Tag Archives: Gareth Pritchard

Northern Athletics 6 stage Road Relay Championships, Sport City, Manchester, Saturday, September 16, 2017

6.5k legs

3 years ago I struggled to get a team together for this relay, 4 lonely excited Striders competed that day and I’ve been struggling ever since to get us back. This time it was different.  With a 50/50 split between old and new Striders in the team, we headed down to Manchester and into the unknown for all but myself.

The excitement was in the air as we walked over the bridge Towards the Etihad Stadium and sport city complex.  Some incredible fast youngsters flew past us on the way to registration as they raced round on their relay leg. This set the tone of a truly top end competition and a sense of home coming for myself.

Sport city was developed for the 2002 commonwealth games, the facilities are incredible. Registration was inside the main building leading to the outdoor track, job done and I was face to face with something completely new to me. A 200m indoor running track, looking round at the excited Strider faces next to me we all had the same thought, wow this is amazing.

The 200m indoor track is the warm-up area and a truly odd experience to run round. The curves are banked inwards and you are chucked round the bends as you tick off the laps. Must be an awesome experience racing on one of these and something I dream of experiencing one day. Made me chuckle as we all gave it a go, some loved it and other soon drifted to the flat route round the bottom as they felt sick due to the camber. (Chris Callan looked sea sick 😜)

We found our base station round the track and planted our purple flag with pride. This required quick thinking as no grass, thankfully Mark Warner had a spare pair of shoes and laces to do the job 😄. pictures and Facebook post done, the team soaked in the atmosphere.

100+ teams from the north are represented consisting of their very best best runners. All hoping to qualify for the national road championships. Top 25 is the standard and the dream, but I knew it was a massive achievement for Striders just to field a competitive team. The positive chats and feedback have been amazing from many of our local clubs. They were all pleased and quite shocked to see us, the feeling of pride was really overwhelming.

Onto the running, each man gave their best which is all I ever ask. Each had their battles and all had that massive grin on their faces as they walked back to the strider area.

Chris Callan was the first leg, the excitement of starting on the track next to 150 amazing runners did nothing to distract this dedicated runner. Set off at a solid pace and consistent splits showed what a rising star he will be for the club. A solid start and strong run.

James Lee shot off on the second leg, the hand overs are just like the Durham cathedral relays and well organised. A good leg from James with his distinctive style sprint finish and 100% effort. James was A last minute stand in for the relay and I’m massively great full for him stepping up.

Mark Griffiths was next, another new strider and showing massive potential with a fast run only 3 seconds behind the flying Chris. I have no doubt Mark will continue to get ever quicker and had some amazing flying feet pictures on the day.

Mark Warner running 4th,  was massively exciting to watch as we were clearly mixing it up in the middle of this incredible field of runners. Mark ran with dedication and a impressive continued return to form.

Michael Littlewood was up next, running on heavy marathon training legs but doing what he always does, pushing through and fighting hard. Rewarded with the 2nd fastest strider leg on the day and again first strider to the beer tent 😄

I decided to run the last leg, I hunted down a few people and loved the excited cheers from the team as I charged down the home straight. The course takes you looping round the outside of the stadium, round the sport city complex then finish back on the track. The heavens opened during my leg but happy to even pace and play my part.

The strider team officially placed 55th of the day out of 103 complete teams. Some teams being disqualified and some were incomplete. We all enjoyed a nice cold beer on the way home and reflected on what we had just experienced.

So what did we think? Wow is all we could say.  For the first time Striders had fielded a complete team and we didn’t just show up, we were competitive with the very best the north had to offer. I felt proud as we chatted about the day and the possibility of doing it all again. A truly amazing experience and something I can highly recommend to everyone in the future.

So next stop will be 25th march 2018 when I will try once again to get a 12 man team together. An even greater challenge, but definitely worth a go. Would be even better if we could field a ladies team too.

Can it be done? After today I think we have a chance.

Results:- 55th place 103 finished teams

New York City Marathon, New York City, Sunday, November 6, 2016

26.2 miles

Gareth Pritchard

 

In November 2016 I completed the NYC marathon in a time of 2h56 and left New York a changed man. I am writing this report 3 months later (it’s never too late) this is my story and the birth of team Smitchard.

I decided not to run a marathon in 2016 as I kept getting injury problems due to the demands of training. Anyone who knows me will know I race hard, always pushing my limits and love seeing how high I can reach. I started 2016 unable to race and dreams of marathon running gone from my mind.

Someone mentioned I already had the required entry time for New York of 2:56. So on a quiet night shift I decided to enter the ballot (assuming I’d never get in) and completely forgot all about it. 4 months later I got my acceptance email from NYC road runners and I was in.

I had never been to New York or American so this was too good a chance to miss. We started our plans for a 6 day New York holiday and contemplating just how I was going to get to the start line fit and in injury free.

Big thanks go to Allan seheult and my amazing star supporter Catherine Smith who sacrificed massively along the way and helped make NYC happen.

What an amazing city and what an amazing race to take part in, hopefully this will help any striders looking to run this in the future.

Pre race Lessons learned?  It’s a long day, the pickup is 6am, a long bus trip, massive airport security style checks, baggage check in times are very tight and close early. Then you have a long wait in the starting pen before you start. I just about got my bag in on time then stood in the pen for over an hour getting very very cold. People had old sleeping bags and all sorts in the pen, definitely worth thinking about.

The race begins on Staten Island. Almost all of the first two miles is spent crossing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Miles 2 through 12 are run in Brooklyn. The halfway point is on the Pulaski Bridge as runners enter Queens. During the 15th mile, runners head up a ramp to get on the Queensboro Bridge, which takes them to First Avenue in Manhattan. A run over the Willis Avenue Bridge takes runners briefly into the Bronx in the 20th mile.  Runners then reenter Manhattan and head down Fifth Avenue to enter Central Park in the 23rd mile. Runners exit the park just after the 25-mile mark to run along Central Park South, reenter the park at Columbus Circle, and finish approximately 600 meters later by Tavern on the Green

Catherine ran the last 5k of the marathon the Day before in the dash to the finish event. A really nice race and helped build the excitement leading to marathon day. We also flew the British flag in the opening ceremony after being selected on the Friday too, was great meeting fellow brits in the big apple.

With a qualifier time and a front pen start I expected a smooth easy start to the race. Unfortunately something went wrong with the pens and instead of an empty road the first pen met a wall of selfie taking fun runners blocking the narrow bridge for the first 2 miles. I admit I panicked and started weaving my way through the crowd and using up precious energy on the way.

I got to half way just over 1h20 and I was serious struggling, after fighting with cramps and an emergency toilet stop I knew from experience that my race was done. So at 15 miles I made the hard decision and focus on keeping it together and finish the race hopefully sub 3 hours. A massive achievement in its own right. As I entered 1st avenue I started looking round for my star supporter but the crowds were mental and it was almost impossible to see anyone. I later found out Catherine did see me fly onto 1st avenue but road closures made it almost impossible to travel on the day.

Manhattan is not flat, New York is not flat and it’s a blinking hard marathon but the sights and sounds along the way are out of this world. Truly an amazing experience running these iconic streets, the fans are so loud and supportive and offered food along the way.

At 20 miles I was dead on my feet and eating everything I could get my hands on. Another tip:- they have water and Gatorade in the same looking cups at each station. When your tired and punch drunk is easy to get them confused, resulting in me dumping sticky Gatorade over my head.

The cramps and pain were almost unbearable towards the end and something I’ve not experienced before. Best feeling ever when I spotted Catherine in the stands shouting for me as I dashed to the line, despite fighting off the snipers attacking my legs.

It’s was a long walk after the finish till I finally saw Catherine again and things at last sunk in.

On that day I was followed by our amazing club using the tracker app, I believe it made for interesting viewing as the app finish predictions went from sun 2:40 to 3 hours plus along the way. A big thank you for the support, it really helped and made my day.

The most important event ever happened to me in New York, but it was not the marathon. The marathon was amazing, once in a life time and I will remember it forever, but that is not why this city is so special to me now.

It special because Catherine Smith made me the happiest man alive, after dragging her round half of New York, over the Brooklyn bridge just to meet a strange lady to take ore photos in the beautiful park (all part of my proposal plan, unknown to her ) she still said yes and agreed to be my wife. Captured forever in some amazing photos and a spectacular city.

New York Saw the birth of team Smitchard and made me the happiest man alive.

The sub 2:45 dream can wait for another day, some things are more important than running.

Blackpool Half Marathon, Sunday, April 24, 2016

Gareth Pritchard

This is the 2nd time I’ve raced at Blackpool but my first over the 13.1 miles distance. It’s a good 2 1/2 hours drive away so requires a hotel stop a large commitment to do it justice. My road to Blackpool started last year when my body fell apart in the build up to the Yorkshire marathon for a second year. I decided after that big disappointment, committing to a marathon again the following year was not for me, instead I decided to make 2016 a racing marathon free zone to allow for some real speed work and recover from the demands marathon training requires.

Blackpool Half Marathon. A surprise come back 1/2 marathon PB at brass monkey was the boost I needed, so I started looking round for a fast flat 1/2 that I could target. Due to work and other commitments I was left with Blackpool as the best option. A course I sort of knew after racing the 10k there last year, the dates worked and the chance of making a weekend of it meant it was the perfect choice.

So with the help of our club super coach Allan, we drew up a training plan with Blackpool being the end goal. It was based on the marathon program but allowed for exciting distractions and other races along the way without the pressure that the formal marathon program brings. One such adventure being the kielder dark skies marathon with my secret training weapon and number one fan/coach/supporter and most colour coordinated strider, Catherine. I strongly believe the long and short runs we have done together have helped improve my running in countless ways. This is something I would never have done before, heading out for a run well below my slow calculated recovery pace or spending 5 hours 10 mins time on feet round kielder.

Training had gone really well with a sub 17 Sunderland parkrun and a 10k PB at the sand dancer in the build up. With a current 1:17:30 pb I was hoping for at least sub 1:17 and ideally a top 3 finish if the last few years results were anything to go by. But as always it depends who shows up on the day, as the coach said, concentrate on my running and the race result will take care of itself.

Blackpool Half Marathon.

I felt really relaxed at the start line, confident and waving to Catherine who was still suffering from the kielder race and had to pull out of the 10k also on at the same time as the half. The target pace was 5:50 min miles but I knew I was capable of more if I felt good. So after the first couple of splits at 5:30 and 5:34 I tried not to panic too much. I deliberately slowed my pace but still well below goal pace. What worried me was how far back I placed in the field, only just top 10 after 4 miles and the leaders well ahead. You run past all the Blackpool piers, to to the roller coaster then loop back past the start at about mile 8. This is when the fast pace, slight climb and wind started affecting me. Thankfully I had Catherine shouting me on at this point from the tram tracks sidelines and I snapped back into life.

I had slowly picked my way back to 5th after dropping the 6th place runner who wanted me as a wind breaker. The only time I clocked my race time was at the 10 mile point – it read 58 something which was a really pleasant surprise (shock). Either side of that I just concentrated on trying to close the gap to the next runners. The last 3 miles were back along the coast, away from the wind and 3 miles of mad racing I won’t forget any time soon. The feeling was amazing as I caught 4th 3rd then 2nd placed runners and just kept going. This last 5k was the fastest of the race for me and a total dream. As the finish line came into sight I knew 2nd place was mine and the joy just exploded as I did a crazy hand dance to the end. My number one supporter cheered me home and I had some how achieved it, 2nd in a major half marathon race. Only then did I check my watch which read 1:15:15. I just assumed it was wrong and still did not quite believe it till the official results come out online.

For me this was the perfect race with a fantastic flat course, a really good training plan and the best support from so many people within our club. A special feeling I felt privileged to be able to share with them all.

The only slight disappointment came with the prize for 2nd place being another t shirt and that’s about it. Nothing for the mantlepiece, nothing to display leaving 3 very confused and disappointed runners at the so called ‘prize giving ceremony’. A shame after what was without doubt my best ever race and a running highlight I may never top.

Now onto the next challenge…..

Captain Cook’s Fell Race, Great Ayton, N.Yorks, Friday, January 1, 2016

BS / 8km / 318m

Gareth Pritchard and Louise Warner

Gareth goes off-road
photo by Dave Aspin

This was a very different racing experience for me, fast flat road running and PB hunting is all I’ve ever trained for. I’m the first to admit that fell and mud running is just not my bag. I hate the constant stop/starting, sliding in the the mud, kit list, carrying kit, worry about correct shoes, getting lost, navigation, walking steep sections, and being completely unable to compare one race to another. This is just a small list of the preconceptions which I held before the race which thankfully I no longer hold due to first hand experience.

Entry on the day was very easy and people soon started talking about kit you would have to carry and kit checks which made me panic as my kit consisted of a running coat, cheap fell shoes and that’s about it. Thankfully when I was watching people slowly gather and talked to other more experienced striders I soon realised I could ditch the coat and warm up best I could before the race.

Pre race strider photo call done, it was time for a quick pre race catchup and getting some info on what I had let myself in for.

I’ve been struggling with injury problems for the last 3 months and this was my first race back. Feeling heavy and not in the best shape I was not expecting much and was just hoping to not embarrass myself too much. I’ve decided to try some different things for this year and captain cooks fell race seemed like a perfect start.

Conditions were wet and very muddy, but the predicted black ice did not show, so my shoes just about did the trick. The start is fast and felt like a road race for the first mile but wearing the wrong shoes. Then the hill slowly hits, then the monster mountain knocks you out. I’m sure this is normal for fell running but I’ve never experienced pain quite like it. You have no option but to walk it’s that steep, and even constant walking was almost too much at times.

We slowly peeked at the captain cooks monument and then the mad crazy dash down the muddy hills begin. I’ve always been OK on down hill but my legs just would not recover. I slowly picked the speed up and even passed a few people on the down hill. Then the true fell runners flew past me and I was left in awe and eating their dust. Truly a different species and something very special to see.

The last section was again more like a fast road race which felt good to me, then a quick XC mud dash and sprint to the line. All over in a painful flash and confused blur as somehow I’d just managed to keep things together.

It’s hard judging your race time in an event like this but most seemed pleased with their runs. A few got lost on the top, a few bumps and falls too. With Thomas Reeves sporting the most cuts closely followed by Catherine Smith.

We all retired to a local pub for some much needed food and refreshment. Some great performances and a really enjoyable way to start the new year. A well deserved 2nd place for the elvet female team and a respectable 6th for the men’s. Definitely something I will try again.

… Louise Warner

Louise overcoming her mud intolerance
Dave Aspin

Being a fan of tarmac and intolerant to both hills and mud I never really considered attempting a fell race. And then I was presented with potential of the Captain Cook Race which was on New Years’ Day when let’s be honest, most of us are a little worse for wear after feeling obliged to stay up late the night before, drinking. After several wonderful reports on this ‘little, punchy race perfect for beginners’ I somehow agreed.

On the morning of New Years’ Day I suddenly felt a little nervous. I had no idea what to pack and so after being told I needed no specialist equipment, threw three outfit changes, several pairs of trainers, a packet of baby wipes and a chocolate milkshake into a ruck sack and set off in pursuit of my first fell race. As I was picked up by a bunch of hardened and experienced fell runners (Penny, Paul, Tom and Joan) I got the opportunity to ask lots of questions but still arrived at the destination full of trepidation.

The Royal Oak pub was filled with serious looking runners and plenty of friendly faces wearing purple though I was then informed at registration that I needed to carry a waterproof jacket during the run as minimum basic FRA equipment. Steph Piper came to my rescue with a spare bum bag, waterproof jacket and whistle which then left me able to continue.

Right on time, at 10:55 we assembled across Great Ayton High Street, somewhere close to where the imaginary start line would be and after a minute or two worth of instructions about ‘being careful on the black ice’ we were off, en masse in the direction of some very large hills. I started slowly making sure I kept lots in the tank for whatever presented itself but it was clear from the start this ‘race’ was going to be nothing like I’ve ever done before – my two previous favourite run events being the GNR and Blaydon! The run started with a relative gentle upwards gradient first on road and then more onto a trail-like track becoming narrower and narrower until it was quite quickly a single file traffic event running up the side of a progressively steep hill, the top of which was not yet apparent.

The next 1.5 miles involved no running at all and were essentially a battle against the laws of physics with me scrambling up the side of a very steep hill (mountain’) trying to reach the top in as dignified a manner as possible. Jan Young was a welcome sight halfway up the ascent, shouting positive comments to spur us Striders on. I was also aware Mandy Dawson was right behind me and so my ego kept me going, upwards. Oh what a sight the summit was”..

It was like a game of two halves with the next part being all of the fun. After 100m of flattish track the path went sharply down and I suddenly seen the pace quicken though this was nothing like I was used to, not even with a couple of XC events behind me as experience. This is where the seasoned fell runners came into their own and a couple of incredibly fast men came almost literally flying past me down the side of the mountain. And so I attempted to join them and leaving my inhibitions behind went as fast as I could through the mud, bog, bushes and uneven ground, downwards towards the village, just about managing to curb my desire to shout like a child as I went. The terrain flattened though the mud remained and I almost lost a shoe to it. Once I’d arrived back on solid, flattish ground, and knowing the end couldn’t be much more than a mile away my confidence picked up and I then started to ‘race’ in the sense I previously understood. The end was incredible with a good sprint finish to prevent the guy behind me from winning and then I was met by a sea of friendly faces at the finish line (again imaginary) and many Striders, either spectating or already finished ahead of me. Including Tom who had seemingly hurled himself of the side of the mountain and was sporting two bleeding hands, two bloodied knees and a large graze up one thigh, shorts ripped. Though he’d incredibly spared the pink bum bag he was wearing!

As confused as I was about whatever had just happened I very much enjoyed this run and would definitely consider doing it again next year.

All the money raised from this event (£2108) goes to charities. There’s more information in the Esk Valley results and race report – Ed.

Results

pos bib name time cat/pos/pts/total
1 263 Harry Holmes (York Knavesmire) 32.39 MO/1/50/189
14 1216 Caroline Lambert (Wetherby Runners) 35.22 FO/1/50/50
18 1051 Gareth Pritchard 35.41 MO/10/39/39
32 310 Paul Evans 37.57 MO/17/32/74
73 1241 Penny Browell 40.38 F40/3/46/46
88 528 Thomas Reeves 41.17 M45/8/41/84
96 1061 Mike Bennett 41.44 M60/4/45/45
119 417 Danny Lim 43.11 M40/26/23/53
127 1108 Mike Hughes 43.44 M45/14/35/35
145 1240 Louise Warner 45.18 FO/8/41/41
149 1084 Shaun Roberts 45.33 M55/14/35/35
153 1230 Mandy Dawson 45.46 F45/2/48/48
178 1046 Nigel Heppell 47.18 M60/6/43/43
179 1208 Sally Hughes 47.29 FJ/2/48/48
213 1243 Camilla Lauren-Matta 50.05 F50/3/46/46
223 21 Stephanie Piper 51.24 FO/17/32/75
225 1047 Ari Hodgson 51.30 MJ/3/46/46
246 1244 Stephanie Barlow 54.55 F40/7/42/42
259 1247 Victoria Brown 57.28 FO/21/28/28
261 1242 Anita Clementson 57.34 F45/11/38/38
264 1231 Diane Watson 58.33 F50/8/41/41
268 1019 Emil Matta 59.18 MJ/4/45/45
269 1246 Catherine Smith 59.18 F40/12/37/37

289 finishers.

Bristol Half Marathon, Sunday, September 13, 2015

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.

Blackpool Hilton Illuminations 10k, Saturday, August 29, 2015

Gareth Pritchard

count the fingers ... As part of my marathon training I wanted to run a fast flat road 10k on this exact weekend which left me with no good local options. A quick search pinged up Blackpool, while not exactly local this was described as flat, fast and on the right date to suit my needs.

So I booked a hotel with the intention of having a weekend break exploring Blackpool and maybe hit the slots at the same time. Due to very happy coincidences I ended up with the striders number one supporter to cheer me on. So the team strider consisting of one runner and one supporter, headed out to sunny Blackpool for a 10k adventure and to fly the purple flag with pride.

The course is very much like the Hartlepool parkrun, perfect for fast racing. The wind was blowing along the sea front on my warm up as I started to see the fast lads gearing up for the show. From last year’s results it looked like 33 min’s for the win and maybe 36 for the top 10. So this was my goal with maybe an outside shot at top 5 if things went really well. Training was going fantastic due mainly to the coach Allan and my 2nd number one supporter at home. I felt in fantastic shape and really relaxed going into the race with a 35:30 PB only a few weeks ago at Darlington.

A quick chat with some fast lads on the start line confirmed it was going to be a very fast and tough race ahead. The 1st mile loops back to the start and I got a massive shout out from my strider support star. Pace spot on, just about in reach of 5th place runner, a dream start and feeling good. The next few miles I raced hard and soon found myself running shoulder to shoulder for 3rd. The pace was way too fast to sustain but decided to keep at it and hope I slowed less than the lad next to me. Mile 3-4 you turn back and are faced with a few challenging hills. The pace slowed but thankfully a bit of distance started to form between me and my racing shadow. The last mile was ran in a state of shock and fear as I’ve never placed in a serious road race before and desperately hoping to hold it together.

I saw the home stretch, took one last look behind, no one was in sight. I bounced towards the line with a massive smile on my face jumping like a mad man as if I had just won the race. It must have been an odd sight but this really was a total shock and a massive achievement I never really expected to achieve.

Not a pb but still very quick at just over 36 mins and a good hard race to earn my very first top 3 placing. The reward for hard work, dedication and a slice of good luck as you never know who will turn up on the day.

A race I will never forget and a very happy strider.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Catpos Time
1 Tim Raynes Blackburn Harriers Senior Men 1 34:45
3 Gareth Pritchard Senior Men 3 36:02
31 Racheal Gavin Blackburn RR Senior Lady 1 44:59

201 finishers

Darlington 10K, Sunday, August 9, 2015

Gareth Pritchard

Grand Prix Race. Sprint Champion Race.  This is what a PB looks like. Darlington 10k has to be one of my favourite races of the year without question, it’s fast, local, easy to enter and a very high standard to push everyone onto that all important PB. Last year this was a great race for me, I was in the best shape of my life and flew round in 35:45 which was still my 10k pb as I stood on the start line a year later with 51 fellow striders.

The number 1 strider support crew were in full force with Catherine Smith and Flip leading the cheers on the day, this is a real boost for races like this and a big help and greatly appreciated by all. They managed to capture some fantastic pictures and made the day even more special for us runners, so a big personal thank you from me.

I travelled down with 3 other fellow striders, parking up was easy and everything is very well organised. Good changing facilities, easy bag drop and central location for start/finish. Had a catch up with fellow striders then hit the road with speedy Rob and Simon for a good warm up. Not sure if its just me, but I felt a real buzz in the air, the weather was dry, no wind and the smell of PB was definitely in the air.

My running lately has really started to improve due massively to the input of my coach Allan who has invested his time and effort into my training. This is something as a club that we are really blessed with as Allan also successfully trains many striders like me in the club. After the London I knew my normal/typical running low was on the way and Allan’s 10k training program really helped boost my spirits with Darlington was my end goal.

I had a plan for this race which almost worked to perfection, the first 2 miles were the key for a chance at that PB. 10 sec below 35:45 pace for those first miles, next 3 trying to pick people off and really go for it to the end. So off we went and 5:47 average for first 2 miles, a great start. Time to start picking up the pace and chasing people down. The plan worked well but the course really is not that flat and you can see this clearly in the mile split times. The down hill sections do make up for it very well but it is still challenging at times. Running the course last year really helped, so i knew the finish was down hill and very fast, as you enter the shopping high street its really time to push hard for the line. I spent the whole race passing people and had a great battle with a Durham Harrier lad to the end and was a big buzz leaving him behind as I shot for the line.

Now I kept a eye on my splits so knew it would be close to a pb, but had no real idea of my time in that last mile or as I crossed the line. A very happy and big shock as I saw 35:30 on my watch and a massive sense of joy with another fantastic PB I really did not expect to get any time soon.

I was very shortly followed by rob everson @36:24 with another PB and showing great form over a distance that I know is hard for him. 49 striders were left to follow and all had a great run, comeback pb for coach Allan who somehow managed to fall towards the end and got spoiled rotten by the friendly first aid people after the race. Starting to learn this is standard for the coach and not his first trip .

PB runs also for Michael Littlewood @ 38:10, Catherine Elliott @ 48:44, Andrew Davies @48:26

Turning Darlington Purple. All showing great form and surpassing their tentative pre race predictions. Strong runs from Lesley Charman and Simon Gardner also, showing real running form at a tough distance.

So another strider GP race done and I must admit to a sly happy grin when the nameless GP point hunter was unable to show. This due to being on an amazing holiday and really no contest when you have to decide a holiday or a GP run.

Fantastic race and will definitely be here again next year.

Results

position bib name club cat finish time chip time
1 1425 Marc Scott Richmond & Zetland Harriers Senior M 0:30:42 0:30:42
23 1344 Justina Heslop Elswick Harriers Vet Ladies 35-39 0:34:45 0:34:44
29 642 Gareth Pritchard Senior Men 0:35:32 0:35:30
44 1556 Rob Everson Senior Men 0:36:26 0:36:24
63 1965 Simon Gardner Vet Men 45-49 0:37:10 0:37:04
85 1039 Michael Littlewood Vet Men 40-44 0:38:13 0:38:11
221 1238 Paul Pascoe Vet Men 45-49 0:41:51 0:41:44
427 1240 Fiona Jones Vet Ladies 35-39 0:46:29 0:46:03
442 1097 Michael Ross Vet Men 40-44 0:46:41 0:45:56
457 1219 Greta Jones Vet Ladies 45-49 0:46:58 0:46:23
459 1281 Philip Connor Senior Men 0:46:58 0:46:43
465 1509 Danny Lim Senior Men 0:47:02 0:45:05
504 1557 Martin Welsh Vet Men 50-54 0:47:41 0:46:43
536 1224 Karen Jones Vet Ladies 45-49 0:48:14 0:47:39
569 887 Andrew Davies Senior Men 0:48:53 0:48:26
576 1640 Catherine Elliott Vet Ladies 35-39 0:49:00 0:48:44
587 199 David Spence Vet Men 65-69 0:49:10 0:48:11
611 1028 Lesley Charman Vet Ladies 40-44 0:49:35 0:48:48
622 1288 Richard Hall Vet Men 55-59 0:49:46 0:47:49
652 1205 Victoria Brown Senior Ladies 0:50:26 0:49:56
693 1642 Craig Elliott Senior Men 0:51:19 0:51:03
725 599 Katherine Preston Vet Ladies 45-49 0:51:56 0:51:10
786 626 Lindsay Rodgers Vet Men 45-49 0:53:01 0:52:15
805 1124 Stephen Ellis Vet Men 60-64 0:53:21 0:52:35
899 1011 Kate MacPherson Vet Ladies 40-44 0:55:01 0:54:15
1013 1053 Robin Linton Senior Men 0:57:19 0:55:06
1071 1364 Louise Hughes Vet Ladies 35-39 0:58:32 0:56:02
1077 1313 Rebecca Devine Senior Ladies 0:58:37 0:56:37
1104 1232 James Potter Senior Men 0:59:05 0:57:01
1170 1237 Angela Coates Vet Ladies 40-44 1:00:06 0:59:19
1195 1125 Janet Ellis Vet Ladies 50-54 1:00:45 0:59:49
1228 1559 Clare Metcalfe Senior Ladies 1:01:29 0:59:16
1260 920 Jill Young Senior Ladies 1:02:02 1:00:03
1278 1287 Helen Hall Vet Ladies 45-49 1:02:32 1:00:43
1307 342 Sophie Dennis Senior Ladies 1:03:29 1:01:40
1362 1030 Joanne Thompson Senior Ladies 1:05:09 1:04:13
1368 891 Laura Chapman Senior Ladies 1:05:20 1:04:24
1427 1245 Laura Gibson Vet Ladies 35-39 1:06:46 1:05:50
1473 894 Rebecca Embleton Vet Ladies 35-39 1:08:22 1:06:22
1491 1431 Lisa Hall Senior Ladies 1:09:28 1:07:29
1492 914 Neil Jennings Vet Men 50-54 1:09:28 1:07:29
1513 994 Joanne Richardson Vet Ladies 40-44 1:10:24 1:07:25
1514 1037 Mike Elliott Vet Men 65-69 1:10:25 1:07:26
1556 815 Alison Simms Vet Ladies 40-44 1:13:13 1:11:11
1563 905 Rachel Leigh-Firbank Vet Ladies 40-44 1:13:33 1:11:33
1606 2125 Rachel Wilcock Senior Ladies 1:19:25 1:17:24
1608 2112 Natalie Gillon Senior Ladies 1:19:36 1:17:34
1628 916 Rachel Toth Vet Ladies 40-44 1:24:29 1:22:27
1629 915 Elaine Jennings Vet Ladies 50-54 1:24:35 1:22:33
1630 444 Katharine Bartlett Vet Ladies 45-49 1:24:35 1:22:33
1634 2117 Kerry Ellis Vet Ladies 35-39 1:26:02 1:24:00
1635 2133 Donna Austin Vet Ladies 35-39 1:26:02 1:24:00
1636 628 Allan Seheult Vet Men 70-74 1:26:17 1:23:06

1649 finishers.

Hartlepool Marina 5M, Sunday, March 29, 2015

Gareth Pritchard

Weather reports leading up to the race looked terrible with rain and strong wind which potentially could wreck the PB hunters day. The race is ran along the coast and follows the parkrun route with a bit extra added on to make up the 5 miles. Very flat, fast with strong competition all ends of the field to push you on. I had mixed feeling building up to this race, my training seems to go from highs to lows every week now as I build up to the London marathon. Last week I flew round 34 miles with ease but this weeks training was terrible. Only two short runs done, feeling poorly and just not myself.

But Come the morning I was feeling good and the heavens were smiling down on the PB gang, the rain had stopped and the wind a wimpier rather than a roar. The location is great for this race, parked easy and picked number up onboard a very cool ship at the hartlepool marina. On to the race which was almost a false start thanks to a drill? Bad timing as the cannon soon went off to start the race..

Gareth puts the STRIDE into STRIDER! Plan for me was simple, try to keep super fast Rob and Stephen in sight and hope to hold off the in form simon to grab 3rd strider home. Pre race marathon paced run for Stephen effected his day and Simon was coming back from recent injury problems. Both still managed cracking runs with simon just missing sub 30 mins for another great time.

The first mile was super fast as expected with Rob zooming off into the distance while I kept trying to control my pace. You turn back half way and it’s great getting the shout outs from fellow Striders as the relentless effort kicks in. I remember Simon shouting out that Rob was finding it hard and could just about still make him out ahead. The last 2 miles to home was nothing but pure grit and effort to catch the super speedy one. I needed every mile of that race and somehow pushed ahead with less than half a mile to go. End result was an unexpected 1st strider Finnish and 2 great PB’s for us both, a fantastic and enjoyable race. This is why I love road races so much, you have no where to hide, no excuses, it all comes down to your training, fitness and pure force of will to push yourself harder than you ever imagined possible. I’m an unashamed super fan of road racing and this race was everything I love about the sport.

Another GP event in the bag. Lots of other great runs, performances and someone with a 30 sec PB which we all know about via the emails .. also 3rd place for the strider men’s team. Well done everyone. As some speedster said: well done the strider 5 mile king…… For now. .. Will definitely be back next year.

Results

Pos Name Club Time
1 Gregory Jayasuriya Middlesbrough 25:56
12 Gareth Pritchard 28:32
14 Rob Everson 28:42
18 Stephen Jackson 28:58
19 Sarah Tunstall Kendal Amateur 29:08
41 Simon Gardner 30:00
117 Katy Walton 34:01
183 Fiona Jones 36:57
187 Lesley Charman 37:07
220 David Spence 38:28
341 Lindsay Rodgers 43:57
344 Karen Chalkley 44:09
351 George Nicholson 44:34
354 Karin Younger 44:20
365 Jayne Freeman 45:10
435 Sophie Dennis 49:11
455 Mike Elliott 51:03
463 Lindsay Craig 51:54
466 Kate Talbot 52:13
471 Laura Gibson 53:15
472 Natalie Johnson 53:16

516 finishers

Trimpell 20, Lancaster, Sunday, March 22, 2015

Gareth Pritchard

After running coniston 14 the day before this 20 mile race, it’s fair to say I was pushing myself to new and untested limits. This was never the plan but I could not refuse the last minute chance that came up to run coniston for the first time. I had a plan for both races and was really looking forward to a great weekend of running.

As part of London marathon training, I was looking for a good flat 20 mile race and realised a few options are open this time of year. Trimpell is an out and back race, traffic free and good reports from previous years. After strong recommendations from striders I entered my first ever 20 mile race.

Now the important things for future runners, parking is well organised and free. Race HQ easy to find, with friendly and helpful volunteers. Changing facility’s excellent and secure baggage area. Race t-shirt, medal (nice bling) sandwich/banana and chocolate bar at the end. All very good value for money,

The plan was 5 mile pace progression, starting slow then running the last 5 miles at marathon pace. As is quite normal for me, unfortunately the plan went out the window within the first mile. Despite yesterday’s hard 14 mile race at quite a quick pace, I was feeling really good. I tried to hold my pace back but clocked my first mile at 7 mins 😟.

The next few miles flew past at the same pace and was enjoying the whole experience. Over the next few miles I was intending to slow up but my racing instinct kept me reeling people in as they puffed away, a very odd experience. The course is indeed flat and perfect for pace work. The miles flew over and I approached the 15 mile point with a sense of dread. I knew I had set off too fast for a training run and the next 5 miles at marathon pace we’re going to be painful.

Somehow I managed to keep on pace which I’m hoping to run London speeding up to 6:30 min miles and quicker. I know the feeling well of being past in the last few miles of a race, so was a real joy as I sped past runners all the way to the finish. My pace dropped slightly for the last 2 miles but still on pace over the whole last 5 which was a nice surprise.

So ends my 34 miles in 2 day, almost feel like a crazy ultra runners. Maybe one day but for now I hear London Calling. A great weekends running and a nice challenge.

Results

Pos Name Club Time
1 Julian Hatcher Border Harriers 01:53:49
20 Michelle Nolan Gateshead 02:10:40
43 Gareth Pritchard 02:16:48
322 Alister Robson 03:00:47
380 Jacquie Robson 03:12:31

530 finishers

Brampton to Carlisle, Sunday, November 16, 2014

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. Endurance Champion Race - click flag for more information. 10 Miles

Gareth Pritchard

Running the race is normally the easy part – getting to the start line injury free and in good shape is the real challenge. After the race our weekly club roundup email started like this: “Still injured; out of shape; a few weeks off the pace; aiming for sub-70 [are] all phrases issued by Gareth Pritchard in recent weeks!”.

So I guess I should put this into context and hopefully add some colour to what was another great day on the beautiful tarmac for the Striders. Almost 2 months ago I injured my achilles quite badly and have struggled ever since then. The run/walk half at Haltwhistle finally shot it to bits in September where I came 2nd from last and had to walk over the line.

Gareth speeds towards a sub-60 minute finish at the Brampton to Carlisle road race 2014
photo © Alister Robson

Even after this it took me another 3 weeks of failed self-taught rehab before I finally admitted defeat and went to see a physio like I should have done from the start – some big lessons learned.

Race day was almost perfect for running: fresh, dry and guaranteed to be mud free for my fellow PB hunters. Striders always put on a bus for this race which I highly recommend to everyone thinking about this next year. It’s a great chance to catch up with fellow striders and a well earned pit-stop for Sunday lunch on the way home (they do a great chocolate cake).

After only managing 2 training runs and having to tape up my achilles for the race, I was trying to be realistic with my goals. So a slow start, then build to 5 miles and if my achilles is OK, push hard to hopefully be home in around 65 mins. That was the plan but as I always expected, it went out of the window as soon as the race began.

I started near to my fellow speedy striders, Grahame, Matt and Stephen then my natural racing instinct got the better of me. After clocking a suicidal first mile at a 5K PB pace I finally caught up with the marathon king, Stephen (the start is downhill so you have to take advantage, but we both suffered from this super speedy start).

I reigned myself back in and started to clock 6 minute mile pace. Still faster than I planned and I knew I was not in shape to hold it but no way was I pulling back from a race. Half-way came in about 29:30 and my achilles still felt good but my lack of fitness was really showing on the undulating course as my pace started slowing towards the end.

As I slowed and people passed I kept expecting to see a purple strider top and was mentally getting ready to dig in and race hard. Thankfully the last mile is all downhill but I had no real idea of my race time until I heard Alister’s booming voice saying that sub-60 was still on as I neared the finish. A last mad sprint and and I was home – in 59:58! First strider home and still able to walk! I was very happy to say the least and only 45 seconds slower than last year – a total shock!

Stephen was 2nd strider home in 60:36 and looking a dead cert to break sub-60 next time after another massively impressive run. PB’s were had by multiple striders so a big well done to all. Congratulations to Fiona Jones as first female strider home with an impressive sub 1:15. A special mention also for Sophie Dennis who had a horrible fall in the first mile but continued for another nine to finish. Two bloody knees but she was still smiling as she crossed the finish line showing true strider grit and a credit to the club.

There was no t-shirt or memento but there were two pairs of running socks in the goody bag, so I can’t complain. As always, it was a well organised event, not all the roads were closed off but that really didn’t make a difference. Another great day and one I will definitely be looking forward to again next year.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Cat Pos Time
1 Tadele Geremew Elswick Harriers 1 49:48
56 Alex Sneddon Jarrow & Hebburn AC L 1 59:42
58 Gareth Pritchard 59:58
69 Stephen Jackson 1:00:41
131 Matt Archer 1:04:16
163 Graeme Walton V40 29 1:06:11
313 Fiona Jones L35 9 1:14:03
335 Elinor Butler L 47 1:15:15
340 Michael Downes 1:15:33
354 Lesley Charman L40 8 1:16:07
368 Jackie McKenna L45 9 1:16:55
379 Richard Hall 1:17:25
396 Anna Seeley L 65 1:18:33
408 Mark Dunseith 1:19:19
422 Greta Jones L45 16 1:19:54
426 Jean Bradley L55 5 1:20:10
440 David Spence V65 11 1:20:48
462 Paul Beal V50 42 1:21:39
489 Brian Ford V45 56 1:23:51
542 Lindsay Rodgers V45 61 1:28:28
557 George Nicholson V65 12 1:29:46
558 Sarah Fawcett L50 21 1:29:47
560 Rebecca Fisher L35 18 1:29:51
569 Andy James V65 13 1:31:03
582 Karen Chalkley L50 22 1:34:04
585 Claire Hunt L50 23 1:34:14
603 Christine Farnsworth L60 4 1:36:49
606 Denise Benvin L45 41 1:36:58
611 Jacquie Robson L35 20 1:38:30
612 Jill Ford L45 42 1:38:30
613 Victoria Downes L35 21 1:38:30
625 Karin Younger L50 27 1:39:32
632 Karen Hooper L35 26 1:42:10
635 Margaret Thompson L65 2 1:46:59
637 Anita Dunseith L 2 205 1:48:52
638 Sophie Dennis L 2 206 1:49:43
639 Sue Jennings L45 44 1:50:07
640 Kathleen Bellamy L35 27 1:50:08
641 Laura Gibson L35 28 1:51:35
642 Natalie Johnson L35 29 1:51:36

646 finishers.