Pete Bland Kentmere Horseshoe fell race 2021, Sunday, August 1, 2021

AM / 12.3m / 3300ft

Nina Mason

A few months ago I entered a handful of fell races, determined to get ‘hill fit’ again. I have read a bit about the Kentmere Horseshoe, it has got history, and it looked a great route from a valley I have not previously explored.

Mum came with me on the day, and she did a decent walk, pretty much the route of the race, though dropping back down the valley just before Kentmere Pike. The weather was forecast cooler, but we got sunshine and heat again. I shouldn’t complain, but I do, I find these conditions tough to run in.

This year the race was part of the fell running championships. Plus, it was Pete Bland’s memorial race, following his death in November, so a huge entry of 600. He had organised the race for many years, and there was a very moving speech before the start. (He was a lot more than RO, and the Fellrunner magazine had done a great tribute supplement about him earlier this year).

The race started in two waves, women first then the men 15 minutes later. It starts, inevitably, with a long climb. Up Buck Crag, round Yoke, and to the first checkpoint on Ill Bell. Then a fast trod up to High Street (CP2). From there to Kentmere Pike (CP3) it undulates a bit, but lots of good running, and then a good couple of miles downhill to the finish.

Except for the first climb, much of this race is very runnable – lots of grassy trods, and some flattish or undulating sections once up on the tops. This made the race pretty fast, with the winning time 1hr22! Because of the split start, the first men caught me 50mins into my run, flying past, then a steady flow kept passing me until Kentmere Pike, when paces started to even out.

As for my run – urgh. I never felt like I got into my running. A late banana? Like the Grinch, were my shoes too tight? Was I weary after a long run out last weekend? Whatever it was, my head didn’t feel in the right place, and my competitive edge never really appeared. I lost places in the women’s race where I would usually battle harder, and even on the downhill I didn’t feel physically comfortable. What a waste, as downhill is the best bit for me! My mum made all the effort to climb to the halfway point to be rewarded with ‘I feel like sh*t’, and when asked about the views I hung my head in shame – all I had seen was my feet. I feel sure I could have picked up a few places if I had felt more on form, not like me at all.

But I cheered up enough to enjoy some  post-race chat with friends from other clubs, and the sun shining on the finish and the event field. The route is fabulous, the race organisation was great (as expected), and the fell-running spirit much in evidence – competitive, but always supportive. Kentmere is a beautiful village and valley, and I am determined to go back both for my own outings and to tackle the race again.

Results

PosNameClubCategoryTime
1stJacob AdkinKeswick ACMSEN01:22:20
7thHannah HorsburghKeswick ACWSEN01:29:30
309thNina MasonElvet StridersW4502:15:13

478 Finishers, 3 DNFs

External Links

Full Results can be found on SportIdent.

Race Organiser’s website: www.kentmerehorseshoe.org.uk

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Willow Miner Trail Race Results 2021

2021 Winners

Graeme Watt of Elvet Striders
Aly Dixon of Sunderland Strollers

Full Results

PositionTimeNumberFirst nameSurnameCategoryClub
10:38:11260GraemeWattMV40Elvet Striders
20:38:23203MichaelLittlewoodMV40Elvet Striders
30:39:29211AlistairMaxwellMJesmond Joggers
40:39:54242GarySpaldingMRun Peterlee
50:40:07257MattWalkerMV40Durham City Harriers
60:40:21229IanPickettMV40Tyne Bridge Harriers
70:40:54261PaulWeirMV40Sedgefield Harriers
80:42:19155AlyDixonFV40Sunderland Strollers
90:42:42212LindsayMcEwanMV40Elvet Striders
100:42:44146AlexCollierMV40Elvet Striders
110:43:02208IanMarshMNorth Shields Polytechnic
120:43:13160ThomasDuttonMElvet Striders
130:43:42220DavidNolanMLow Fell
140:43:55255DavidWalkerMV50Sedgefield Harriers
150:44:00141KevCarraharMV50Sunderland Harriers & AC
160:44:14224DarrenParksMV40Jarrow & Hebburn AC
170:44:27161KarlEdwardsMV60Hartlepool Burn Road Harriers
180:44:59190LeeJohnsonMWashington Running Club
190:45:12196JohnKirbyMDerwent Valley Running Club
200:45:19172DavidGribbenMV60Houghton Harriers & AC
210:45:21239TobyRoutledgeMJesmond Joggers
220:45:29267MaxWilkinsonMDurham Fell Runners
230:45:38177OliverHearnMNorth Shields Polytechnic
240:45:55144LauraCheethamFJesmond Joggers
250:45:57234AllanRenwickMV50Elvet Striders
260:46:20178AndrewHeavisideMV40Crook & Dist Sports AC
270:46:27127PhillipAtkinsonMV50Birtley AC
280:46:31232JoanneRaineFAberystwyth Athletic Club
290:46:35248JohnSutcliffeMV40North Shields Polytechnic
300:46:45218PeterMilburnMV60
310:46:48157JohnDoddsMV50Washington Running Club
320:46:59193TristanKeatsMV50Stockton Striders AC
330:47:04128BrianBailesMV50Birtley AC
340:47:04137RachelBrehenyFV40Jarrow & Hebburn AC
350:47:31165StevenFairbairnMV40
360:47:35252IanThompsonMCrook & Dist Sports AC
370:47:59180GeoffHewitsonMV60Crook & Dist Sports AC
380:48:07187JackLoganM
390:48:10194JaniceKellyFV50Run Peterlee
400:48:13245LukeStevensM
410:48:14264CorrineWhalingFV40Elvet Striders
420:48:21153ShannelCurtisFV40Birtley AC
430:48:28152MalcolmCoxMV60Sunderland Strollers
440:48:33159LeeDrummondMV40Birtley AC
450:49:01129PhillipBainesMV40Stockton Striders AC
460:49:11154MichaelDaleMV40Elvet Striders
470:49:15169SimonGardnerMV50
480:49:51216AllanMcManusMV40Sunderland Harriers & AC
490:50:11134MartinBoalM
500:50:20227RachaelPerowneFV40Tyne Bridge Harriers
510:50:39122StevenAireyMElvet Striders
520:50:41191StevenJonesMV40
530:50:47215ShaunMcGrathMV50Houghton Harriers & AC
540:50:55166CliffordFeatherstoneMV60Durham City Harriers
550:51:04231RebeccaPottingerFBirtley AC
560:51:10126CallumAskewMElvet Striders
570:51:11258JonathanWallaceMV50Sedgefield Harriers
580:51:17167StevenFinnieMSunderland Strollers
590:51:26246AndrewStoddartMV40Newcastle Frontrunners
600:51:37140SiButterworthMV40Shildon Running & AC
610:51:39176IanHearnMV50North Shields Polytechnic
620:51:40266JocelynWilkinsonFV40Run Peterlee
630:51:48124JenniferArthurFDurham City Harriers
640:51:59151VikkiCottonFV40Sunderland Harriers & AC
650:52:04230DaniellePizzeyFGateshead Harriers & AC
660:52:43200BrettLambertMV40Aycliffe Running Club
670:53:15201DavidLeatMV60Stockfield Striders
680:53:48254LyneValentineFV60Sunderland Strollers
690:54:02138MichaelBunnMV60Jarrow & Hebburn AC
700:54:15226Anna EvaGarrido MoyanoF
710:54:39235ShaunRobertsMV60Elvet Striders
720:54:46209RachelleMasonFV40Elvet Striders
730:55:11210TimMatthewsMV50Elvet Striders
740:55:31249LeighTangFGateshead Harriers & AC
750:55:34174KeithHattonMV60Shildon Running & AC
760:55:40150AndrewCoolingMV40Sun City Tri
770:56:00143MarkChapmanMV40Sedgefield Harriers
780:56:11147LouiseCollinsFElvet Striders
790:56:28121JohnAdamsM
800:56:54139StephenBustonMV40
810:56:57195PeterKingMV50Sedgefield Harriers
820:56:58186PeterJacksonMV40Coxhoe on the Run
830:57:12130MegBakerFElvet Striders
840:57:15241RebeccaSnaithF
850:57:27240MarkRussellMV50Stocksfield Striders
860:57:40168StuartForsythMNewcastle Frontrunners
870:57:53238MickRobsonMV50
880:58:22158KayDrummondFV50Birtley AC
890:58:23253ZoeTowersFV40Birtley AC
900:58:34256MarieWalkerFV50Sedgefield Harriers
910:58:43170SimonGentMV40North Shields Polytechnic
920:59:08164SarahFairbairnFV40
930:59:26185CalistaIbbotsonFElvet Striders
940:59:35135RachelBoalFElvet Striders
950:59:39244JohnStephensonMV60
960:59:47265NicolaWhitmanFV40Saltwell Harriers
970:59:53175ChrisHearmonFV50Sedgefield Harriers
981:00:02182DavidHodgsonMV50Elswick Harriers
991:00:06268PaulWilkinsonMV50
1001:00:15251CharlieTaylorMV60Runnation Running Club
1011:00:39204JoanneLuckingFV40Ponteland Runners
1021:00:50123ChristineAllenFCrook & Dist Sports AC
1031:00:51250AmandaTaylorFV50Crook & Dist Sports AC
1041:00:55213AliceMcGeeFWashington Running Club
1051:01:44225SophiePattersonF
1061:02:42270JanYoungFV60Elvet Striders
1071:03:00259MarcWatsonMV40Elvet Striders
1081:03:57222StephenPalmerMV40Birtley AC
1091:04:29131EmmaBarnettFV40
1101:04:30162LeeEgglestoneMCoxhoe on the Run
1111:04:52233DuncanReedMV50Farsley Flyers
1121:05:17206WendyLynchFV50Low Fell
1131:05:19214AllysonMcGrathFV50
1141:05:31163StephenEllisMV60Elvet Striders
1151:05:57142GeorgeCawkwellMV70Crook & Dist Sports AC
1161:06:12236EmmaRobinsonF
1171:06:12132LucyBlacklockF
1181:06:12183AshleighHoltF
1191:06:18243CherylStanleyFV40Low Fell
1201:08:03188SimonJamesFV40
1211:08:22149JillConnollyFV60Sunderland Strollers
1221:08:46247KevinSugdenMV40
1231:11:33207RebeccaMaddisonFV40
1241:11:33237AngelaRobsonFV40Elvet Striders
1251:12:03205LisaLumsdonFV40Elvet Striders
1261:14:20223TeresaPalmerFV50Birtley AC
1271:14:24197MonicaKnightFV40
1281:14:49171LucyGibbisonFV40North Shields Polytechnic
1291:17:14269KirstyWiltonFV40Sunderland Strollers
1301:17:37145JimmyColledgeMV60Lonely Goat RC
1311:18:43136ClaireBrabanFV40Birtley AC
1321:19:19181KayleighHindFElvet Striders
1331:21:11199AshleighLafaurieF
1341:21:12125JamesAshtonMCoalfields Tri
1351:26:56192SarahJuliffFBlackhill Bounders

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Willow Miner Trail Race 2021

Elvet Striders are delighted to once again host the Willow Miner Trail Race, on Wednesday, 21st July 2021, at 7pm.

This year’s race is kindly sponsored by Start Fitness. 

We are proud to be holding the race in aid of Mind (reg. charity 219830) and The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation (reg. charity 1057213), supporting mental health and cancer research.

The Course

The course covers 5.7 miles of beautiful trail through woodland and nature reserve, those returning to the race can witness how the woodland trust has grown and matured since the inception of the event. After a winding start through Houghall woods, the course drops into the undulating section of the Durham Woodland Trust, climbing up to views over the River Wear and Croxdale Woods before descending to wildflower meadows and around to the Willow Lady. A single-track section along the bank of the River Wear leads to a climb up towards the Willow Miner, before traversing back to Houghall Woods and the finish. The route will be fully marked and marshalled.

Entries

Entries for the race cost £9, or £7 for attached club runners. Please visit our SiEntries page to enter.

Please note that to enter as a UKA attached athlete you must enter your own UKA number, available to look up on England Athletics’ site.

Event Details

Parking will be at the Graham Sports Centre (Maiden Castle), DH1 3SE as in previous years. Note that New Elvet Bridge in Durham is currently closed, which may affect your route to the event.

Toilets will be available inside the sports centre. It is likely that face coverings will still be required in order to enter the sports centre buildings. Depending on government and local restrictions on race day, showers may also be available and this will be made clear in the lead up to the event. 

Registration, start and finish have moved from the football field to the farm at Houghall College. This will be signposted and marshalled from the car park. Registration will open at 6pm. The specific start arrangements will be confirmed closer to the race date in accordance with current government guidance but we hope to be able to provide a mass start.

There is no required kit list, however the course covers some steep, muddy and uneven sections so trail or fell shoes are highly recommended both for grip and reducing the chance of ankle injuries. In the event of inclement weather a waterproof top may also be required. There will be space to leave luggage not needed for the race by the start.  

Sadly, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and uncertainty around restrictions, there has been no social event or post race food arranged at present while we work to deliver the best race we can, though water will still be provided at the finish. We hope to return to the after-race celebration next year!

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Mark Kearney Wins Hardmoors 110

Mark receives the winner’s sword from race director Jon Steele

Mark Kearney achieves a brilliant win in ultra-marathon on the North York Moors.

The Hardmoors 110 is a gruelling 110 mile race beginning in Filey in Yorkshire, following the cliff tops and moors of the Cleveland Way, and finishing in Helmsley. It includes nearly 15,000 feet of ascent. This years event began on Saturday 29th May, in sunny and warm conditions.

Mark completed his victory in 22 hours, 28 minutes and 30 seconds, more than an hour ahead of his nearest rival, reaching the finish line at nearly half past six on Sunday morning, after a day and a night on the hills. He received great running support on the way by Striders Michael Littlewood, Stephen Jackson, Georgie Hebdon, Stuart Scott and Elaine Bisson.

Jill Young and Simon Graham were, to quote Mark, “the best support crew I could ever ask for” making sure he was fed and watered and in top condition throughout the whole race.

Congratulations to Mark on a wonderful achievement.

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A New Chair

Ian Butler, Club Chairman

Today we formally wish to welcome Ian Butler as our new Club Chairman.

Ian is a proud Yorkshireman who has been involved in the operations of the club for some time now in his role as Training Coordinator.

Ian succeeds Jonathan Hamill who has now moved into the advisory role of Club President.

We wish both Ian and Jonathan the best of success’ in their respective roles.

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Captains Report 2020

Hello folks,

Last time we said it would be a while, and so it has been.

Reading over last year’s report truly brings home what a different world we are living in now. Anyone remember parkrun? Or that we did in fact have a cross country season? Even in these… ‘times’ (insert appropriate adjective), we are so very proud of our club and its heart, our club members. We have continued running, just in different ways and with adjusted objectives. Running Strong.

As always, it is so difficult to pull out individual highlights for fear of omitting other worthy feats however we feel a couple of people need mentioning who have completed particularly outstanding or perhaps just plainly ridiculous adventures. Beginning the year, Elaine Bisson pushed further than ever before to win the Montane Spine 100 mile Challenger (what next??). Segway to Stuart Scott: a Backyard Ultra on his treadmill – 108 miles in 26 hours in April followed by The Accumulator in May with Aaron Gourley (the number of miles ran each day to correspond with the date of the month, a total of 500 miles for the month) and in June a 24 hour run in aid of RT Projects.
Across the world (virtually, of course), Wendy and Ashley were amongst others in the club who ran the length of Tennessee… and back again to complete 1270 miles over the early summer. Maybe they fancied the holiday experience? No words to describe the endurance and strength of character each one of these challenges will have taken.
Alex Brown’s achievements are also worthy of note. Hitting his distance pb with the Hardmoors 55 (and looking exceedingly chirpy with it) was not enough, he then completed the Virtual Wooler Marathon (28.5 miles) just a few weeks later. Perhaps the PE department will stake a claim to poach him from the History department soon!
Continuing in the long-distance range, it was amazing to see Mark Kearney representing Striders proudly by winning the Punk Panther Ultra in lockdown conditions. He has certainly not let up on his impressive mileage and looks set to crack 4000+ miles this year. Only a very select group of Striders will achieve that in 2020.

Finally, no Captain’s report in recent years would be complete without mentioning ‘the legend that is’: Stephen Jackson. In running terms, Stephen has once again shown his talent by achieving the club’s 10k record with a time of 31:30 beating his own previously held record. Not content with this, he also beat the club record for HM with a time of 68:50 again beating his own previously held record. We are all aware that Stephen recently moved to run first claim for Sunderland Harriers. Elvet Striders will forever have your back Stephen and we wish you all the best as one of the most brilliant and gracious runners in the North East. Dave Shipman however, is delighted to retain the club’s mile record time!

2020 has been a year like no other. So many cancelled events, no team buses, club runs or parkruns. Camaraderie is such an important part of the club and this has not ceased due to lockdown (not the first, or the second). Seems like every week we have heard of our members completing virtual challenges either solo or with running buddies – we will still pretty much run any distance for a bit of bling (I hear Corrine has a lovely framed pictue of the A167 on her wall now)! Well done to all of those who have further and faster (or slower, or shorter!) in these circumstances, you are all built of stern stuff.

It is an old saying but still true. This club cannot function without its volunteers and we would like to say a huge thank you to our run leaders who have proved their flexibility this year by continuing to find imaginative ways to keep us going throughout, leading small groups and quality training sessions. Hear this: you are appreciated, and so much (it’s a gang that is always open to new members by the way!). Who could have thought a car park would become our main training ground, and special thanks to Michael (from Fiona, and the rest of us) for devising and running the sessions that soon became known as the ever popular ‘Theatre of Dreams’. Next year, look forward to the franchising and expansion to multiple locations, new coaches, new car parks, new dreams… (thank you Tamsin!)

Prior to this meeting Jonathan Hamill announced his intention to step down as Chairman of Elvet Striders, a position he has held since 2017. Jonathan has done an outstanding job leading this club for several years, from one turbulent situation to another. Being Chairman is a time consuming, difficult, and unpaid position, made only tougher through juggling full time work and the added pressures having a young family brings. We appreciate the not inconsequential effort and sacrifices you have made in devoting your time to the running of the club: they have not gone unnoticed. Thank you, Jonathan.

A personal note from Michael here, at the end of last year Elvet Striders lost an irreplaceable member, coach and friend. Allan Seheult first gave me any confidence in my running ability, I would run through walls for him. He epitomised Striders for me. The friendship, the generosity, the encyclopaedic running knowledge. So many of us benefitted from his kinship and support. We will never forget him. As 2021 beckons and the hopes of a vaccine develop, I am sure we are all wishing for the day that we can return to some form of group running and perhaps even cross country and elbows out (fingers crossed!!) When this happens, lets not get too excited and let’s remember Allan’s three points of sage advice: … Don’t go off too fast, don’t go off too fast and don’t go off too fast!

Thank you all, and here’s to the next year!

Fiona and Michael

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Saturn Virtual Remembrance Run, Saturday, November 7, 2020

Marathon

Jo Robertson (With Louise Collins)

It’ll be the last time Louise Collins ever messages me on a Thursday afternoon asking whether I was going for a long run on Saturday….. “For sure” said I, “fancy a marathon attempt?”

So the plan was made, neither of us having properly trained for it but after a run of races being cancelled, me wimping out of Langdale Half due to the weather and a fairly solid summer of training for not very much, it felt like the virtual Saturn Run was an opportunity for us both for a first marathon.

We started early, Louise in her customary tiki shorts and t-shirt regardless of the weather and me wrapped up for Jack Frost (with my snowstorm tiki’s on to boot). We had agreed a 10-minute mile plan which I was super keen for us to stick too. It was going to be a tough day as it was, for me, and Louise is a considerably stronger runner than I am, so pacing was going to be key to my success.

We had a brilliant time. Starting from Durham we followed the lines all the way to Bishop which although a bit dull did allow us to tick off a lot of relatively easy miles. We particularly enjoyed telling someone we were running to Durham – when we were quite clearly going in the wrong direction! Arriving at Kynren was a bit of a shock for us having not really known where we were for some time and a few stops for photos (including many poppies) followed.

I had planned three different possible routes and the one we chose was the flattest. I don’t know Bishop at all but the maps on my watch had us, and as long as we followed the map line we were good. I think Louise was questioning this as we embarked on quite a long climb up Durham Road which, for those who don’t know Bishop, is definitely not flat. Louise was a trooper and ran the whole way – pausing to wait for me to catch up each time! I think the hill took quite a bit out of me and I must admit around mile 15 I was quite head down. My right leg was hurting and it was feeling like hard work with a long way to go. Louise still appeared to be super fresh and it was probably the only time I was a bit worried this wasn’t going to be.

Thankfully we arrived into Spennymoor and to Louise’s parents waving flags and cheering us on. I think I was the one who needed and benefited from it more than Louise to be honest! It was an enormous pick me up and I actually felt my legs get lighter as we set off again. Onwards down Tudhoe Front Street and more support just as we hit 20 miles from Terry and my very excited children. My leg still bothering me but we were keeping pace really well and I was delighted to be able to confidently tell them we were going to make it.

Heading over to High Shincliffe via Sunderland Bridge we spent much of the last six miles telling each other we were nearly there, trying to calculate whether we would need the loop of High Shincliffe planned or whether the detour to Louise’s parents would be enough and continually looking at our watches. Neither of us wanted to have to do that extra loop and the sense of relief when we worked out we didn’t need it was significant. Maths like that at 23 miles in is pretty impressive too I think! Our pace was still really good but it felt like a very long parkrun home and we’ll both admit to hanging-on as we headed down the A177 – by this point comparing which parts of us were hurting the most. I would have burst into tears on the hill outside Maiden Castle if it wasn’t for the fact we were only 0.5m from the finish line but even then I had to walk it. Absolutely nothing left. The finish line did arrive though and the lamppost after the parking meter on Quarryheads Lane will never be looked at the same again by either of us.

Just a short walk back home including one of the steepest hills in Durham (sorry Louise!) but by then it was all done and we had finished bang on pace. Emma Piasecki nearly causing a crash on the A690 to pull over and give us a well-done cheer was the cherry on top of the cake.

It feels somewhat strange having a first marathon being a virtual one. We definitely stopped which you wouldn’t do in a race, but it does leave me keen to experience a proper one and see what’s possible with more dedicated training – we can only hope for races like that at the moment though. Having said that though, the team-work was so much fun and there is a heck of a lot to be said for shared experiences like that in this lockdown world. Thank you Louise.

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Ambleside Trail 60, Sunday, September 13, 2020

37.5 miles, 6955ft ascent

Rob Thirkell

My favourite domestic event of 2019 was the inaugural Brathay Ambleside Trail 60. It was a route of some 37.5 miles made up of three distinct sections. A fast, flowing trail up and over Loughrigg from Ambleside to Coniston was followed by a series of steep ups and downs for the next 20 miles to the foot of Grasmere Common. The final section was made up largely of road and hardpack to the finishing line in Rothay Park.

After so many cancellations, it was great to receive the news that the 2020 event was going ahead, despite the return to work from furlough of many of the Brathay staff just a month earlier. The weather this time around was very different to last year’s ‘Indian summer’ race. Registration was at Brathay Hall under a heavy and brooding sky. Ambleside Parish Council had ruled out the use of Rothay Park as a start and finish area which resulted in the longest and most technical walk to a start line I’ve ever encountered, at Lily Tarn, a ‘mere’ 20 minutes away up on Loughrigg Fell. I thought I had plenty of time to meander and take a couple of photographs. I made it to the line with a minute to spare!

The line was a three-square socially distanced grid to enable runners to start in groups of six at five minute intervals. Runners who expected to take longer than 10 hours had been asked to book a starting time between 7 and 8am. I had selected an 8.35am start, having completed the dry weather route in just over 8 hours in 2019. It was wet and very greasy underfoot on the rocky walk to the start so I now doubted my thinking after seeing only a handful of runners with later starting times including the likes of Ben Abdelnoor. There were four of us in the grid when the starting signal was given by the marshal and two of my fellow ‘competitors’ sped off into the distance as though they were in a 10k fell race and wanted to be back in time to shower and change before the pubs opened. Suffice to say I didn’t see them again.

The early flowing trails of 2019 were once again evident this year. I never recovered my form after last year’s event when I ran the last 5 miles hard but I went on to suffer with problems that a chest examination and thoracic X-ray didn’t clarify. A long October day out at Lakes In A Day – some 3 hours longer than planned – had been followed by a DNF at the Tour de Helvellyn in December. I resolved to take it easy this year and run well within myself, especially as my training plans for August were stymied by a hectic return to work since the end of lockdown. My pace of 10 minute miles during this lightly rolling opening section was comfortable and I felt pretty good. I had overtaken two runners in the first 10k but Ben Abdelnoor and a few others had floated past me. Running through the Tongue Intake Plantation, I guessed that I must be close to the back of the field.

The weather had actually done little to change the opening miles of the challenge although I did my best to make it harder by turning into some woods with fallen trees after a large route marker had shifted direction at a forest road intersection. I retraced and stopped to replace the tilting marker to prevent others from going the same way. My mind had been distracted by information coming from my Garmin. I’d put it in UltraTrac mode for the first time, to conserve battery life. It had suggested that I had clocked a couple of 6 to 7 minute miles, impossible for me at the best of times! I also began to doubt the distance information as I went on my way towards the beautiful balcony section of trail that overlooks Tarn Hows from the east.

The wind picked up and the rain started just as I followed the broad and elevated path. A glimmer of sun suggested it would ease so I kept the waterproofs stowed but it worsened dramatically as I began the first steep ascent of the day intersecting Coniston and Yewdale Fells. Another, brighter shaft of sunlight offered hope but it only brought a worsening in the weather – the mild start had also given way to some wind chill – so I donned the waterproof and moved on. Seconds later I ran into John and Gemma Wandless, a warm welcoming distraction from the hoolie. I was more than happy to chat for a minute, a natural break from the effort of the climb. I moved well to the high point and descended into Little Langdale where I made the first of numerous stumbles that were to become quite common during the next few miles. When my feet stop moving well, it’s usually a sign that I’m not at my best and I began to feel tired as I headed towards Blea Tarn.

The promise of the feed station at 30km helped my spirits even though I knew that it would be a limited affair with water, electrolyte drink and energy bars. The wonderful food that was on offer last year was a casualty of running a ‘Covid-secure’ event. The feed station at Skelwith Bridge had been dropped completely and the first one was much later at Great Langdale. A brief exchange with another runner – I was being overtaken again – confirmed that my watch was deceiving me. I had thought it was a kilometre to the feed station and it was more like five. The next three miles were a grind.

I was awful on the relatively flat section of The Cumbria Way to the foot of Stake Pass. Offering some salt to another runner suffering with adductor cramp, he recovered well enough to overhaul me soon afterwards. I was walk-jogging at this point. One heavy stumble, recovered just before a face plant beckoned, had tweaked my unreliable back and I popped a couple of paracetamol with a handful of plain chocolate coated ginger bonbons, a jam sandwich and a generous swig of electrolyte. As I began to ascend Stake Pass, a double equipment fail of my waterproof zip opening from the bottom and my pole belt detaching itself into a puddle around my ankles had me ready to throw the rattle, toys, cheating sticks and everything out of the pram. Right on cue, the wind and rain returned with a vengeance to scatter my frail state of mind across the fellside. A few minutes of faffing ensued and I gave myself a proper telling off. For goodness sake, the hardest part of the event was still to come, and then some.

Whether it was the energy rush or paracetamols (or both at the same time) I found a really good hiking rhythm up the unrunnable Stake Pass and crested the top completely rejuvenated. I overtook perhaps a dozen runners, en route to the next feed stop at Langstrath (40km/25 miles). Cold roast potatoes were an unexpected treat and the hiked ascent to Grasmere Common was a joy, especially so as I took time to look around back to the beautiful Langstrath Valley. Even a treacherously wet section of hand to rock adjacent to Lining Crag was enjoyable. This is the stuff that focuses the mind on efficiency and safety of movement rather than time and distance. Brownrigg Moss and the ridge to Gibson Knott was a fun-packed bogfest full of hamstring stretching leaps which tested my short legs to their limits. Although this section felt much rougher than last year, I enjoyed it more. After passing Gibson Knott, the clag remained high enough to see the approaching shape of The Howitzer atop Helm Crag. I remembered this as a key moment last year as the zigzagging, runnable descent of the Bracken Hause sits a few hundred metres before the summit of the crag where the transition from boggy fell back to trail begins and the final hardpack/road section of the Trail 60 beckons.

Happily running down the Hause, I arrived at a simple wooden footbridge next to the road which I promptly tripped over and almost went down again. No worse for wear, I happily jogged through Grasmere Village to the final feed station at 32.5 miles (52km). The hardpacked trail provides picture postcard views of the lake and is followed by a beautiful section along Rydal Water. I’m not known for my love of road running but I was more than happy to move on easier ground on the run in to Ambleside by the quiet lane under Loughrigg. I had called Sue from the feed point to say that I hoped to be at Brathay Hall within the hour. Just over 47 minutes later, I rolled in some 8 hours and 50 minutes after setting off, 35th out of 108 finishers. I was surprised to be 1st MV55 home out of 12 (3rd over 50/22). I was some 15 minutes behind the first overall vet 55, Catherine Musetti from Ambleside AC, who was also – rather wonderfully – 1st female.

Thanks to Sue and to John and Gemma for being at the finishing line supporting the runners coming home. John and Gemma had already put in a decent shift on the fells. Sue, as always, was at the finish and ready with my favourite post-race treat, two blocks of a plain chocolate Bounty!

The Ambleside Trail 60 is a super event which I can heartily recommend to anyone looking for a tough challenge that is shorter than the Lakeland 50. What it lacks in distance, it more than makes up for with a series of hard ascents and rough terrain amongst some of the most beautiful valleys and fells of The Lake District. Whether you are thinking of your first Lakeland ultramarathon or your umpteenth, this one is a great choice.

Event:- https://www.brathaychallenges.com/results/brathay-running/ambleside-trail-60

Results:- https://www.brathaychallenges.com/results/brathay-running/ambleside-trail-60/2020

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Esk Valley Walk – A Running Day Out!, Esk Valley, Saturday, September 5, 2020

Officially 37 miles

Nina Mason

I’d seen the Esk Valley Walk route a few months ago, and had been toying with the idea of running it, either over 2 days, or making it a more challenging single day out. This weekend, I opted for the latter, along with a night camping in the van with Adrian.

The route starts with a 17 mile loop (leg 1) from Castleton round and over the moors to the source of the Esk. Then there are 3 shorter ‘legs’ from Castleton to Whitby, generally following the river valley but wandering up and down either side. The terrain is a good mix of moor, grassy field footpaths, tracks and trails, plus a little road (though often with a soft grass verge to keep off the tarmac). As well as beautiful countryside the route passes through some of the prettiest villages in the area.

I decided to do this ‘solo’ and ‘unsupported’ – which basically meant carrying a large picnic, along with other essentials. I could top up my water from ‘natural sources’ – no problem considering my route. I downloaded maps and the route description from the website – the description in particular is excellent and easy to follow.

Adrian dropped me at Castleton just before 7.30am and saw me off from the start at the railway station; he was later on the pier at Whitby to see me finish. I am so grateful he’s happy to support me in my adventures, even when it means he misses his weekend lie in.

I thoroughly enjoyed my day out – the route is fabulous and I would recommend it as either a run or walk. The weather was good, plenty of sunshine, though a brisk breeze on the first moorland leg, and great views. I felt ok – legs tiring (as always, as expected) after about mid-20 miles but managing a relatively constant overall pace. And more importantly I was happy all the way, grazing through my picnic, drinking Esk water, and soaking up the scenery.

I didn’t race round – I was treating this as a fun day out, stopping to admire views and the interesting things on route. But hitting leg 4 and only 8 miles to go I thought ‘wouldn’t it be good to do this in under 8 hours’ – which culminated in a sprint through Whitby town centre to the pier, not recommended on a sunny, busy, Saturday afternoon!

My watch recorded 38.4miles and just under 3500 feet of climb, most of the ups being on the moors on ‘leg 1’, and up to Danby Beacon, with the rest of the route ‘gently undulating’.

Adrian and I camped that night just outside of Whitby, and I used my day out as a fine excuse for making the most of an enormous pub meal and bottle of wine – a good end to a wonderful day.

Route, maps and description https://www.northyorkmoors.org.uk/visiting/enjoy-outdoors/walking/esk-valley-walk

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Northern Saints Trails, Durham

Dave Robson

The Pandemic meant there were no events when the first lockdown restrictions were lifted so Melanie and I turned our attention to doing some long distance trails in roughly ten mile sections with a car at the start and end of each section.

We were particularly attracted to the new Northern Saints Trails http://www.northernsaints.com/ which were only developed shortly before lockdown started. Part of the interest was because four of the six trails finish at Durham Cathedral so we would not have to travel too far. The Northern Saints website has excellent route descriptions, but the gpx files aren’t very accurate, so below we have given links to hopefully more accurate gpx files which we have fine tuned as we ran the trails. Signage on the route is very variable, some routes have few or no signs, others aren’t too bad especially as you get close to Durham (when you need them less…). Also the signs (as illustrated) do not have an arrow on them like most public footpath signs, so when you get a junction and there is a sign on a post at the junction, which way do you go ? We made quite a few errors, but working out what to do next was part of the fun. Having OS maps on our phones was often our saviour and we enjoyed seeing sites we hadn’t seen before. The routes sometimes make small diversions to run past churches and we found a couple of diversions because of the pandemic and building works.

Way of Life 30 miles Gainford to Durham https://www.fetcheveryone.com/routes-view.php?id=1811763
Rolling hills and a runnable trail which starts at the village of Gainford to the west of Darlington and goes north to West Auckland, then Witton Park, Bishop Auckland, Buyers Green, Whitworth, Tudhoe, Low Burn Hall and Durham

Way of Light 46 miles Heavenfield to Durham  https://www.fetcheveryone.com/routes-view.php?id=1816311
Heavenfield is on Hadrian’s Wall north of Hexham and the route heads south to Hexham and continues on to the lovely Hexhamshire, followed by Slaley Forest, Blanchland Moor, Blanchland, more moors above Derwent Reservoir, Edmundbuyers, Castleside, Lanchester, Esh, Ushaw College, Witton Gilbert, Flass Vale, Durham. If you are only going to do one of these, do this one, it is stunning ! There is currently a high locked gate in Ushaw College but if you amend the above route to stay to the north of the main College buildings that will save you backtracking.

Way of Love 30 miles Hartlepool to Durham https://www.fetcheveryone.com/routes-view.php?id=1815142
This one starts by going up the coast and then through Hart, Castle Eden (but sadly not the Dene), Trimdon, Cassop, Old Durham, Whinney Hill and to the Cathedral. This twisty route has more old railway tracks than most of the other trails. There is a very overgrown nettle section before Trimdon Colliery, we would advise taking the footpath to the north !

Way of the Sea 40 miles Warkworth to Jarrow https://www.fetcheveryone.com/routes-view.php?id=1815796
You could start this one at Holy Island and follow St Oswald’s Way to Warkworth. St Oswald’s Way turns inland there and the Way of the Sea continues south along the coast via Blyth, Whitley Bay and Tynemouth to North Shields and across the Tyne on the passenger ferry and on to the finish at Jarrow. That links to the Way of Learning which starts from there.

Way of Learning 40 miles Jarrow to Durham https://www.fetcheveryone.com/routes-view.php?id=1816127
This is a more urban route and you pass the entrance to the Tyne Tunnel followed by a winding route past Temple Park and on to the Cleadon Hills to the coast at Seaburn, into Sunderland, Penshaw Monument, Houghton-le-Spring, Chester-le-Street and back to Durham via the Cuddy’s Corse route https://www.thisisdurham.com/things-to-do/cuddys-corse-p667231

Angel’s Way 31 miles Seaton Sluice to Chester-le-Street https://www.fetcheveryone.com/routes-view.php?id=1817189
The most urban route starting on the coast north of Whitley Bay. It joins the  Tyne Wear Heritage Way https://www.tynewearheritageway.org.uk/ for a while and then heads into North Gosforth and right into the centre of Newcastle, down Northumberland Street to the Quayside and past the Sage, on to Saltwell Park and then of course, the Angel of the North. Then off to the west towards Beamish and then back east to Chester-le-Street where you can join the Way of Learning back to Durham if you wish. There is currently a well sign posted temporary diversion from the route above because of house building at White House Farm near North Gosforth.

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