Tag Archives: Joan Hanson

Chevy Chase, Wooler, Saturday, July 1, 2017

BL / 32.2km / 1219m (20 miles, 2 hills and a smattering of bog)

Joan Hanson …

The thing about entering an event months in advance is you can have that hazy positive belief that in x months time you will be bounding effortlessly over the afore mentioned 20 mile course, laughing in the face of some decidedly sucky and squelchy stuff underfoot and hardly noticing the however many thousands of feet of ascent and descent the said 2 hills (Cheviot and Hedgehope) will entail. And you will have the most enjoyable, relaxing day of running possible…. As I said a hazy and possibly rose tinted vision.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks before the event and the realization that you aren’t quite as fit as you had envisaged being and that this year they have removed the walkers option so you have 6 hours to complete it in. Hmmm.

And then the horror on the morning of the event when your companion for the journey (Dougie who has done this before) casually mentions the phrase ‘cut –offs’ for each checkpoint and that they seem a little on the tight side for the first half of the race.
I have felt in more positive frames of mind.

photo courtesy and © Gary Dunlop

But at least it has stopped raining and the summits are cloud free so navigation involving maps and compass will not be needed- and you can see exactly how far away those hills you are aiming for are away. Everyone is very friendly, kit checks are passed and before long we were off, Susan disappearing off into the horizon not to be seen again until the finish. Dougie and I leapfrogging for a fair part of the race, he faster on the steeper downhilly bits, me making up time going up. Both agreeing that the second half which on paper should have been the easy bit was anything but, I needed to dig really deep at several points to maintain forward momentum, at one point wondering why they put Wooler so far away.

We all made it back well within the cut offs- interestingly none of us exclaiming what an easy and enjoyable run we have just had but able to reflect on a real sense of achievement (and in my case relief) that it was done.

The Chevy Chase is a great and brilliantly organized event. The route takes in some beautiful and wild terrain, this year we enjoyed expansive views when we could lift our eyes from where we were putting our feet.

I’m glad I did it, the Cheviot’s are a beautiful part of the world and not that far away- definitely worthy of closer exploration –but possibly at a slightly more relaxed pace.

… Dougie Nisbet …

I’d done that bloke sulky pouty thing when Roberta had insisted on me packing some sunscreen. But as I nudged up with Susan and Joan outside race HQ and passed the sunscreen round (on the left hand side) there were lots of Dad comments about getting it behind straps, knees, ears and neck. Still, past-its-sell-by factor 30 wasn’t really going to cut it on Cheviot and Hedgehope in July and I was a bit crisp when I finished later in the day.

I could’ve pretty much written the script for the first half of the race. Joan’s shrewd choice of carrying walking poles had attracted the occasional derisory comment but they’d pretty much dried up as she climbed strongly to Cheviot with me using her as a useful point of purple to focus on as she receded ever further into the vanishing point.

After Cheviot and a revelation. You need to hang left, immediately. When I last did this in 2013 I carried on (zoned out following a walker to Scotland) and turned left too late and missed the trod that took a neat line towards Hedgehope on the other side of the valley. I caught Joan on the descent, pausing to shout “is that you falling on your arse again Hanson!”, before passing her and showing her how to do it properly.

photo courtesy and © Gary Dunlop

Everyone was now pretty much a walking washing powder commercial in the making and as we climbed towards Hedgehope I was unsurprised to have Joan back on my shoulder again. And so it continued for the next few checkpoints until CP6 – Brands Corner – we both paused for a drink and check in. The climbing was mostly over and there was a lot of running left now to the finish. I was looking forward to making up some ground in these last few miles.

“Sling your hook Joan, I’ll catch you up”, I said, when it was clear Joan wanted to press on. And so she did. And, I did catch her up, so to speak, after I’d crossed the finish line and she’d brought me over a cup of tea. I had a tough last few miles on what should be a lovely part of the course – the stretch up North West from Carey Burn Bridge is gorgeous, but I was far too busy feeling sorry for myself to pay much attention to the sunny scenery. Susan had a good decisively sub-5 finish, with Joan in around 5:16, then me in around 10 minutes later.

I’ve often said, to anyone who’ll listen, that the Chevy Chase at 20 miles, is twice as hard as the Durham Dales Challenge, at 32 miles. This was the first year the race has dropped the walking race and the cut-offs might need tweaking in the years ahead, but whatever the cutoffs it’s always going to be a tough 20 miles.

 

Hedgehope Winter Wipeout, Ingram, Northumberland, Sunday, January 22, 2017

13 ish miles

Joan Hanson

A smattering of striders took on the inaugural hedgehope winter wipeout a fairly low key race on an out and back route from the village of Ingram in the Breamish Valley in Northumberland.

The route covered an eclectic variety of terrain from a brief bit of tarmac, clarty fields, small tracks through heather and across bog, to a sprinkling of snow covered rocks enroute to the summit trigpoint of Hedgehope Hill via Dunmoor Hill. Most fun of all was the ‘suprise finish’ necessitating wading several times through a small river to refresh tired legs and clean the filthy shoes for the sprint to the finish line that included climbing over a fence.

I wouldn’t usually go for an out and back race preferring to go on a bit of a journey in the hills however it was nice to give and receive encouragement from the people going in the opposite direction whether demonstrating how to properly leap gazelle like through the heather and bogs (definately not me) to carrying what looked like half a telegraph pole- it also made navigation and the logistics of marshalling in remote terrain significantly easier.

It was billed as a hard race, thankfully the weather was pretty kind – it would have been an entirely different proposition in thick fog or driving rain. The mug of hot soup at the end was very welcome.

Here’s the link to the drone video:

Final Results:

Pos Bib Name Time ± Group Team
1. 31 Penny Browell 02:11:25.7 00:00:00.0 FV40 Elvet Striders
2. 142 Tamsin Imber 02:18:39.4 00:07:13.7 FV40 Elvet Striders
3. 116 Joan Hanson 02:50:46.8 00:39:21.1 FV40 Elvet Striders
4. 168 Camilla Lauren-Maatta 02:58:03.0 00:46:37.3 FV50 Elvet Striders
5. 55 Anita Clementson 03:02:28.5 00:51:02.8 FV40 Elvet Striders
6. 263 Neil Sleeman 03:08:44.3 00:57:18.6 M Elvet Striders
7. 148 Corrina James 03:08:48.5 00:57:22.8 FV40 Elvet Striders
8. 314 Jill Young 03:14:25.1 01:02:59.4 F Elvet Striders
9. 276 Kathryn Sygrove 03:29:16.7 01:17:51.0 FV50 Elvet Striders
10. 235 Ashley Price-Sabate 03:29:21.9 01:17:56.2 FV50 Elvet Striders
11. 233 Katherine Preston 03:48:55.2 01:37:29.5 FV40 Elvet Striders
12. 182 Kate Macpherson 03:49:24.6 01:37:58.9 FV40 Elvet Striders

Northern Navigators Orienteering Event, Low Redford & Windy Bank, Hamsterley Forest, Sunday, December 6, 2015

Light GREEN - 3.5km, 90m, 12 controls

Joan Hanson

This map and its owner have been through a thicket or two.As the wind howled round the house on Saturday evening perhaps not the most obvious choice for a run the following day was a forest, but having enjoyed the recent night orienteering event in Durham City I was tempted to give it another go. Thankfully Camilla needed little persuasion to join me, and on arrival we were welcomed by Dougie who was starting his day by manning the car park.

This was my second orienteering event – it is a whole new world of running, but I am happy to report a very friendly, relaxed and supportive one.

There was a choice of about 7 courses described by colour, I was advised to attempt the light green which is not considered technical in terms of the location of the control points of which there were 12 located around a course of a minimum of 3.5km. We paid our £5 entry, donned our electronic dibbers and set off to the start.

Dougie had tipped us off the night before that the control descriptions were on the website so I had had an informative half hour deciphering the arrows, squiggles etc and carefully writing them out to carry with me- the logic being that at least if I knew I was looking for a ‘small depression’ it would be easier to find it when running through the forest. Helpfully the symbols bear little resemblance to the actual geographical features on the ground. It was a good job I had remembered most of it because on arrival at the start I realised that I had lost it.

Although the organisers were happy for people to do the event as a pair or small team Camilla and I had decided to tackle the same course but individually, Dougie was manfully going for the brown option (the hardest one).

You start at intervals of several minutes- so you can’t follow people, and pick your map up at the point of starting. You have to visit the controls in number order. The controls are helpfully marked on the ground by orange and white flags and are individually numbered so you know when you have excitedly found the wrong one!

On an orienteering map a runnable forest is, rather confusingly, white. Saves on the ink.For me mild panic set in when Camilla (who has done a few of these events) immediately crouched down with her map and compass and set off in the opposite direction to the previous people who were doing our course. A helpful man then offered to talk me through the map – big learning point here, orienteering maps bear very little resemblance to OS maps which I am quite familiar with – as I peered into the dense undergrowth I was a little surprised to see it described on the map as being ‘forest, run’, goodness only knows what ‘forest, fight’ (yes it is an actual thing) looks like.

And then I was off, immediately up to my ankles in bog, fighting my way through the trees to arrive at control number 3. Choice words were muttered, doubt set in, and I lost all track of time. Soon I was back on track and I suspect more through luck than skill I was soon systematically finding my way through the controls without need for my compass- although I don’t feel like I did much running. I have always run off road over all sorts of terrain but there are definitely some skills to be developed here. I bumped into Camilla whilst trying to find some ‘thicket’ in the middle of a load of trees, she seemed to be making good progress.

All too soon – or perhaps hours later I arrived at the finish, thrilled to have found all my controls in a mind blowing or perhaps truly terrible 45 odd minutes and have no idea how much distance I covered – you have no idea how well you have placed until full results are out due to the staggered starts. Camilla arrived a little later than expected having had a nightmare involving trying to locate a spring and ending up in a marsh.

Amazingly I was first in my category – that’s never happened before. I think I might be hooked…..

Charity Relay, Pennine Way, Friday, July 24, 2015

Anita Clementson

Northern Section: Friday Leg 2 – Byrness to Bellingham – 15.5 miles – with Diane Watson

Anita and Diane running toward the finish of their leg on Bellingham Bridge As we waited for the arrival of Kerry & James, our northern leg 1 runners, we took the advantage of having tea in the local inn and gaining some inside knowledge on the route ahead. On asking the rather grumpy woman at the inn, she took a long breath and turned her head slowly to the clock, then looked back at us: “are you planning to do this today?” We were obviously not giving her the impression of experienced fell types that were capable of tackling 15 miles of the boggiest part of the Pennine way (a feature she was also keen to warn us about).

Luckily we managed to regain some positivity and returned to wait patiently at the checkpoint. Text messaging allowed us to get some idea of Kerry & James’ progress. In the meantime we had a leisurely chat with a guy who had nearly finished his 18-day walk of the whole PW and then there were Kerry & James, bounding along looking quite fresh after their epic 25-mile first leg trek.

So Diane and I were finally on our way! Navigation was required for the first half of what was a fairly undulating but not too hilly route. Luckily there had been plenty of time to study our OS map and so we had more or less memorised the route ahead.

Due to the delay and the fact that we didn’t want to arrive too late for Scott, who was waiting to take over at Bellingham (we were nearing 3 hours behind schedule) we took the option of missing out the boggiest part of our section (we were also warned about this by two people we met) but had to add an extra half mile of easier ground. It wasn’t an easy decision, and it would have been nice to just follow the course of the PW but common sense took precedence. As a result, the ‘baton’ [or ‘map’ as it also known – Ed] was passed on safely at the bridge over the North Tyne in pretty Bellingham, pausing only to take some photos, before Scott was on his way…our job was done!

We encountered only beautiful scenery and a slightly surreal sense of being a little part of a much bigger event knowing that all of our friends in the club were with us in spirit and that we were making our mark in the history of the club.

Karen Hooper

Central Section: Sunday Leg 5 – Sunderland Bridge to Palace Green – 10 miles

Elvet Striders Relay Runners on Palace Green at the end of a successful 2015 Charity Relay We ran through armpit-high thistles with our arms in the air, got rashes from foot to shoulder from the long grass…I spoke to Striders I had never spoken to before…I turned round and saw a whole tribe of purple behind me in the beautiful countryside…I weed in a field with someone I’d only spoken to once before who I’m now proud to call a friend…I talked about the sadness of losing babies and the support that 4Louis provide to bereaved families with a total stranger…I cheered Striders running further than they’ve ever run before…I enjoyed meat pie and a pint with new friends in The Elm Tree and shed a tear at Paul’s speech. Thank you Striders – it was just what we all needed! X

Dave Shipman’s white van

Southern Section: Friday, Saturday & Sunday – Support

Dave and Jan about to set off the leg to Pen-Y-Ghent Thursday 6.30 am: Contents being removed including old lawnmower and box of unsold car boot stuff which I have carried round for ages. Must be an expedition coming soon? Parked up next to house, suspect we will head off after work?

Thursday 5.30 pm: I was right: all surfaces hastily cleaned and bags of kit thrown in.

Thursday 6 pm: ‘Driver D’ joined by ‘Kiwi Mike’ (with no dog this time, but several more bags and a tent). Off we go!

Thursday 6.30 pm: Durham City, pick up ‘Lady J’ (must be in for a long trip if the number of bags she has are anything to go by!).

Thursday 8.30 pm: Got through all the road works (and avoided running out of petrol) to Woolley Edge services. Joined by Driver D’s double, known as ‘Our Kid’ apparently – and yet more bags!

Thursday 9.30 pm: Fiddly, wiggly roads to the campsite. Abandoned in car park for the night – typical!

Friday 5.30 am: Kettle on – bloody hell, this is an early start! Joined by what looks like a black coffin -carrier but on investigation it’s a multi-purpose removal estate car on its way back from an end-of term university visit – my sympathies, done that run a few times! Mobile catering function required for several sleepy campers after what they describe as a snore-interrupted night (nothing to do with the beers they drank before bedtime then?).

Friday 5.55 am: Bleary-eyed bloke carrying two rucksacks approaches; also has what he calls ‘a tent’; looks more like a full-body condom to me! All goes in through the back door; he sets off running and away we go!

Friday 12.00 noon: After several hours hurtling over hill and dale, parked at length on the end of Saddleworth Moor. No sign of Kiwi Mike. Eventually he arrives after losing his way but by then I’ve moved on to Yorkshire where I’m joined by a red Honda Jazz and two more runners with lots of kit bags.

Friday afternoon: Yippee! Into Calderdale relay country after ‘Pirate Nige’ (the driver of the black coffin-carrier) and Lady J (she of the many bags) have been off-piste looking for hairy sausage caterpillars! Familiar roads and hills that I’ve been round a few times.

Friday night 8.00 pm: Make it to Malham before nightfall as required but then drive backwards and forwards on narrow, stone-walled lanes looking for Moon’s Farm campsite. Find two campsites but not of that name and eventually work out that it’s the one at the foot of Malham Cove. Joined by a red Golf and red Polo, so relay convoy status is now established. No room on the campsite but Mrs Moon kindly lets me use her car park, assisted by red Golf moving over to give me breathing space which I need after the last 24 hours!

Saturday 7.00 am: Mobile catering required again: runners seem even more bleary-eyed but still enthusiastic. Bags, damp tents and sweaty kit thrown in the back, along with an assortment of food and drink.

Saturday 8.15 am: Runners set off in beautiful sunshine. I get my insides swept out and Kiwi Mike beats my carpets – first time in a long time!

Saturday 8.30 am: Off for a beautiful trip round the Dales: up to Arncliffe, down both sides of Pen Y Ghent seeking runners on the move with no success. Then to Horton where I’m left in a pub car park but am eventually rescued by Kiwi Mike.

Saturday 2.00 pm: After being abandoned for a couple of hours in Hawes, found by Driver D and ‘Chatterbox Jan’, both looking sweaty and weary but with bags of food and drink and off we go again.

Saturday 6.00 pm: On the road for ages, over Butter Tubs Pass, people in and out, stops at Tan Hill, a tunnel under the A66, supposed to be heading for near Middleton but left parked next to a barn: sign says “To be kept clear at all times” so I will probably get towed away by a tractor! Passengers seem intent on standing in a field with cows, staring for over an hour at a distant horizon. Farmer arrives and doesn’t tow me away, instead gives friendly advice about how savage cows can be then, once the red Polo has been moved, farmer drives off up track. Eventually runners appear, pause briefly for water from my diminishing supplies then head off up the track after the farmer.

Facing up to 'savage' cows was all part of the challenge!

Saturday 8 pm: At last! A campsite instead of a car park! Company of other vans and tents; passengers have all gone to the pub; night may not end well!

Saturday 10 pm: As I suspected, a crowd of folk have returned to use my lounge facilities: Kiwi Mike brings out cake; ‘Party Jean’ finds a bottle of Amaretto left over from Xmas; rattling bags of cider and beer come from cupboards and rucksacks. Remarkably, peace and quiet by midnight.

Sunday 7.30 am: Breakfast time again: folk seem more bleary and tired, less energetic until joined by ‘Tigga Till’ and Joan who set off up the hills. Random packing follows before I head for Wolsingham Station via Bollihope Common and across the moors. Apart from our convoy, there’s hardly any traffic and no people.

Sunday 12.00 noon: Tigga Till and Joan arrive at the station, no trains running, so join us for a drive to Witton Park where I am left on my own for hours by the side of Paradise Park (an over-generous description when compared to the scenery I have been through in the last 48 hours!). Seemingly, Bleary-eyed Paul, Pirate Nige and Lady J got lost in the long grass!

Sunday 1.00 pm: Diversion to Newton Cap Viaduct seeking ‘Captain Anna’, who in turn was seeking Kiwi Mike; no sign of either so on to Willington…

Sunday 1.20 pm: Willington: amazing crowd of runners, all waiting for Kiwi Mike, none with bags and none needing a lift thank goodness! All say they are running to Durham.

Sunday 2.30 pm: Sizeable group head for Durham; party atmosphere. Kiwi Mike leaves me near Durham Rowing Club and heads off with Bleary-eyed Paul to do yet more running.

Sunday 5.30 pm: Kiwi Mike and Driver D return in pouring rain but good spirits. Appears that the trip has been a great success!

Sunday 5.45 pm: Parked up in Chester-le Street; over 450 miles covered; job done! Kiwi Mike and Driver D remove a few bags of kit and walk away. Wait a minute! Come back! What about the bags of wet and sweaty kit? What about the soggy bananas and left over cake crumbs, half-eaten sandwiches and water bottles? And who do these red boxer shorts belong to?!!

Penny Browell

Southern section: Friday Legs 5 & 8; Saturday Leg 1; Sunday Legs 4 & 5

Penny, Paul & Steph come together for an almost nocturnal 'selfie'.

Friday, Leg 8 – Ickornshaw to East Marton – 9 miles – with Paul Evans: having said I probably shouldn’t run at all (dodgy ankle making me whinge a lot), I decided I wasn’t content with the 10-miler earlier with Steph and Paul so volunteered to take on what turned out to be the final leg of the evening. I was told it was easy-ish and not too long (which I guess is what 9 miles and 1,250 feet is for Paul Evans!). But even he was tired (after more than 20 miles) and the climbs seemed bigger than they should have been and whilst it was lovely to see the sun setting from a perfect viewpoint it was also a bit nerve-wracking as we had no head-torches and there were still a few miles to go.

More worrying though, were the cows, one of which seemed to take a dislike to me and after a little lurch, started heading towards me. Paul recommended jumping over the fence but as it was about shoulder height for me – with barbed wire on the top – I didn’t rate my chances! To cut a long story short, we managed to escape unscathed but still had to race the light to reach East Marton by nightfall.

When we got to the canal we knew we were nearly there but when a slight edge of doubt crept in to Paul’s voice I was beginning to get a bit concerned. Then I spotted a lonely beam of light flickering in the darkness ahead – it was Steph! Come in search of us! And so, just before 10.00 pm, our leg was done. Sadly too late for the pub dinner I’d promised myself but still leaving me with a very content smile on my face.

Juliet Percival

Southern section: Friday Legs 2, 3 & 7; Saturday Legs 4, 5 & 6; Sunday Leg 2

Juliet in a 'weary legs' phase! As I write this, the three days of the southern legs are now a blur of…chilly dawns…hurried muesli…squeezing wet tents back into bags…driving…plodding…eating cake…driving…running…wonderful views…eating cake…running…endless views of rolling green hills and patchwork fields…waiting…cheering and clapping for smiling Striders out in force…drinking coffee…wonderful company…running…weary legs…waiting…runners’ heads bobbing up over the horizon…dreaming (of a hot shower)…drinking coffee… “there they are!” …running…COWS!…”what if it’s a bull?”…slow to a walk…eyes down…be invisible… beautiful, peaceful countyside…lovely banter…”how many more miles?” …getting late…pitching tents in the dark (hilarious!)…racing to the pub (too late for food)…crisps and alcohol for supper again!…”another round?”…”why not!” …returning to campsites in the dark…no showers…grim…feeling stinky…sleeping bags…overtures of snoring…chilly dawns (again)…hurried muesli…”off we go”…”

Roz Layton

Northern section: Saturday Leg 3 – Knarsdale to Garrigill – 14 miles – with Debs Goddard & Jean Bradley

Nothing could be nicer than standing in the middle of unfamiliar countryside on the Cumbrian/Durham border on a warm day, surrounded by orchids, harebells, cranesbill and buzzing insects. Just a nagging worry affects the mood: where are they? Are they OK? Have I missed them?

Thank goodness for a good phone signal and Debs’ clear decision-making (…leave Alston, come and meet her and Jean further up the route at Knarsdale). This turned out to be an abandoned station on the old South Tyne railway, with platform, an old ticket office and signs threatening forty shilling fines…

It wasn’t long before Debs and Jean came trotting along the track, cheerful but a bit frustrated by the disappearing Pennine Way ‘acorns’ [motif that indicates the Pennine Way trail – Ed]. So much for the Pennine Way becoming an eroded motorway then – even when we could find the route it was often overgrown!

Jean and I could only admire the map and its reader as we were ‘spectacle-free’ and so we continued, skirting Slaggyford happily enough but losing time as what ‘acorns’ there were led us over stiles and into fields with no apparent exit. On one occasion we found ourselves face to face with a herd of cows and their calves and – yes – climbing to his feet as we approached, a big creamy bull guarding the gateway!

Alston to Garrigill had less drama but was just as pretty. We anticipated ‘lashings and lashings of ginger beer’ but a wonderful half-pint outside the newly refurbished pub won out, underscoring the satisfaction of running twice as far as I’d expected and the ‘Striderly’ pleasure of running with good friends.

Mike Elliott

Northern Section: Saturday Leg 6 – Cauldron Snout to Holwick – 9 miles – with Andy James.

Mike makes the awkward descent of the waterfall of Cauldron Snout.

After doing ‘Park Run’ in the morning I checked my OS Teesdale map of early-60s vintage that didn’t even show the Tees being dammed at Cauldron Snout to form Cow Green Reservoir (luckily the contours were in the same place however). I then joined Andy at Ebchester for the drive to the start of the final northern leg of our charity relay, arriving there about 4.00 pm for an estimated start time of 5.30 pm. No other Striders were in sight but it was early days…

The weather was sunny: 14 degrees with a gentle breeze but then a black cloud appeared, bringing heavy vertical, then horizontal, rain and HAIL! (Was this July?). So, like the sheep around us, we sheltered behind a stone wall (baaa!). The storm passed, the sun came out again and we soon dried out.

By about 6.00 pm we concluded that with no one else was going to join us, and that we might have missed a ‘relay running late’ message. Miraculously, we found a sign near the dam which said ‘GOOD MOBILE PHONE SIGNAL HERE’ (move one yard either way – no signal!) and called Steph who said Jon Ayres was on his way from Dufton and should be with us in an hour and a half. Being the good civil and electrical engineers that we are, off we went to explore the dam and its water pressure measuring boreholes, generators and anything else we could find (howay, it filled in the time!).

To our delight, Jon arrived a tad early from his magnificent solo effort across the tops and after sharing info and pleasantries, his legs then had the luxury of driving Andy’s car to Bowlees visitor centre.

Still no more troops, so off we went, down the side of Cauldron Snout and onto the rock-strewn paths of the Falcon Clints’ boulder field (could have been on the moon) along with the odd board-walk then eventually onto something vaguely runnable. This was not going to be a 10K PB!

The first half of the leg was on the north bank of the River Tees (the south bank appeared to be marked on the map as an MOD training area). After the tribulations of the Clints and Holmwath Escarpments, we arrived at Widdy Bank Farm where we could at last make good progress after our mountaineering experiences. Then we saw the sign that said it all: three and a half miles back to Cauldron Snout, three and three-quarters to High Force. HEY UP – we thought this was a 10K!

Across ditches, and through stones walls via little wooden gates, across the bridge over Harwood Beck, then crossing to the south side of the River Tees at Cronkley, then onto a wide track for 400yards (which made us look like models on a cat walk).

Next was a trip around a farm yard (no Old Macdonald or quarter-pounder’s to be seen) where we encountered a problem due to the lack of way markers: options were to follow a boggy fence line, climb a steep hill covered in gorse or back-track towards the MOD area. We chose to climb the hill (probably a short cut to dry ground but slightly longer) until we hit the PW again.

Next obstacle was a barbed wire-topped fence where we put our high jump skills to the test (gold medals being awarded to both participants). Then it was back down to low ground to see some friendly faces albeit a flock of sheep (who decided not to follow us due to the fact they were not as fit as us athletes!).

At last we hit a reasonable track, so, putting more coal on the fire, we reeled in the miles to High Force. What a long three and three-quarter country miles that was (must have been all those photo stops)! A quick decision not to dive into the cold, fast flowing, peaty waters at High Force then we pushed on to Low Force and Wynch Bridge (a suspension footbridge built for lead miners in 1830).

Here we saw a poster nailed to a tree saying Strathmore Arms, 1 mile – nectar! In the heather we caught a glimpse of a young ‘Monarch of the Glen’ [a deer – Ed] scratching its lug at the sound of these two explorers; he then showed us how to cope with cross county hills by bounding away.

Onwards across the quickly darkening fields with Andy’s phone shattering the quiet of the countryside. It was Paul asking if we are still alive and what our favourite tipple is! Back to tarmac and the comforting lights of Holwick (or IS it Holwick? – No sign of a pub and only a few well strung out houses – have we got the wrong village? – We stop and knock on the door of a house at 10.00 pm – “Where is the Strathmore Arms?” – “Just there love” – relief!).

Finally, after two-and-a-half hours, we receive the most rousing of receptions from the locals and many of the lads and lasses who ran the Southern and rest of the Northern legs. Then it was into the pub with just enough time to embrace everyone in sight, hoy a pint down our necks (courtesy of the landlord) and enjoy the band.

The campers then made their way to bed so they could be fresh, waiting for Paul’s foreign accent to ring out at 7.00 am: “Hi de hi campers, your breakfast is ready and no cooking required: IT’S IN A CAN!”.

We intrepid explorers continued our adventures: a one-and-a-half mile cross-country walk to the car (thanks for the torch Nigel) and then over the dales to Ebchester. I never knew rabbits came out in such numbers at night, with the journey being a rabbit slalom course (we managed it without harming any, so rabbit pie was off the Sunday menu).

Hope you enjoyed the above tale. It could have been the tail of Peter………..Oh come on, they don’t get any better!

Joan Hanson

Central Section: Sunday Leg 1 – Holwick to Wolsingham – 16 miles – with Till Sawala.

Me and Tigger Till strike out for Wolsingham Today I picked up a total stranger that I met via a Facebook message then got quietly freaked out on arrival at the campsite at 8am to be told by fellow bleary-eyed striders that Till can run…didn’t you realise Joan?.. really quite fast…sub 3-hour marathon actually. Till then proceeded to run ‘really quite fast’ although he referred to it as ‘relaxed social pace’. He was certainly able to converse with ease as he bounced along beside me in his Hokas (quite a lot like Tigger) consistently up a big hill, then on tarmac (that’s another first). Words of encouragement were offered by a convoy of the aforementioned striders in their cars before we struck out over the moors and down into Weardale. We took slightly longer than the 2 hours on the original schedule for this leg but had a great morning out and we didn’t get lost.

Ultimate Trails 55km, Saturday, June 27, 2015

Joan Hanson

Jane and Joan.I cannot recall why I entered this race, I think an early bird discount was a major motivating factor, that and a lack of attention to basic maths I.e. converting km to miles-55km equalling not too many miles in my head 1800metres of ascent inconsequential. Lesson learnt.

Jane Ives and I set off on our circular journey from Ambleside together, the route was mostly on well made stony bridleways with some tarmac and footpaths thrown in for good measure and was generally well marked- interestingly a map was not on the essential kit list but a mobile phone was. Although there was lots of up and down the route stuck to valleys and passes rather than summits the views were great, one advantage of the clear blue skies.

I was really pleased to finish in one piece well within my hoped for time although feeling really rather sickly- the advertised ‘well stocked’ food stations really weren’t up to ldwa standards, tiny pieces of banana, jelly babies and peanuts with rehydration drink not up to my idea of long distance mountain food.

We got a t shirt and weighty medal for out efforts and were chip timed, the marshals were friendly and very encouraging.

For people who don’t like navigating,like fairly hard surfaces underfoot, nice views and have a desire to try and run 36 miles with 6000 ft of ascent this may be a good race to try. And if that doesn’t wet your appetite there is always the 110km option to consider although why anyone would want to start running at midnight is beyond me. I would recommend taking your own food though.

Ultra Tour of the Lake District, Saturday, July 30, 2011

50 miles

Tom Reeves and Joan Hanson

Tom: This is a fairly new race only 4 years old and was started as a English version of the UTMB. I ran this race last year and despite rather wet conditions enjoyed it.

Camping at the school in Coniston is included in the entry fee and we arrived early enough on the Friday to squeeze a pint of Bluebird bitter in at the pub after the check in. Saturday morning saw us sat in the school hall in Coniston listening to the legend that is Joss Naylor give us a pep talk before we caught the fleet of coaches to take all the runners to the start of the 50 mile route at Dalemain. The sun was shining and everyone was enjoying the warmth although this would change as we all got into the race properly. The race was delayed due to one of the coaches having a bit of bump with a car on the way over which meant potentially more time running in the dark for the majority of us. At 12.25 we were off.

Tom ... so far so good ...

Joan: Lesson 1 – don’t ask for entry into sporting events for Christmas – that’s why I’m standing in the holding pen at Dalemain. It’s hot and I’m feeling rather queezy at the thought of what’s ahead of me. My rucsac feels too heavy.

Leg 1 Dalemain to Howtown, 11.2 miles 294m (965ft) ascent

Tom: The 50 miler starts with a 4 mile lap of the Dalemain estate and there were a lot of people going off hell for leather only to be passed later on in the first section which took us via Pooley Bridge to Howtown on the shores on Ullswater. I was looking to do this in about 2 hours at a very steady pace and actually got there in 1hour 46minutes. I grabbed some cake, a banana and topped up my water and was off in less than 5 minutes. I think I paid for my haste over leg 2!

Joan: People sprint past me at the start only to be overtaken as they join an orderly 50 metre queue for a stile – us skinnys can squeeze through small gaps in fences. It really is very very hot. Nice to head away from Dalemain to begin the route proper, heading through Pooley Bridge the walking poles come out for the first hill of the day and I pass Phil Owen who is attempting the 100 mile route. There are fantastic views along Ullswater. Don’t fancy much to eat at the first checkpoint but grab a banana to fuel me on the next section which Tom has warned me is the hardest. Oh god if he thinks it’s hard…

Leg 2 Howtown to Mardale Head, 9.4 miles 765m (2510ft) ascent

Tom: This leg which goes over the highest point of the course to Mardale Head was my least favourite section last year and it proved to be my least favourite again. This time due to the heat. The climb up out along side Fusedale Beck was … brutal. I later found out from other runners that this was pretty much the universal view. The heat was pretty intense being the hottest part of the day and the climb is steep and long! There wasn’t much respite along the shore of Haweswater either. Mardale Head Checkpoint was manned by the army and there were bags of jelly beans, cola, tea, flapjack and soup and groups of runners flaked out in any available shade.

Joan: Heading up into Fusedale it just seems to get hotter and hotter, there is no respite from either the sun or the ascent. People are starting to flag, usually walking up hills is my strong point – not today, I start to feel decidedly ill and start to wonder whether I will be retiring at the next checkpoint- my head just isn’t into it this turns into Lesson 2 – these long distance events are as much about your psychological approach as your physical strength. Thankfully it clouds over as I crest the top of the ridge and hook up with a few others for the descent to Haweswater.

Leg 3 Mardale Head to Kentmere, 6.5 miles 511m (1677ft) ascent

Tom: The steep climb up Gatesgarth Pass was strewn with jelly beans. I was steadily passing people and it’s on this section that you can see the competitors who are more or less running your pace. I noticed one or two runners who were better than me on the climbs but not so confident on the descents (I like to work with gravity). Kentmere checkpoint is a bit of a legend supplying great food, fruit smoothies, rice pudding and copious cups of tea and the option of a massage if needed. At 27 miles you are also over half way so it’s a bit of a psychological boost. It’s also pretty hard to leave with such good food and proper seats!

Joan: I wonder what the sheep will make of all the piles of jelly beans along side the track. The route guide comes out to ensure I get into the Kentmere checkpoint where there is a very enthusiastic welcome, there’s a real party atmosphere with balloons and fairy lights. My highlight of this leg was overtaking a couple girls running whilst I was walking. Ha! At Kentmere I see Anna S who has decided to retire, it’s very very tempting to join her but there’s still daylight and it’s cooled right down now so Ambleside is in my sights.

Leg 4 Kentmere to Ambleside, 7.3miles 491m (1611ft) ascent

Tom: On the climb up the Garburn Pass I got talking to the guys who’d been jockeying with me for position over the past 8 miles or so and we more or less ran as a group for the rest of the race. There’s a really nice long run down from the top of the pass into Troutbeck and we got up a good head of steam taking turns to run out in front of the group. Arriving into Ambleside was great, there were people all along the road cheering us on and it was such a boost.

Joan: I persuade David and Stephen (who made the mistake of sitting next to me) to join me for ‘a bit of a walk’ – I really didn’t want to be heading into the night sections ahead on my own and we end up sticking together for the rest of the event. There’s a lovely sunset as we head down into Troutbeck, with views stretching away over the western fells and the bats are swooping. We arrive in Ambleside just after closing time to a great welcome. Get a text from Tom – he’s at the last checkpoint – lucky thing!

Leg 5 Ambleside to Chapel Stile, 5 miles 234m (768ft) ascent

Tom: The next section to Chapel Stile in Langdale is a nice short section and rather pleasant running. The light was starting to fade and we got our head torches out at the checkpoint ready for the night. I later chatted to a 100 miler who swears he saw a sheep eating a banana on the Langdale section.

Joan ... when I catch up with that bugger ...

Joan: Thrilled I’m still going but the feet are starting to feel sore – never thought it would be a pleasure to hit tarmac. At Skelwith Bridge the signpost says Coniston 5 miles, we’ve got about 12 to go. It’s properly dark now, no hint of a moon. I wonder if Tom’s finished yet and if he’d be prepared to come and collect me from Chapel Stile – decide probably not and head off again leaving people huddled round the roaring fire at the Chapel Stile checkpoint.

Leg 6 Chapel Stile to Tilberthwaite, 7.1 miles 387m (1270ft) ascent

Joan: This one was very hard going, just following the person in front. I am now heartily sick of these stoney uneven Lakeland bridleways. New mental strategy is to tick off the remaining ascents (I’d recce’d this bit). Very very pleased to see Tilberthwaite.

Leg 7 Tilberthwaite to Coniston, 3.5 miles 283m (928ft) ascent

Tom: The final sections to Tilberthwaite and then back to Coniston have a couple of quite hard climbs and feel much longer than they are. Running in the dark is a shame because I’ve done these sections during the day and the scenery is wonderful. Well to cut a long story short I arrived back at Coniston in 11 hours and 56 minutes with my new running buddy Martin a plumber from Yorkshire. I was shattered and felt pretty sick but pleased to have got in under 12 hours. I was nearly an hour slower than last year but heat is just not my thing and clearly that goes for lots of other runners judging by the drop out rate and the generally slower times.

Joan: Great to know I’m going to finish, tinged with disappointment that I’m a fair bit slower than I’d hoped- the plus side of this is it is getting light as we start the last descent. I finally arrive back in Coniston at about 5.15am. Shattered. Never again. (I think this year I’ll ask for perfume or maybe a nice handbag for Christmas) This is a really well organised event – but not to be underestimated, the combination of the distance, ascent/descent, terrain and the weather make this one heck of a challenge. It sold out very quickly this year so if you fancy a go you need to get in quick.