Race Reports, September 2016

Dales Trail Series - DT40, Semer Water, Wensleydale, North Yorkshire, 24th September

40km

Jon Ayres

For what we are about to receive ...
I’m currently feeling pretty miserable my pace has dropped to nothing but a shuffle, the pain killers I took earlier clearly aren’t working, pre-cramp pains are shooting up my legs, I’m aware of another club member who’s hauling me in and it’s only mile 10 of 26. Other than that everything else is just peachy.

Around 90 minutes ago I’d been catching up with old friends, sorting out my kit and laughing about the race to come-now the humour is definitely black. The initial climb away from the lake had seem OK I’d followed my stride/run plan and seemed to be toward the front of the pack, I’ve surprised myself by managing to not lose too much ground on a sharp though not too technical drop, kept my head down as we passed a field of killer cows but that all feels like a long time ago. A couple more people go past and even though we’re running(well they are) along a river the terrain feels harder than a flat run should.

A mile and a bit later and a feed station is visited, sausage rolls, cake and other goodies tempt me to sit down and forget the run while I’ve never had DNF against my name before a picnic here in a pretty corner, feasting on the goodies seems very tempting. So what to do, after all there’s a climb here and it’ll go on for nearly the next nine miles across bog, track and tarmac.

I remind myself that only a few months ago I had a good day out in similar conditions, think of the embarrassment of having to explain a “Gave up” to the likes of Geoff and Sue, never mind Mike Hughes who ran much tougher terrain for nearly a full day non stop, cast a thought to the deserved repeated ribbing I’d get from friends and resolve the pain is frankly a much better option.

Digging in now becomes the goal, set bitesize goals for the next few limes and perhaps most importantly stop feeling so very sorry for myself. I’m doing something I love, really love and I’m lucky to do so. So get on with enjoying the scenery, think about climbing a hill or two, see if there’s places to be gained and grab a sausage roll from the feed station too.

The road now is roller coaster flat and while we’re no doubt climbing overall the odd relief of a slight drop is welcome, then a run through a farmyard and the conditions under foot are heavy and boggy, walls with slight gaps need squeezing through, stiles are to be climbed and gates opened and slammed shut. We’re really climbing now too heading up to I don’t know where, thankfully the trail is really well marked so I don’t have to concentrate to much on where I’m going, though the sight of a Purple vest in the distance has focused my thinking.

The bog gives way to a trail which has us heading further away from the finish point and I’m now chatting with the other strider about how much of a day this is then a beep from my Garmin and we’ve only, only! 10 miles to go. I cast memory back to runs of that distance that I’ve completed and enjoyed and imagine them transposed onto today's route.

Tarmac now and the soft padding of shoes set a rhythm , my fellow strider and I catch a couple of vests and, hey, things are looking up it’s still hard work and a shift definitely needs putting in but surely somewhere around here is the summit. Another well stocked feed station I grab a handful of jelly babies, fill my drinks bottle and keep on keeping on, the road is definitely starting to get easier and I get into a tussle with another runner we pass each other repeatedly with victory to the striders gained just before the summit.

The start and finish of Semer Water comes into sight, though the marshals point us away, they’re all smiling or is that smirking, nah they’ve been pleasant and cheerful all the way round it must be the former-I think. From a mental point of view things seem a bit easier it’s a soft grassy trail heading slightly down now and it’s bliss, I keep a steady pace and wonder how far behind the others are with emphasis on the Strider I’ve been running with, I’m not sure I can hold them off but I’ll think about that when I have to.

I catch a couple more vests as we hit the final short and sharp climb, didn’t enjoy that at all, only a couple of miles now dig in and get it finished.

And then Semer Water comes into view and this time I’m heading toward it, I’m a long way above it so it’s a trot home surely, only now I’m being chased and I’m hopeless at descending I know who’s trying to catch me and they’re like a bloody goat, mutter, curse and run. Head down, legs turning, keep running.

I get caught on the final descent but it’s friendly enough and we cheer each other on. A final easy path through woodland and onto the finish, just outside my ideal time but given my complacency prior to this race I deserve nothing more.

One down, 99 to go.Jason Harding and Steph Piper have made their debut at getting around a course of 26.2 miles and both are smiling at the end, Jason bags a top 10 finish to boot and there can be no doubt he gave 110%. Elaine Bisson finishes second lady in the series and having got round with hamstring issues deserves all the prizes won, while Tamsin Imber continues her stellar year of improvement and is amongst the sharp end of her peers.

The course is perhaps not as scenic as the others in the series but it’s been fun, kind of and I felt like I enjoyed it. The endless supply of soup, cake and proper (Yorkshire) tea are welcome and make it all worthwhile. The conversation now turns to next year this is a series that many will repeat and I fully intend to be amongst that number.

Vale of York Half Marathon, 11th September

Becca Gilmore

Becca and DebraBleary eyed, wracked with nerves I awoke on Sunday morning “ready” for my first half marathon. But while most of the running community were heading further north, a small, intrepid group of striders were journeying south to the welcoming sounding Sherburn-in-Elmet Aero Club in North Yorkshire. The local Air Cadets were on hand to direct parking and point us towards the registration area, even handing out safety pins readily grouped in to sets of 4 - now there’s organisation!. An efficient bag drop system, and a short queue for the porta-loo’s portable toilets (which by all accounts isn’t the case for a certain other half marathon!) and we were ready to run. A tannoy announcement informed us that the start would be delayed for 10-15 minutes due to traffic on the incoming road, which we were to be running along shortly. Not to worry – time for a few team photos and words of advice from Strider support crew. Mr Tannoy-Man informs us that we’re almost ready and to proceed to the start line. And we’re off…..

The first mile was mostly completed within the air field, going up then doubling back along one of the runways. While a little uninspiring, there was plenty of space, nobody was hemmed in and I comfortably found my pace. Turning right out of the access road, we moved out on the closed roads of the North Yorkshire countryside….. and it was beautiful. Open fields dotted with lovely cottage houses, many of whose residents popped out to cheer and wave, followed by much appreciated cover from woodland surrounds at mile 3. Then it was back out to open field views, at which point the fast runners were making their way back in on the “lolly-pop” style course. Shout outs were given to Phil, Stephen and Tamsin passing through at impressive speed.

On-going at my less speedy pace, I continued to admire the lovely views, enjoying going through a lovely hamlet at around mile 7, receiving the cheers from a family making an occasion out of the day with picnic chairs and a tea urn in the front garden. Mile 9 marked a distance PB for me, which was suitably celebrated with my running partner Debra, and mile 10 instigated the “it’s only a parkrun left” mentality. Running back through the tree sheltered area gave a great boost, knowing that it wouldn’t be too long until the aero-club would be in sight. Another mile or so and we were starting to see planes overhead coming in to land, and then the turn off from the main road came. It was still a little way to go – just shy of a mile, but the buildings were in sight, and as we got closer I could just about hear Mr Tannoy-Man again.

Coming off the road and on to a path, we managed to pass a few runners, and then heard the shouts from Strider support “just round the corner”. A cheeky push to the finish from us both, crossing the line together – as if we would do anything else after 13.1 miles. A big hug with Debra. It was done. My first half marathon.

The Finish

You couldn’t shift the grin on my face as I collected my goody bag, practically inhaling a chocolate bar and put on that medal. The grin was even bigger as I discovered the Aero-Club bar were doing Sunday Carvery! Then a brew and bacon roll with the remaining strider gang before heading off home…… with heavy legs, a toe blister, and cheeks that hurt from smiling so much.

See you next year Vale of York!

Great North Run, 11th September

Aaron Gourley

By chance I happened to be checking my emails one afternoon when one popped up from Jacquie Robson that there might be places available to club members for the Great North Run on a first come first served basis. A very quick reply and I was in.

This would be my first road half marathon since the last time I ran it in 2012 so I was hoping for some sort of improvement. I put a lot of focus into speed training, turning up for Alan’s track sessions when I could but also needed to keep my weekly mileage as high as possible as I would be running the Hardmoors 60 a week after the GNR.

On race day I travelled up to Newcastle with my brother, who’d done all of a bout 5 training runs ahead of this. He was looking to just get from Newcastle to South Shields without being sick. Although there was never any danger of him beating me, I still wanted to put in a good performance over him (brotherly love and all that!).

As we travelled on the Metro to the start I explained the nuances of the course and how he should attack it - don’t charge off like a madman at the start being the main focus of my advice.

Having explained this tactic to my brother, it was down to me to take my own advice, and as the start approached it was hard not to get caught up in the atmosphere. Love it or hate it, there is a really special atmosphere generated at this race.

Once the race started I had no trouble staying at a steady pace, but found it difficult to not weave in and out of people so on occasions I found myself running at a slower pace than I would have liked. But I wasn’t worried about this, I was moving along comfortably and passing over the Tyne Bridge is always a highlight.

Then it was the tough part in my eyes - the climb up the A184 to Heworth and White Mare Pool. This takes me past my office so I know it well. I kept a steady pace and tried not to stumble on people ahead.

As I approached the halfway mark I was still running slightly slower than I would have like but still at a good pace and feeling really comfortable.

As the race progressed towards South Shields it was good to get the support of the crowds and hear the various bands playing.

Miles 10 to 12 are always tough with the steady climb towards the coast, and as I approached the top of the hill just before the roundabout I was greeted with cheers from the Waltons. They gave me a much needed boost but Graham’s shout of "Paul (Swinburne) is just ahead" gave me an incentive to push on.

As I looked up I could see Paul around 200/300 meters ahead so it was my challenge to try and wheel him in before the end. With my mind focused I hit the final mile along the coast feeling exhausted but determined to finish strongly.

The crowds are brilliant along this stretch and really help to push you on. I managed to overhaul Paul and finished with a time of 1:36:54, a good 6 minute improvement on my last outing. It wasn’t quite the 1:35 that I’d have liked but never the less I was happy and with the Hardmoors 60 the following week on my mind, I didn’t go flat out to get it.

After congratulating Paul and letting him know how he’d helped me in the final mile (he gave some excuse about cycling 60 miles the previous day!) I went of to find my wife and daughter and then waited to see if my brother would make it in. I finally spotted him at the 12 mile mark, red faced but looking focused to finish in 2hrs20mins. Not bad for a fat lad (his words).