October

Dougie Nisbet

The sun has most definitely got his hat on.The weather forecast was for a sunny 25C with no breeze and I was fine with that. Well, more sort of horribly fascinated. I struggle in hot races and ever since London, where I’d been well prepared and trained, I’ve been exasperated by my inability to deal with hot weather. I wasn’t expecting a fast time today but I was hoping to finish feeling in control and not vowing never to run a marathon again.

It was also my first big overseas race. Something I’ve always fancied and I think I chose well. There were 48 nationalities which handily meant that English was the unofficial lingua franca. We started at 9am sharp and headed west along the seafront. I knew it was race to be run with the head, not the heart, and I settled into a steady pace. The breakfast run on Friday morning had been useful in finding out how I dealt with the heat and I realised, somewhat to my disappointment, I would be wise to stick to 6:15min/km and see how it went. (A 4 hour marathon is 5:41min/km). The first 10km are an out and back turning at the naval port and it was a little congested towards the turn, probably because the first lap of the marathon is shared with the half marathon.

I was slower than I wanted to be but in control and comfortable. Back past the cathedral then into the old town. This was just amazing and shows how a city can embrace its marathon (are you listening Edinburgh?). The marathon route unashamedly blasted past the front door of the cathedral, and probably the side door and back door too. Then up and down so many narrow alleyways that I was completely disoriented. But life and business went on as usual. Waiters paused at cafe doors before nimbly stepping through the race to look after customers on the terraces, and if ever there was a choice of going round an obstacle or straight through the middle – the direct route usually won. Any second now I half expected James Bond to burst out of a side alley in the middle of a high speed car chase.

Through the middle of a major shopping centre and suddenly it’s the Tour de France. Policemen blasting on whistles and waving the crowds back who were either surging forward because they were watching the race, or drifting onto the course because they were on their way to lunch. It was fantastic fun. Roberta was trying to track my progress from my smartphone but it was doubtful whether it was helping much. In the end she settled for drinking coffee and walking the few yards to the race route when she thought there was a chance I’d be showing up again.

I’d lifted my pace a bit in the erratically shaded alleys and soon we were back down to the seafront to start the second lap. If I was going to run a negative split, then this was about time to begin splitting my negatives. Along the coast road for the second time and I was feeling pretty good. Always mindful of the heat I was micro-calibrating my speed more on perceived exertion and comfort rather than too much attention to the Garmin. Things were going well until about 22km, and then suddenly they weren’t going quite so well. I had half-expected it but was still disappointed. I’d trained well for this race but racing is always full of surprises and I knew that I might have problems. But I’ve learned a lot from London, and many other hot races, and I knew the trick was to stay in control of the race, not the other way round.

I dropped my pace until I felt comfortable, then simply micro-adjusted my pace until I wasn’t so comfortable, then back down again. We’ve all done it. Eventually the relentless heat of the seafront gave way to the old town again and it was great to get into the shade. I was irritated to be feeling so stuffed as I’d really enjoyed this bit of the race first time round and wanted to enjoy it again! Still, I was still in control of the race and steadily passed walkers and much slower runners as I maintained a reasonable running form but at a maintainable pace. I did some tactical walking at aid stations and on the hills (that I hadn’t noticed on the first lap) and so never really slammed in the wall as I have done in previous marathons.

The last 2km run in to the finish were a gentle downhill straight through the cafes and main shopping street which were all open of course, it’s just the roads that were closed. There were a couple of “C’mon Striders” and “Well done Elvet” that were uncannily reminiscent of the Harrier League, right down to the accents, although “Go UK!” was a new one for me (your national flag is shown on your bib).

I was a bit disappointed to finish in 4:30 but was pretty happy that I’d run the race about right; tactically and responding to the conditions so that I had pace and form to the end. As my first experience of an overseas race I have to say it was an absolute blast. The carefully balanced chaos of running through the old town like a street mob and the carnival atmosphere surround the event were wonderful. There really isn’t anything about the race I didn’t like.

Dougie and Roberta being photobombed by a sodding big cathedral.

Amsterdam Half Marathon, 16th October

Jonathan Hamill

French InspirationAmsterdam plays host to a number of running events over one weekend, including a Half Marathon, and Marathon. I selected the Half Marathon, and lured by the lack of hills, attended with the purpose of securing a PB, aiming for a time of 1:55.

This is an event for those who appreciate slick organisation. At the Sporthallen Zuid, number and t-shirt (for those who pre-ordered one) collection was effortless. The expo was in full swing on the Saturday afternoon, with the usual vendors poised to equip competitors with every conceivable bit of running garb, and equipment.

Having been before, I knew of a small, highly popular pasta place (Hasta la Pasta) in the Centrum, which was my dining venue. Fortunately, for the restaurateur a stream of hungry runners from various countries had the same idea. Carbed-up, I turned in for the night.

Contrary to other races where public transport systems struggle with the volume of competitors, and spectators, I navigated the Metro with ease, to the Sporthallen Zuid again, where a simple to use, and efficient bag drop was in operation. I walked to the start on Stadioweg (adjacent to the Olympisch Stadion), where enclosures were marshalled by friendly local volunteers, who seemed startled when I enquired about the best time to enter the pen. Their advice was to enjoy the sun, and come back 5 minutes before the wave was due to start! Local shops were open to provide last minute refreshments, and there were toilets aplenty. Adjacent to the start is the final half kilometer, and with the marathon underway, I got to see some of the elite runners charge for the line.

I entered the yellow pen, with a little more time to spare than that advised, and having warmed up (yep - getting in a little earlier meant you could run up and down the enclosure!), I chatted to some French runners from Ville D'Allonnes, who were tickled at us sharing the same club colours (their preference for a diagonal white & green stripe being the only difference). At the appointed time, we moved forward towards the starting arch and sensor. I struck out at around 8½ minute miles, and paid attention to avoid tripping on tram lines (I learned this lesson the hard way during a previous visit!). I lost count of the large number of mobile discos along the route - there were plenty! Similar to the Great North Run, there were also steel, and brass bands aplenty (but no Elvis!), and the residential areas were well populated with supporters, adding to the atmosphere. Water and refreshment stations were in abundance (at 5, 9, 11, 13, 16, and 19km) - Isostar featuring heavily as sponsor, with their energy boosting drinks and gels, and sponges too - I must have run over a few thousand!

The course is a mix of residential and industrial neighbourhoods. The Utrechtse Bridge takes you over the Amstel river (at which point the route is shared with the full Marathon), and passes the famous Rijksmuseum, before entering the large expanse of the Vondelpark (Amsterdam's largest public park). With my race plan intact, I exited the top gate of the Vondelpark, adjacent to the All4running store (the enthusiastic team there had looked after me during my last visit, on Global Running Day). I knew I had a fairly straight stretch and concentrated on holding my pace, hoping to leave something for the last km, and the finish in the Olympic Stadium.

Aided by the crowd factor, I picked up my pace, ran into the Stadium, and round the track to cross the finish line - a quick Garmin check confirming I'd secured my PB!

Walking out of the Stadium, I collected my refreshments, stopped at a couple of the free photo points, and then onto the medal engraving tent - my medal being engraved with my name and time, in under 5 minutes! A brief stop at the bag drop, then to rehydrate (when in Holland it really has to be Heineken!) and I was off for a brief but slow jog to the metro. I called via the hotel to collect my main bag, and headed straight to the airport, the lure of a hot shower and dinner calling.

Other sports drinks are available. First male strider home (you have to take these opportunities when you can), I finished with a time of 1:53:15, ahead of my 1:55 target.

Top tips

Grand Prix Race. Mud King/Mud Queen Race.

Harrier League, Druridge Bay, 9th October

photo by Sarah Davies Photo by Satch Millen.

Results

men
position bib name cat pack race time actual time
1 331 Justina Heslop (Elswick Harriers) FV35 S 22:40 22:40
43 537 Michael Mason MV40 M 39:02 36:32
67 520 James Garland MV40 S 39:34 39:34
70 507 David Gibson MV45 S 39:43 39:43
80 556 Stephen Jackson Msen F 39:52 34:52
89 521 Jason Harding MV45 M 40:08 37:38
127 533 Matt Claydon MV40 S 40:46 40:46
156 563 Tom Reeves MV50 S 41:09 41:09
192 525 Jon Ayres MV40 S 41:33 41:33
224 560 Stuart Scott MV35 S 41:58 41:58
231 501 Dave Halligan MV50 S 42:05 42:05
248 519 Jack Lee Msen M 42:16 39:46
273 543 Paul Swinburne MV40 S 42:47 42:47
346 522 Jerry Lloyd MV45 M 44:23 41:53
360 535 Michael Hughes MV45 S 44:44 44:44
413 491 Alex Witty MV35 S 46:26 46:26
423 508 David Hinton Msen S 46:41 46:41
424 549 Richard Hockin MV60 S 46:46 46:46
433 531 Mark Payne MV35 S 46:58 46:58
493 561 Tim Matthews MV50 S 49:08 49:08
547 555 Stephen Ellis MV60 S 52:41 52:41
548 490 Alex Collins MV35 S 52:42 52:42
573 559 Steven Comby Msen S 59:11 59:11

331 finishers.

women
position bib name cat pack race time actual time
1 694 Stephanie Dann (North Shields Poly) FV40 S 26:42 26:42
22 417 Penny Browell FV40 M 29:43 28:03
63 428 Stephanie Piper Fsen S 30:49 30:49
65 432 Tasmin Imber FV40 M 30:51 29:11
71 419 Rachelle Mason FV35 S 30:58 30:58
93 433 Victoria Brown FV35 S 31:29 31:29
107 380 Helen Tones FV40 M 31:41 30:01
111 431 Susan Davis FV55 S 31:47 31:47
132 374 Fiona Jones FV35 S 32:10 32:10
141 391 Juliet Percival FV40 M 32:23 30:43
171 418 Rachael Bullock Fsen M 33:06 31:26
179 425 Sarah Davies FV45 M 33:11 31:31
185 1123 Nikki Malia FV40 S 33:15 33:15
208 379 Helen Thomas FV40 S 33:45 33:45
209 369 Diane Harold FV40 S 33:47 33:47
266 415 Nina Mason FV40 S 35:11 35:11
282 352 Anna Seeley Fsen S 35:44 35:44
288 382 Jan Young FV60 S 36:00 36:00
307 376 Fiona Wood FV35 S 36:34 36:34
313 359 Catherine Smith FV40 S 36:48 36:48
322 389 Joanne Porter FV45 S 37:26 37:26
352 348 Aileen Scott FV45 S 39:34 39:34
369 390 Joanne Richardson FV40 S 41:31 41:31

405 finishers.

Lincoln Half Marathon, 2nd October

Becca Gilmore

I spy a medal ... so I guess this was taken AFTER the race!Alcohol is a funny thing. It makes you do things that at any other time you would think to be somewhat foolish or unwise. And that is how I found myself on the start line of Lincoln Half Marathon; a decision made during a girls weekend under the influence of cocktails that tasted like chocolate milkshake. Having only completed my first half marathon 3 weeks previously, and carrying more injuries than the England football team, even to me this seemed like it could be an error of judgement. However, there was a greater purpose to this run than just getting myself over the finish line. In my year and a bit of running with Striders, I have been overwhelmed by how supportive both club mates and the wider running community have been. There are people without whom I would have failed to finish events, or not even signed up at all. So this race was payback time - it was my turn to help my friend Sara (Witham Runners) finish her first half marathon.

So bright and early we arrived at Lincolnshire Showground to be met by an event village with everything you could want - including a local running shop for any last minute emergency kit, a plethora of catering outlets, and impressively a posh coffee vendor! Supping our lattes and taking in the atmosphere, we realised that this event was going to be bigger than we anticipated. It was the first half marathon held in Lincoln for 25 years and given the amount of participants, spot on organisation and massive public support en route, I suspect it may not be the last.

As the waves of runners were called to the start line, we positioned ourselves a little way behind the 2:30 pacer and I reminded Sara of the golden rule - "don't go off too fast!" The gun was fired and, 5 minutes later, we eventually crossed the start line. People were passing us left right and centre, but we were sticking to the plan of 11.30 to 12.30 minute miles. The first 5 miles were nice and steady along relatively flat, pretty country roads and in to the outskirts of Lincoln city centre where crowds of supporters were already present in abundance. Reaching the centre itself, along the small streets of boutique shops, we arrived at Lincoln Cathedral at 5.5 miles. Cue a game of "my cathedral is better than your cathedral", to which I did somewhat relent as we ran through the beautiful expanse of gardens and stone arches. One thing we did agree on however - cobbles are a pain to run on! From here we ran downhill (similar length and gradient to Potter's Bank) to the riverside, passing diners enjoying an al fresco Sunday brunch, and again a healthy amount of supporters. Over to the other side of the bridge and around the university campus, which was probably the least inspiring section of the course but gave us opportunity to have a few gummy bears and a bit banter with our fellow runners. Back over the river at the 7.5 mile point, ready for the return leg to the showground, and it dawns that we now have to run back up that hill, except this time it is longer due to the route. One mile, 200 feet of elevation, and one acapella rendition of "Hakuna Matata" later and we were at the top of Yarborough Road, probably with many folks thinking I'm a bit mad. Steady going for the next mile to recover then started increasing the pace steadily.

At this point Sara was beginning to struggle - we were well in to distance PB territory for her, the long hill had taken its toll on her legs and the proverbial wall was hit. This is why I was here though, and I'd be damned if we were going to drop off target after the hard work was done. This is when I drew on everything that I'd experienced from Striders. We ran for almost half a mile holding hands, distracted with talk of wedding planning and summer holidays. When that wasn't working we did relaxation and breathing control techniques. We were passing runners ahead of us at an incredible rate - probably around 30 people from mile 11 onwards, and used this to reinforce just how excellent Sara was doing, and how sticking to the pacing plan was paying dividends. Mile 12 assurances of "not far now", and "it's just around the corner" were stretching the truth a little, but got us over the field and in to the showground again. 200 metres to go and a burst of expletive ridden declarations of how we've got this and gearing up for a final push. 100 metres and the crowds cheering us in. 50 metres and I'm practically screaming "come on it's there" before grabbing her hand and dragging Sara level with me to run in the final section and cross the line together.

There were hugs all round, and maybe a tear or two fell. Goal achieved; Sara completing her first half marathon. And I experienced running an event from a completely different viewpoint. This was not about my time or my achievement. I was there to support someone else, to get them through the race, to help them reach their goal. Comparing this to my previous half marathon I didn't feel the pre-race doubts, the aching legs at mile 10, or the post-race come down. Maybe it was sticking to the pacing plan, or better in-race hydration and fuelling. Or maybe, for me, this is what running is all about?

Becca and Sara

Grand Prix Race. Mud King/Mud Queen Race.

Harrier League, Wrekenton, 1st October

Handy Mandy Saves the Day!

Mudman

Conrad shows how to play it cool. The new x/c season kicked off this year at Wrekenton with both Strider teams competing in their respective First Divisions. With a myriad of other distractions this weekend today was always going to be difficult for Striders’ x/c faithful. Nonetheless, some magnificent performances throughout the field, not least by the evergreen Mandy Dawson, saw the teams steer clear of their dreaded ‘drop zones’. Striders women finished 8th from 10 on the day while the men finished 7th from 10.

No less than 48 Striders gathered beneath the purple banner to resume, or begin, their love affair with cross country racing. Veterans of many previous campaigns, such as Roz, Jan Y & Conrad, were there rubbing shoulders with newcomers like Andrew Davies, Phil Ray, Kirsten Fenwick, Diane Harold and Faye Bell and trying to calm pre-race nerves. The weather was very ‘un-cross country like’ with sunny skies, mild temperatures, a gentle breeze – and a bone hard course! A perfect day to make one’s x/c debut.

Mandy back in great form. The women were first up and, after a disturbing absence of any of the ‘Sea of Purple’ with their toes on the start line, Mandy was first to the fore with a quick start from the slow pack melee. Rachelle and Lesley followed with Mudwomen herself keeping in close contact. But as always Striders were conspicuous throughout the 350 strong field where no less than 41 other clubs were represented. It was great to see come backs from Nina & Sue, gratifying that Camilla preferred her running to be ‘alcohol free’ and gladdening to see no less than 27 Striders giving their all for the greater glory of their club. Fresh faces and familiar faces were cheered to the echo by their club mates some of whom, like Simon, Karen, Phil and Mark, had come along just to watch.

The welcome return of Nina - a more vocal supporter you'd be hard to find! Mandy maintained her ‘lead’ to be first Strider home, & gaining promotion to the medium pack (again), while on the second lap Mudwoman came through strongly to pip Lesley while being closely pursued by Tamsin running from the medium pack. But there were some great performances throughout the field including Jean (2nd in age group), Jan Y (3rd in age group) and Roz (4th in age group)! Some great sprints for the line too – Jill and others. Well done everyone – particularly the debutants – x/c can be a ‘savage arena’ even for us ‘old lags’ and you may feel more exposed than in say a road race, but the rewards and sense of achievement are fantastic! Let those endorphins flow!

And so to the men’s race. The final event of the afternoon and a field of 532 competitors or 1,064 elbows! Striders’ first run out in the top division for more than 20 years – bring it on! A crowded start from the slow pack and a bottle neck at the first incline showed how important it is to find a position near the front of the field if such situations are to be avoided. No such problems for James Garland who had one of his best races of recent years and sped off to head the slow pack Striders. Michael and James. Only two of the clubs best athletes managed to overhaul James – Michael Mason first Strider home running from the medium pack and Stephen Jackson second Strider running from the fast pack. Incredible performances! James was followed in by debutant Phil Ray – rewarded by a strong performance in a tough race – then Jason flying through from the medium pack and Matt Claydon making a very welcome return to x/c. These guys were backed up by a further 15 Striders all of whom gave their all including Danny Lim (travelling up from Teesside), Daniel Mitchel (in his second season for Striders), veteran Richard Hockin with hair flying in the wind and webmaster Dougie just making it the start line after a very thorough warm up!

Well done to you all! We held our own first time out in the top flight so there’s much to be pleased about. But make no mistake we’re going to need a battalion of purple clad reinforcements if we’re going to hold out against the top clubs in the region. I know we can do it – so come on, let’s get cracking!

Results

men
position bib name cat pack race time actual time
1 407 James Askew (DCH) Msen S 31:34 31:34
55 537 Michael Mason MV40 M 37:00 34:30
77 556 Stephen Jackson Msen F 37:33 32:33
90 520 James Garland MV40 S 37:50 37:50
107 546 Phil Ray MV35 S 38:11 38:11
116 521 Jason Harding MV45 M 38:18 35:48
144 533 Matt Claydon MV40 S 38:47 38:47
149 507 David Gibson MV45 S 38:53 38:53
211 505 David Brown MV35 S 39:54 39:54
236 515 Geoff Davis MV55 S 40:22 40:22
255 500 Danny Lim MV35 S 40:40 40:40
260 501 Dave Halligan MV50 S 40:47 40:47
315 535 Michael Hughes MV45 S 42:31 42:31
318 499 Daniel Mitchel MV35 S 42:34 42:34
324 487 Aaron Gourley MV35 S 42:49 42:49
354 497 Conrad White MV55 S 43:35 43:35
394 549 Richard Hockin MV60 S 44:34 44:34
447 498 Craig Walker MV55 S 46:57 46:57
472 510 Dougie Nisbet MV50 S 48:29 48:29
478 504 David Browbank MV35 S 48:58 48:58
492 492 Andrew Davies MV40 S 49:51 49:51
498 555 Stephen Ellis MV60 S 50:51 50:51

532 finishers.

women
position bib name cat pack race time actual time
1 71 Chloe Price (Birtley AC) Fsen S 24:09 24:09
27 413 Mandy Dawson FV45 S 28:06 28:06
87 431 Susan Davis FV55 S 29:48 29:48
88 407 Lesley Charman FV40 S 29:49 29:49
92 432 Tamsin Imber FV40 M 29:53 27:53
103 411 Louise Warner FV35 M 30:08 28:08
106 419 Rachelle Mason FV35 S 30:10 30:10
128 433 Victoria Brown FV35 S 30:40 30:40
139 379 Helen Thomas FV40 S 30:56 30:56
166 425 Sarah Davies FV45 M 31:30 29:30
172 383 Jean Bradley FV60 S 31:37 31:37
183 369 Diane Harold FV40 S 31:56 31:56
185 356 Camilla Lauren-Maatta FV50 S 32:00 32:00
207 423 Roz Layton FV60 S 32:46 32:46
223 382 Jan Young FV60 S 33:15 33:15
228 385 Jill Rudkin FV40 S 33:25 33:25
229 427 Stef Barlow FV40 S 33:25 33:25
239 415 Nina Mason FV40 S 33:37 33:37
243 351 Anja Fechtner FV35 S 33:40 33:40
293 381 Jan Ellis FV50 S 36:12 36:12
301 403 Kirsten Fenwick Fsen S 36:41 36:41
306 422 Rebecca Talbot FV35 S 36:52 36:52
309 434 Victoria Jackson FV35 S 37:03 37:03
315 360 Catherine Walker FV55 S 37:40 37:40
316 348 Aileen Scott FV45 S 37:49 37:49
321 430 Sue Jennings FV50 S 38:22 38:22
329 421 Rebecca Dodd Fsen S 39:46 39:46
339 402 Kerry Barnett FV40 S 42:20 42:20
343 373 Faye Bell FV35 S 43:48 43:48

352 finishers.