Montane Cheviot Goat Winter Ultra, Ingram Valley, Cheviot Hills, Saturday, December 2, 2017

55 miles

Stuart Scott

I’ve never written a race report before, however, due to the massive amount of support and well wishes over the last few days I thought that needed to change, so here is my report on The Montane Cheviot Goat.

As soon as I heard about this race I was intrigued, I logged straight onto the website, read all the information and instantly thought, there is no chance I’m not doing that especially in December and that was the end of it.

Fortunately, the organisers kept putting out info on it and then I heard my mate Andy Berry had signed up. He’s the guy who first got me into ultra running. He’s an absolute machine, but every time he’s completed a race, I’ve wanted to do it, convincing myself if he can do it so can I. Andy Berry is also the reason I’m attempting the Bob Graham Round on May 5th. Andy won the Cheviot Goat so I really should have found someone a little easier to compete with!

As I have been building up my fitness for the BGR, I’ve been putting in a lot of training, including heading down in the middle of the night, on a few occasions, to meet random fell runners and BGR enthusiasts I’ve met through online forums etc. I’ve also trained quite a bit with Scott Watson after being massively inspired by his successful BGR attempt earlier in the year. It’s just as well I have been training so hard as I would never have completed that course without it. I’ve completed a 50km ultra and two 69 mile runs previously but they were nothing compared to the mental and physical challenge of the Cheviot Goat. Anyone thinking about it for the future really needs to appreciate this and read other people’s reviews of the course that can be found on The Cheviot Goat Facebook page.

As the event was approaching, the weather forecast just seemed to be getting worse and worse with fog, gale-force winds and temperatures of -5°c with a wind chill of -20°c being reported. To add to my concerns, I’d read on a couple of Internet forums that many thought the event was way harder than people were expecting and a lot of people were going to feel way out of their depth and really struggle. This was not what I needed to hear before my first winter ultra!

The day before the event I was trying to eat as much as possible with plenty of porridge, brown rice, chicken, pasta and sweet potato with a load of water to wash it down.

My plan was to head up to a hotel just near the start at about 6 pm to ensure a good nights sleep but I didn’t end up setting off till after 8 pm and then had to go and register and collect my race number. It wasn’t as busy as I had expected, as many failed to register due to the weather! I ended up getting to the hotel at about 11 pm but the mattress was far too soft and the heating was far too hot, so I only ended up with about 4 hours sleep, again not ideal.

I had to be at the start for 4.30am for kit check and safety brief with the race starting at 5.30am. I felt really fit and strong until I saw the others lined up who made me feel out of shape. We set off bang on time with everyone wrapped up tight with head torches blazing. I felt great at the start but my confidence ebbed a little at the first water station when I didn’t stop and found myself not knowing where to go. The course is totally unmarked and I took the lazy mans option of just following those in front, this strategy worked fine when there were people I could see in front! After rummaging through my various pockets for a minute, I dug out my map and compass and from this point on my map stayed firmly in my hand.

The first few miles were on low lying ground with very little snow, but as soon as we started to climb this changed. Before long we had a good foot of snow to deal with. I was feeling great at this point and knew I was quite near the front of the field, as I could only count about 8-9 sets of footprints in the snow. Brilliant for my navigation, as my new technique was just to follow the footprints. The other benefit of being in the position I was, was the fact the front runners were acting as a snow plough. If I managed to position myself exactly in their footsteps, the going was nowhere near as hard.

The snow had drifted quite a bit in places but I was still able to get a bit of speed up on the downhill sections. Quite often you didn’t know what you were stepping onto but at least when you did fall it was just into soft snow. My waterproof socks were a godsend at this point, as they have a wetsuit type effect. When the water gets in your feet heat up the water so they never really get too cold. I never noticed my feet being cold all day despite the conditions.

After the first section of deep snow it thinned out and the sunrise was absolutely amazing. Myself and the woman I was running with, at this point, talked about how stunningly beautiful it was and what a fantastic feeling it was to be running there. I ended up leaving my running buddy not long after this conversation and shot off down the mountain feeling absolutely king of the world. The feeling I had at this point has only ever been achieved, for me, whilst running in the fells.

A little further along the route, I could see two guys operating a drone on top of the hill I was heading to. I never know what to do when I’m being filmed, so couldn’t decide to look serious, cool and focused or just shout woo-hoo and put my arms out as it hovered above. I think I went for an option somewhere in the middle and am really looking to see that bit of footage when I was on such a natural high.

The next bit was a bit of a blur until we were nearing the halfway point and all I could think about was the rice pudding and can of coke I had in my drop bag. There was quite a climb just before the food station and one guy caught me up and then shot straight off up the hill leaving me standing. Soon after the guy passed me, I turned to see the woman I had been running with at sunrise also catching me up and it’s lucky she did, as I’d dropped my buff while searching for Haribos in my bag and she kindly retrieved it for me. We got talking again. She asked my name then introduced herself as Carol before we started talking about how well our mutual friend Andy Berry was running at the min. We talked about some other races and she mentioned ‘The Spine Challenger’, a 108-mile winter ultra, to which I said there was no chance I would ever enter. I asked her about it and she said she was running ‘The Spine’ race after doing it last year. That thing is 268 miles! I asked if she did well in it, to which she replied she got a good time. I later Googled the race and found out my running buddy was Carol Morgan who smashed the woman’s record in The Spine race last year by 43 hours!!!!

When I got to the halfway point I was greeted with a hot cup of chunky vegetable soup and a bread bun, but all I could think of was my Coke and rice pudding. I ripped open my drop bag and nightmare the coke and rice pudding were missing. I must have put it in the wrong bag! After the soup and a nice bit of cake, I headed out with a Snickers in my hand determined to eat it, as I knew I needed it, especially after having missed out on the rice pudding. I think I carried the Snickers for about 3 miles before I finally got ¾ of it down but it was hard work and I just couldn’t finish it.

The next section was starting to get tough, as tiredness started to kick in and I never saw a single person for miles. At this point, I was so focused on moving forward and watching the ground I got a big surprise when I looked up and saw the most amazing view of the sun setting behind it. The happiness of seeing the beautiful sunset was short lived as I suddenly started to worry about running in the dark once more. I can remember thinking at this point I have about 22 miles left, so that’s only two ten milers and a bit of a parkrun or a great north run and 3 park runs and that’s not too bad.

There was a water station at about 40 miles and it was great to see. Whenever you reached a station or a marshal, they came to great you and gave you a round of applause. It was great seeing them after such a long section without seeing another soul. I can remember joking with them about the takeaway and beer I would be enjoying in a few hours whilst they were still out there.

I really started to slow down after the 40-mile station and the great north run plus one parkrun I had left started to seem like a lot greater a challenge than I had initially hoped. I soon started the climb up to Cheviot and it seemed to go on forever. I think one mile took about 33 min’s and yet again I found myself in deep snow. This was probably my lowest point of the race mentally and physically, as I was just so tired and making very slow progress as darkness fell. I can remember thinking, if it starts snowing or raining heavy, am I even going take make it. It was at this point I considered ringing my wife, but I knew how worried she would get, so I didn’t. If I didn’t have a tracker with an emergency button on it I would have been extremely worried at this point, as I hadn’t seen another runner in hours. They don’t call this race the most lonely for nothing!

I really wouldn’t recommend ever being in that sort of situation without a GPS tracker, a phone and all the proper kit, If a storm had come in at that point and I’d lost my bearings I don’t know if I would have even made it back!

The snow made the very last of the light last longer and I waited until I couldn’t see more than about a meter before digging out my head torch, buff, thicker hat and waterproof trousers. The wind was also getting up at this point but I instantly felt better as I warmed up in my full kit.

As I plodded on up The Cheviot I started to contemplate missing out a section of the course, just to give me that extra chance of making it to the finish. There was a checkpoint about 1km from the summit and the course brought us up around the trig point then down the same route. It just seemed so harsh making us go that bit further to come down the same path. I remember asking the marshal exactly how far it was to the summit, even though I had a map in my hand. I honestly think if he’d said two miles I would have just missed it out. He reassured me it was definitely only about 1km so I continued on.

I can remember thinking at this point I wasn’t even bothered if I missed out part of the course, as all I could hear was the organisers saying you all know your limits so don’t exceed them and I felt right out of my depth at this point. I think the only thing that kept me going was the fact that I didn’t want to hand my race t-shirt back. We had been given them at registration but I’d already decided I’d hand it back if I didn’t complete and I really didn’t want to do that after everything I’d been through. Never before have I been bothered about a race t-shirt but this was no ordinary race.

After reaching the trig point I got a massive boost from somewhere and felt great again. On my way back down to the marshal I passed 4 or 5 runners (the first I’d seen in hours) and made a real point of assuring them how great they were doing and it wasn’t much further to the top. Suddenly the possibility of finishing was back on!

After passing the marshal for the second time there was quite a long downhill section however, the problem was that the snow was that deep you had to, sort-of, skip down the hill and you had no idea what was under the snow. Every now and again you shot down to your waist in the snow, due to a hole you had no idea was there. I spent a good while shaking out my jacket trying to get rid of the snow that had made its way up my back as I’d fallen

As I passed the 45-mile mark, the thought of another 10 in these conditions was an absolute nightmare; three park runs all of a sudden seemed almost impossible! I knew I needed more energy but just couldn’t bring myself to eat any more sweet stuff and the thought of a gel made me feel sick. I will definitely be packing a lot of savoury snacks on my BG attempt. Luckily I still had a load of high-energy mountain fuel in my water bladder so I just drank as much as I could and powered on.

As I neared the bottom of the downhill from Cheviot, I could do nothing but walk and it’s not a good feeling knowing you really should be taking full advantage of the downhill but just couldn’t. I can remember looking back at this point and seeing two head torches slowly catching-up on me. I was so jealous I couldn’t make the most of the downhill like they were. When that first runner passed me, he was the only one to have overtaken me in twenty miles, but it’s a good job he passed me when he did, as not long after he passed, his foot shot down through the snow and became completely stuck under a rock. Luckily for him, I was right behind him and was able to give instant assistance digging him out. We quickly dug away at the snow and he started to shout. His leg was going into cramp. Once all the snow was removed, we started digging out the soil and found that his foot was wedged between two rocks, thankfully one wasn’t too big and we were able to dig it out and free his foot.

The above incident really brought home the extremities of the conditions we were running in. What if the other runner gaining on us had already passed me and my foot had got stuck and nobody was there to help me? I could easily have been stuck there freezing for 30 min’s plus before another runner caught up. If I’d been unable to move, I would have got very cold, very quickly. I did have the GPS tracker with an emergency button, however, due to the remoteness of the location, I couldn’t see the Mountain Rescue being able to get there anytime soon and that is a frightening thought!

After many thanks from the freed runner, it was time to start the next climb, get these final few miles out the way and get the hell out of there. I could see a tread cut out of the snow on the line the runners before me had used, however, I just didn’t have the energy to use it. There was a fence running right the way up to the summit on my right, so I just chose to cling onto that to use it as a handrail most of the way up. The problem with using the fence to pull myself up was nobody else had used that line, so I was cutting through deep snow most of the way up, but I felt it was worth it.

Reaching the top of Hedgehope was an amazing feeling as I was now in the final section of the map. I now knew I would make it and I could keep my t-shirt. I had pretty much given up all hope of running any of the course from here but amazingly my body kept finding that little bit extra and little runs broke out here and there.

With about 3 miles or, as I was thinking, only one park run left, I was walking very slowly and bumped into two guys who worked for an adventure film company. They were making a film about one runner’s story and build up to this race and they offered to walk with me. This was fantastic and I will always be grateful to them. These guys were the first people I had really got to talk in hours. I have no idea what I was babbling on about to them but just having others with me at this point was a massive help.

By this point, a few runners were catching and passing me so I just followed any lights I could see. The downfall of this lazy man’s option became apparent, once again, when it transpired a couple of guys in front had gone the wrong way and I had just blindly followed them. Luckily we didn’t go too far off track and again I was reminded of the importance of good navigation.

With about one and a half miles to go, I started getting excited that the challenge was nearly over. The film guys took a call and I couldn’t be bothered to wait as they stopped to talk, so I just left them, without so much as thanks or goodbye. I feel really bad about this now but was just so focused on finishing at the time.

With about one and a half miles to go my recently changed spare head torch battery died and I was left trying to run in the dark. There were a few runners a little way in front but I soon lost them as I just couldn’t keep-up trying to run without a light but I knew I was on the home straight now.

I came off the fells and onto a road within striking distance of the finish but had no idea of my bearings and couldn’t see my map as it was too dark. My phone was in the bottom of my bag but I couldn’t be bothered to dig it out to get to the light, so I just started running on the road with no idea as to the direction I should be travelling. On reaching a junction I didn’t know where to go. A car passed which I tried to flag down but they mustn’t have had anything to do with the race and drove around me and left me standing waving like crazy.

I was in a massive dilemma now. Do I just continue on in a random direction, as I know the end is a few hundred meters away, or go back to try and find another runner. I wasn’t thinking straight and just wanted to run in any random direction but then started thinking, what if I accidentally take a shortcut and get disqualified. I couldn’t risk having to give my t-shirt back now! Of course, the sensible option was just to stop and get my phone with a built-in torch out, but my brain just wasn’t working properly, so I went for the option of shouting a long list of swear words as I ran back up the road to where I had left the fells. Thank god two runners were just coming onto the road as I got back. I ranted at them for a minute about what had happened to me whilst following them back up the road I now knew well and over the finish line!

A small group came out to applaud us as we finished and there were many congratulations from fellow runners and race organisers. I collapsed into a chair and swore blind to buy a drink for any person I ever see in any bar wearing a Montane Cheviot Goat T-Shirt!

The pain in my feet was unreal as I pulled my trainers off and I could hardly walk over to my bags to retrieve my clean warm dry clothes. I pulled my fresh clothes on and called my wife, so happy to proclaim, I had finished and was still in one piece. As I sat there waiting for some feeling to return to my feet, I started sorting through my bags and instantly found my rice pudding and Coke in the top compartment of my drop-bag. It had been there all along…..gutted!

This race is by far the hardest ultra I have ever run, it pushed me to the max both physically and mentally and although I swore never again at the end, I cannot wait to beat my time next year!

Thank you to everyone in the Striders who has helped me improve my running, as I would never have completed this run without your help!

Anyone interested in seeing the relive video of my run can find it here:

Relive ‘The Cheviot Goat’

Windy Nook Inaugural parkrun, Saturday, December 2, 2017

5km

Andrew Davies

First Striders at Windy NookI’ve been trying to be ‘Great North Done’. That’s what everyone calls it when you’ve run all the parkruns in the North East. What do you mean you’ve never heard of it? It’s not like I’ve just made it up!

It’s all the parkruns from Druridge Bay down to Darlington. There are 23 now, I think. I might count Catterick and Northallerton as bonuses.

After finally getting to Gibside last week (which is great by the way), I only had Druridge Bay for the set. I’d even got to the sneaky new one at Newbiggin not long after it started. That’s another good one, as our captains will testify to after today, I’m sure. Coincidently I bumped into Paul and Dylan Swinburne there, as I did today at Windy Nook. Yep, another new North East parkrun. We’re spoiled for them up here.

I rolled over in bed to see how many more hours I had to luxuriate when I noticed it was 07:58 and my 07:30 alarm had failed! Luckily I’d got my uniform ready the night before, as if I was a school kid, and was dressed in minutes and out the door before 08:20. This gave me plenty of time to do the 25-minute trip to Gateshead.

The postcode (NE108XU) sends you to Whitehills Community Centre where’s there’s space to park. From there you need to walk 500 yards through a housing estate to Windy Nook Nature Park. The organisers emphasised how we shouldn’t park in the housing estate to avoid annoying the residents. There was free tea and coffee in the Centre after. I expect it won’t always be free.

There was a lot of snow and ice left around the North East and Facebook was peppered with parkruns being cancelled. Luckily not Windy Nook. Coincidentally, my Daughter was supposed to be playing footy at Hill Top School half a mile away but that was cancelled too. The course is not far from Wrekenton XC so that should tell you what to expect. The snow had turned to slush which flowed down the paths and turned the off-road bits into slippy bogs. I’d packed my fell shoes but made the mistake of wearing my brand new Brooks instead. They’d be fine for this course normally but not today.

I was expecting lots of tourists from the cancelled runs. There were 215 runners, in the end. I suspect this parkrun will attract around 150-200 most weeks, but what do I know?
The organisers did a great job welcoming everyone, explaining the route and bad conditions and to expect some hiccups.

The course is complicated. At least it was today. There was a hiccup and we went the wrong way on the first lap (I’ll have to go again to be sure). It’s a three-lap course; you start and finish at the same point. Before the first lap, you set off around a small path loop in the wrong direction then you start the laps. Halfway around, there are 14 steps. But there are two sets of steps in the park and we went up the wrong ones first-time, I’m sure. The real lap has a long wood chip incline with the real steps and a muddy bank. It’s great to do it three times. It’s not as bad as the inclines and hill at Flatts Lane but the mud made it almost impossible to run up today (in Brooks).

Windy Nook is not a PB course. I was saving myself for Sunderland Strollers Half on Sunday and I took nearly 28-mins. I’ll be going back to get under 25 minutes soon. But I don’t think I’ll get very far under.

It’s a fine addition to the ‘Great North Done’ set and all the Striders should get there soon before any more parkruns appear (I’m looking at you Kerry in a Peterlee type direction).

Border Harriers 66th Brampton to Carlisle 10 mile Road Race, Sunday, November 19, 2017

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

Jonathan Hamill

Running the Strider funnelAlthough some may not see the appeal of a wintry run along main and minor roads which are not closed, I relish the prospect of this, the oldest 10-mile road race in Britain. Slick organisation, a net downhill course (albeit with a few negative decline challenges!), friendly atmosphere and the lure of a carvery afterwards – what’s not to like? As B2C is a firm favourite on the club GP calendar, this also ensures a good purple contingent.

Last year I had a good run, which left a time of 1:20:33 to beat. My plan this time was to nudge just under 5 min/km pace, which would break 80 minutes. Above all, I told myself to avoid the error of my ways last year – setting off like a scalded cat, which caught up with me later in the race.

There had been some planning ahead of this day in the spectator department too – my Son Patrick was really looking forward to spending the day with Lewis, and watching the racing. The Strider bus weaved along the countryside to reach Brampton and upon arrival at the William Howard School, there were earnest discussions about the prevailing conditions, and whether long or short sleeves were the order of the day. I settled for my club vest but with the comfort of my gloves, beanie and as I’d had a niggle in my left calf, my fetching compression socks.

Compulsory posing (Mr Hart)After the team photo, we moved towards the start on Longtown Road. Having been before, I knew to expect a ‘surprise start’ – the road closed at the last minute, and a starting pistol fired rapidly to despatch some 500 runners on their way.

The first stretch downhill with a sharp right turn to join the Carlisle road has a habit of encouraging a bit of an overly keen pace. This year was no different, and as I ran along for the first 4 km or so at ~4:30 min/km with Graeme Walton, we remarked on how we had diverted a little from the plan. I knew the climb up to the Newby back road would settle me down, and it did.

As I ran along these minor roads, thanking the volunteers on my way, I reflected on the remarkably dry conditions compared to the wading experience of the 2015 race. Natalie was in front of me and provided me with a purple vest to keep within my sights – try as I might, however, I could not catch her.

Through Low Crosby, we re-joined the A689 towards Carlisle. I knew there were a couple of undulations to come, and I told myself to keep calm – last year I’d developed a horrendous stitch in the last 2 miles which had been hard to recover from.

Bobble hat brigadeI could see the houses on the outskirts of the City, and pressed on. To my left and ahead, I started to see the River Eden, and finally the Eden Bridge. I passed Andy and Mike who spurred me on, just before the final descent to the Bridge. On the Bridge, I was determined not to let the chap in front beat me, and to my left, I saw a welcome sight of two bobble hats – Patrick, and Lewis. As I got closer I realised this was a Strider funnel, and I gave it everything I had left to get ahead of the white shirt in front. I rounded into the finish funnel and smiled from ear to ear – job done! A hugely enjoyable race, with a PB of 1:15:37 and well done to all Striders who ran!

Probably the best post-race carvery in the worldNo medals for this race – I think I got a pair of socks in 2015, a lovely coaster last year which is on my desk, and this year’s prize was a race mug. Thanks to the organisers who also let Patrick and Lewis have a mug each for their cheering efforts.

 
Position NumberNameCategory Position Time
1527Robert Danson
(Wesham Road Runners & Ac)
M150:06
28344Sophie Cowper
(Rotherham Harriers And AC)
F156:24
22406Stephen Jackson54:45
64420Michael LittlewoodV4091:00:27
73301Matthew Archer1:01:11
103459Phil Ray1:03:50
21223Michael BarlowV40341:11:44
230507Graeme WaltonV45281:13:09
253309Natalie BellL371:14:54
267382Jonathan HamillV40361:15:37
300386Peter HartV40401:17:44
312315Jean BradleyL6011:18:58
364366Mark Foster1:21:40
366480Chris ShearsmithV40441:22:02
427318Alex BrownV45491:25:39
432475Lisa SampleL35241:26:20
506492Debra ThompsonL50161:33:01
558512Karen WilsonL45331:46:16
562353Sophie DennisL1931:47:25
573494Margaret ThompsonL6551:59:45

Aykley Heads Cross Country – A view from marshal point 18, Saturday, November 18, 2017

Tamsin Imber

Sarah, Emil and I stood at our marshal point the top of the hill, just before the entrance into the woods. We were as ready as we could be! Two layers of everything, high vis, Sarah’s flask of tea, and food. All would be needed for this four-hour stint. Alas, I had not been able to locate my camping chairs from under my neighbour’s pile of stuff in the shed, but never mind, it was probably too cold to sit down between races anyway!

The kids’ races had been lovely to marshal and to cheer them on. I saw Oscar and a few kids from junior parkrun. The organisation of the emergency system was tested out as a girl in the Under 15’s race threw herself to the ground halfway up the hill and lay on her back! The response from a nearby spectator to summon a medic was immediate. Luckily all was well. As soon as she saw the medic rushing towards her she leapt-up, springing to life, and continued running up the hill! It had just been a power nap!

It was nearly quarter past one. Sarah had gone off to the start area. From our viewpoint, Emil and I could see the start area and tents in the distance. We saw a HUGE crowd of runners gathering near the start of the senior woman’s race! We waited in suspense. Bang! And they were off! It was like watching a handful of stones that have been thrown into the air, in that some were moving off faster than others. Interestingly, after a very short distance, the runners at the front of the pack seemed to spread out a lot quicker than everyone else. Was this because they had more space? Was this because they had planned a fast start? …?

The pack ran around the top of the field and then disappeared from our sight over the brow of the far hill. I was surprised at how long it seemed before the medium pack were started, and then again at how long it was until the fast pack were started. Normally it feels like thirty seconds when you are waiting to start yourself but from the position of a relaxed marshal, it was all a bit different! Once the fast pack had disappeared from sight, it all went a bit quiet from that direction, and Emil and I waited in suspense! When would we see the head of the first runner coming into view?! I suspected that this hill from a runner’s perspective would be long and gruelling! Sarah and Emil were both running today so were going to have to become additionally ‘at one’ with this hill by the end of the day!

When the first runners came into view it was brilliant!! Very exciting! Especially as Laura Weightman ran past and I’ve only ever watched her run on the TV before! There were two runners in front of her. I wondered if Laura Weightman was just biding her time. I wondered if she feels pressure to win every Cross Country race and if so, how does she cope with that?

Much better than that though was seeing Sally charging up the hill in fourth place!! Totally Awesome (please leave the capital A)! And then more and more Striders! In fact, as a whole, every single Strider was way up in the field! Fantastic running from everyone! Everyone was putting in their all! Brilliant, brilliant efforts all round! We heard the cheers from the finish area as people started and continued to finish. Well done all of you!

Emil then left to get ready for the men’s race. I had a silent ‘disco for one’ to warm up. Sarah returned in due course, and after some recovery hot tea, she was ready to marshal again. The men’s race started perfectly on time. There is a lot of them compared to the woman’s race! In fact, from a stationary point, it is like watching one of those very long goods trains go past! On lap one they were fresh and determined. On lap two it was clear on their faces that they were feeling the pain, but still giving it their all. On lap three they had renewed strength, perhaps from the fact it was the final lap! Maximum respect. I would like to try three laps to see if I can also get through the punishment of lap two! I really enjoyed cheering everyone on. Everyone ran brilliantly! As with the woman’s race, the front of the field was as spread out. Is this because it is a pursuit race and people have yet to be moved up? It was interesting to watch. And Sally’s friend was super impressive, …he was lapping people on his third lap!

As the race came to an end my hands were stinging from clapping and I was craving central heating. But it was brilliant to support and be part of it, and to see everyone try their best! Massive well-done Striders! You should be proud!

Tour of Pendle Fell Race 4830′, AL, Barley Village, SW Pennines, Saturday, November 18, 2017

16.8 miles

Paul Evans

‘I’ve not yet done the full course, so back next year it is.’

Photo Courtesy of Phil Donlan

So said I, two years ago, after the Tour was shortened due to inclement weather (for a fell race, this takes a lot), shortly before developing an unhealthy relationship with work for the next year, with far too many hours spent behind a desk and training tailing off somewhat, along with any motivation to run. The extra stone or so, as a result of this inactivity and a love of bacon, was not exactly helpful either.

Instead, let us forward two years, to now, minus 36 hours, when I stood back on the line (actually, tucked somewhere halfway down the field, safely away from the pointy end), ready for the hammer to drop on this compact, punchy East Lancs race: conditions excellent (cold, clear, blustery but no rain), field sizeable (c400) and Strider numbers one (plus an ex-Strider now running for Kirkstall Harriers). I’d had my porridge at a suitably ghastly hour, had found actual toilet paper in the toilets and was full of tea, so all was basically good. Better yet, earlier XC fixtures at Wrekenton and Druridge had even seen the return of something that felt like competitiveness, which boded well.

The race begins with a fairly flat mile on the reservoir track, primarily to permit the field to spread before turning due north up the slopes of Buttock, onto Pendle Hill. This passed quickly, with a degree of mild frustration when trying to pass slower runners, until I reminded myself there was a long way to go and a lot of it would be spent walking; this indeed occurred shortly, with the first climb being a run/walk affair until the contour lines began to space out and permit a steady pace to be achieved up to the trig at CP1, the high point of Pendle Hill (in case you’re wondering, the entire race is essentially an up-down affair of one hill, the hill only being 558m in height). The top was wet but runnable, and the leg down to CP2 was a delight, what with being able to see this year, all of it downhill and none of it steep – 2 miles of pleasure, with only the wet ground at all hazardous (reader, we had bottom/ground interface for the first time when ambition trumped ability in an over-taking attempt), then another easy half mile to CP3, hand-railing another reservoir.

Photo Courtesy of Phil DonlanThe fun was now over, and we needed to climb sharply through slippery mud and bracken, then back onto the
moorland; this was slow, but profitable in terms of places, and I crested ahead of those who’d come past me on the way down. I then saw them again as they flew past me on the infamous ‘Geronimo’ descent, which started slowly, got faster as I gained confidence and finished sliding on my posterior, stopping just short of the stream of Ogden Clough (CP4); this was 2 climbs and descents of a total 6 accomplished, and it was starting to hurt, though the field was beginning to spread and I was gaining one or two more places on each climb or flat section than I was losing. I’d also acquired some blood on my right hand and face (another runner pointed this out), though was unclear how.

Through the stream and sharp left, we ran single-file along a narrow, rocky path towards the headwaters, then crossed it again and made a shorter climb that was actually runnable for the second half (another place gained) before dropping gradually, at proper running pace again, to CP5, legs loosening and enjoying the chance to stretch out. Up again to CP6, another left off the top, with yet more descending like a crab/ball/a.n.other thing incapable of running in a straight line on feet, and it was onto the final two climbs, those missed off the bad-weather course of two years ago. Going back onto the top to CP 8 started well, though the horror of concave slopes is that they get harder the closer you get to the top, so the first hundred or so yards were fine, unless you raised your eyes and looked up at the grassy wall in front – the one peppered with dots of colour, all moving slowly upwards. I would say that everyone was suffering by this point, but realistically the winners were nearly home by now, so that would be untrue; the rest of us were firmly in ‘hands-on-thighs’ mode, though I managed to steal a place or two by getting hands-on and essentially crawling upwards, hitting CP 8, embellished with a massive union flag blowing in the wind along with the waterproofs of the well-wrapped marshals.

Photo Courtesy of Phil DonlanI now knew we had half a mile of running on the flat top of Pendle, another descent, a final climb and then home for tea and cake. It played out essentially that way, with me holding my place on the top, dropping a couple on the downhill section (a few little crags on this one, just to keep you on your toes), then working as hard as possible, again with hands-on-grass, on the last uphill, knowing this was the last chance to push for places – in the event, I gained half a dozen or so, and hit CP10 (at the trig passed on the first leg) opening my legs desperate to hold whatever slim advantage had been gained in the last 15 miles. The leg to CP11 was the reverse of the initial leg, but a little to the west – grassy and downhill all the way to Ogden Clough, easy running and probably fun were it not for the competition. It hit me here that I wanted this place, wherever in the field I was, and that the competitive urge largely absent for a long while was back – I would probably not resort to knee-capping other runners to hold my position (this isn’t XC, after all!), but I’d not dismiss the idea out of hand…idle thoughts aside, I had breath in my right ear and the vests of Bowland, Todmorden, Rossendale and some club in red ahead of me, all of them possibly catchable. Some, on the reservoir road that makes up the final mile, were caught, others were not, and some who’d not been in sight initially were chased fruitlessly as I got closer – there was even an approximation of a sprint finish, entirely in vain as I was never going to make up 30 yards on someone who was themselves only 20 yards from the line.

That, then, was that – the line crossed, a ‘well done’ from the time-keeper and handshakes with those in front and behind me for a race hard-fought, whilst drinking from the jerry-cans of water set out for runners. 17 miles done and a category AL race in the bag, for the grand cost of £9. As things stand, writing this on Sunday evening whilst wearing the race T-shirt that the organisers throw in), I don’t actually know my finishing time (3hrs-ish?), nor my position (top half?), but am satisfied they couldn’t have been a lot better on the day in what is always going to be a hard race, no matter the conditions: six times up and six times down a hill that’s not that high sound so much easier than it actually is.

Gibside Fruit Bowl, Sunday, November 5, 2017

7 miles


Pos.Bibno.Finish time Chip time Participant Category
161346.442.58Kurt Heron
(Ashington Hurst)
MS
3360850.5350.49Gemma Floyd
(Unattached)
FV35
1032746.446.39Michael MasonMV40
2055348.5948.57Mark WarnerMS
321750.4550.43Matthew ArcherMS
963157.4757.36Michael BarlowMV40
10447358.558.41Tim SkeltonMS
11055259.0859Louise WarnerFV35
11756259.3759.32Conrad WhiteMV60
126860.0459.53Robert AllfreeMV40
14214861.1461.08Sarah DaviesFV50
1494661.3161.02Natalie BellFS
18732864.0663.57Rachelle MasonFV35
18914764.163.54Andrew DaviesMV40
20650364.5964.43Malcolm SygroveMV50
21033065.2865.15Tim MatthewsMV50
2323266.4566.33Stephanie BarlowFV40
2476567.467.31Jean BradleyFV60
26545968.4368.06Jenny SearchFV40
26623368.4768.15Lesley HamillFV45
2702686968.43Jane IvesFV45
29358270.5970.49Anita WrightFV55
32544372.1771.43Jill RudkinFV40
34447574.1174.02Alan SmithMV70
35515974.4174.27Jayne DickensFV45
of 527

Harrier League, Aykley Heads, Durham, Saturday, November 18, 2017

women
posbibnamecatpackrace timeactual time
1657Laura Weightman (Morpeth Harriers & AC)FsenF28:3025:10
6456Sally HughesFsenS29:4829:48
9412Emma ThompsonFV35M31:1829:38
20446Louise WarnerFV35S32:4232:42
26462Susan DavisFV55S33:1233:12
30429Juliet PercivalFV45S33:2633:26
32410Elaine BissonFV35F33:2930:09
51458Sarah DaviesFV50S33:5633:56
56452Rachelle MasonFV35S34:0334:03
71451Rachael BullockFsenS34:1934:19
811249Zanna ClayFsenS34:2534:25
1021168Natalie BellFsenS35:0635:06
103395Anna BasuFV40S35:1035:10
129414Fiona ShentonFV55S35:5135:51
151449Nina MasonFV40S36:2336:23
152461Stef BarlowFV40S36:2436:24
156399Camilla Lauren-MaattaFV50S36:2836:28
169423Jenny SearchFV40S36:5836:58
220459Sarah FawcettFV55S39:0539:05
261466Victoria JacksonFV35S40:4340:43
268397Ashley Price-SabateFV40S41:0341:03
273420Jan YoungFV65S41:1241:12
276392Aileen ScottFV45S41:2041:20
322468Zoe Dewdney-ParsonsFV35S45:5645:56
332401Carol HolgateFV45S47:1747:17
men
posbibnamecatpackrace timeactual time
11764Sebatian Anthony (West SuffolkAC)MU20S36:2036:20
33518Mark WarnerMV35S41:1241:12
40546Stuart ScottMV35S41:3341:33
125523Michael LittlewoodMV40M43:4241:12
133508James LeeMV40S43:5143:51
170524Michael MasonMV40F44:3139:31
194503Geoff DavisMV60S44:5544:55
217532Phil RayMV35M45:2442:54
241510Jerry LloydMV50S45:4545:45
259506Jack LeeMsenM46:0543:35
277507James GarlandMV40M46:2743:57
342536Robert AllfreeMV40S48:4848:48
343517Mark PayneMV35S48:4848:48
345490Daniel MitchelMV40S48:5348:53
346483Andrew RaynerMsenS48:5448:54
363540Simon JeffersonMV40S49:3849:38
390522Michael HughesMV50S50:3350:33
423547Tim MatthewsMV50S52:0752:07
427533Philip ConnorMsenS52:1652:16
4381621John MetsonMV60S52:5252:52
440514Malcolm SygroveMV50S52:5552:55
459493David BrowbankMV35S54:2054:20
469481Andrew DaviesMV40S54:4854:48
472501Emil MaataMsenS54:5854:58
5131620David TothMV45S58:2658:26
524478Alan ScottMV50S59:2559:25
530542Stephen EllisMV60S61:0561:05
533479Alan SmithMV70S61:5761:57

Harrier League: Aykley Heads, Saturday, November 18, 2017

This Saturday is a major fixture in the Harrier League. The third fixture of the season will be held at Aykley Heads. The weather is forecast to be cold, bright and dry. It promises to be a good day.

Whether you’re racing, marshalling, watching or supporting, the following information should be useful.

Course map (thanks to Jules Percival)

Aykley Heads course map courtesy of Jules Percival

OpenStreetMap view (from marshalls walkthrough on 11th Nov)
Total distance: 2.2 mi
Max elevation: 312 ft
Min elevation: 210 ft
Total climbing: 230 ft
Total descent: -223 ft
Average speed: 22.35 min/mi
Total Time: 01:09:57
Download

To see this map with the marshall points marked have a look at this attackpoint map or this Google pdf map.

Note:The section between marshall points 4 and 5 is part of the race route only, and is not normally open to the public.

Race Parking is at Durham County Hall car park only. It’s free and only 400m from the start – please do not park anywhere else, please do not try to park closer to the course as you will be charged, or worse, and we could lose this venue! There will be plenty of parking for everybody at County Hall but please car share.

THERE IS RESTRICTED USE OF ONE SECTION OF THE CAR PARK THIS YEAR – ONLY THOSE INTENDING TO LEAVE BY 2.30PM MAY USE THIS SECTION SO PLEASE OBEY THE CAR PARK MARSHALS!

There is no parking in the DLI car park this year.

Officials Parking: This will be on the tennis courts adjacent to the new Police HQ. Go north from the County Hall roundabout on the B.6532, turn right at the next roundabout, straight over at the next roundabout & then follow the signs.

Tent drop off We have a tent drop off point adjacent to the course. Go north from the County Hall roundabout on the B.6532, turn right at the next roundabout, straight over at the next roundabout & then follow the signs. Only use this if your tent is very heavy! There is absolutely no parking for competitors here and it is not a drop off point for latecomers. Tents must be left with the tent drop off marshals and competitors return to County Hall to park.

Registration is adjacent to the course in the tented area (look out for Vicki’s big blue tent) – unless the weather is very bad and then it will be in County Hall reception area (Micky Baker to confirm).

Toilets are located in County Hall foyer and there will be portable toilets close to the race start area.

Do not enter County Hall in muddy shoes – they won’t let us come back next year if you do!

The course is walking distance from County Hall car park (follow the signs) & is on the former Durham Constabulary playing fields.

Directions to County Hall (postcode: DH1 5TP)

County Hall is a major landmark in Durham and many of you will already know where it is and how to get there. There are frequent trains to Durham from Newcastle and Darlington. The station is around half a mile from the venue. Please use public transport where possible!

If you must come by car then directions are as follows (please note that due to the Lumiere festival of light taking place in the city there may be traffic restrictions in place including eastbound lane closures on Millburngate Bridge.


Travelling south (e.g. from Newcastle):

Use the A.1m and turn off at Junction 62 (signposted for Durham & Sunderland). At the top of the slip road turn right at the roundabout joining the A.690 into Durham. At the next roundabout (where the dual carriageway ends) stay on the A.690 & follow signs to City Centre & Consett (straight over). At the next roundabout stay on the A.690 & follow signs for Crook, Consett & County Hall (straight over – but get in the outside lane). At the next traffic lights turn right signposted for Consett, Chester-Le- St & County Hall. Turn right at the next roundabout into County Hall – you’ve arrived!

Travelling north (e.g. from Darlington):
Use the A.1m and turn off at Junction 62 (signposted for Durham & Sunderland). At the top of the slip road turn left at the roundabout joining the A.690 into Durham. At the next roundabout (where the dual carriageway ends) stay on the A.690 & follow signs to City Centre & Consett (straight over). At the next roundabout stay on the A.690 & follow signs for Crook, Consett & County Hall (straight over – but get in the outside lane). At the next traffic lights turn right signposted for Consett, Chester-Le- St & County Hall. Turn right at the next roundabout into County Hall – you’ve arrived!

Travelling west (e.g. from Sunderland):
Use the A.690 from Sunderland or from the A.19 for Durham. At the junction of the A.690 and A.1m go straight over staying on the A.690 into Durham. At the next roundabout (where the dual carriageway ends) stay on the A.690 & follow signs to City Centre & Consett (straight over). At the next roundabout stay on the A.690 & follow signs for Crook, Consett & County Hall (straight over – but get in the outside lane). At the next traffic lights turn right signposted for Consett, Chester-Le- St & County Hall. Turn right at the next roundabout into County Hall – you’ve arrived!

Travelling East (e.g. from Crook):
Use the A.690 from Crook to Durham. At the Neville’s Cross traffic lights turn left onto the A.167. At the first roundabout turn right (4th exit) following signs for City Centre. At the next roundabout go straight over. At the next roundabout go straight over into County Hall – you’ve arrived!

Dublin Marathon, Sunday, October 29, 2017

Marathon

Stephen Lumsdon

Back in late April this year I had never run a competitive 10k, so on a whim (or act of drunken foolishness), I decided to test myself to become a marathon runner within a shortish space of time and signed up for the Dublin Marathon. Within the space of 2 hrs, on that day, I’d signed up, booked a hotel and flights, so I couldn’t change my mind and back out.
Come June, I began to follow the 80/20 marathon training plan and, to be fair, everything went very well, until the Tuesday before the marathon when I woke up with a chest infection and heavy cold. After 48 hrs of intense remedy treatment (hot drinks, paracetamol and running to sweat it out), I felt better, but I was running the marathon no matter how I felt.

I arrived in Dublin on the Friday evening, minus some of my Iso gels, due to forgetting about the 50ml-liquids-on-flight regulations and the very efficient airport security staff at Newcastle!

I checked in to my hotel, about 15 mins walk from the start line. Saturday morning I ran a little leg loosener around St Stephen’s Park (had to be done).

The remainder of Saturday I went to the marathon expo in my Striders hoodie and collected my number and signed the memory wall. After that, I browsed some museums and galleries to take my mind off the next day and my family and friends began to arrive in Dublin.

I awoke Sunday very early, had breakfast and went through my stretching routine and continued to read my marathon plan (I wrote down a plan and a number of quotes to help me get around). Off I went to the start line for 8.30am. My wave started at 9.30 and despite a cloudy and chilly start, by 9 am the sun came out and it warmed up very quickly.

I decided at that point I would run the first miles with the 4h 50m pacers (the marathon has pacers up to 5h). I went through the start line at 9.31 am and the temperature was 16 degrees C, so much for an autumnal marathon and cool temperatures.

Miles 1 -3 out of the city centre start towards Phoenix Park and I was running with the 4h 50m pacers, miles 4-7 the field had settled and began to spread out, still with the pacers I went through 10K in 1h 7 mins and felt comfortable.Miles 8-13 I caught up with the 4h 40m pacers as we went around the park and then on to the streets on the outskirts of Dublin. 13.1 mile at 2h 17m, and still with 4.40 pacers.

Miles 14-18 felt ok early in this stage and got ahead of pacers by about 1 min per mile, pace-wise, but with the weather, temperature and amount of fluids and food required, I began to feel it at about 16 miles. I decided to slow it down and began to consume the free jelly sweets, Jaffa cakes (other orange based chocolate sponge cakes are widely available) and cheese, kindly being offered by the people of Dublin (although I refused the sausage rolls!), as well as taking on as much liquid as I could stomach and using the remainder of my Iso gels. Also at this point, my watch died on me, despite being fully charged. Not the first time that’s happened – new watch required Santa!

Miles 19-23 the route back towards the city and up ‘Heartbreak Hill’. Still with the 4.40 group and feeling the soreness in the top of my right calf at this point. I refused to let it make me stop and I wasn’t going to give in, despite now being past the 20-mile mark (my longest previous distance).

Mile 23.1 Pacers announced ‘Park Run to go’ and anyone fancying a go, to give it a go from now. So as with Vale of York in September, I decided to ‘give it a go’ and left the pacer group and headed for Dublin city centre.

The run-in is quite flat and becomes very straight at 2 miles to go from Ballsbridge to City Centre. I continue with my push to the line, the crowds get bigger and noise increases from this point and by now I forget my calf pain and just push on. 1 mile to go, I up my pace a bit more and tell myself 9 more minutes. The crowds are large and the noise from them and music is louder, so it’s better to soak it up and continue my stride length. 800 metres to go, keeping it steady and no sign of finish line. Around the corner (well crossroads), 400 metres to go I decided to crank it to flat out and I am passing people towards the line and finish across the line and complete my first ever marathon on 4h 36 mins 35 secs, I reckon the last 5k is around 28 mins. Average mins per mile 10.32.

The feeling when I crossed the line and upon finding my family and friends is quite euphoric. After collecting my bags, off back to my hotel for a bath, shower and then back into Dublin for food, Guinness, Champagne and craic.

Overall Dublin is a great marathon. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s very well organised and the volunteers and people of Dublin are very friendly. A special note for the pacers. They were not just good at pacing, but also at talking you through the course, when to take on fluids, gels etc and how to approach each difficult part of the course mentally as well as physically.

In summary, I came to Dublin with a plan on how to execute it effectively; I would like to think I followed it very well. I was very pleased with the outcome of the weekend and becoming a marathon runner.
Monday – I was in the hotel with my Striders hoodie on and a lady came over to talk to me about how she used to work in Durham and regularly would see Striders out running and at Durham Park Run. So I think we will continue to seek world domination for people of purple.

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NEMC Mo Charity Marathon, Newcastle upon Tyne Town Moor, Sunday, November 5, 2017

Marathon

Kerry Barnett

Continuing my quest to complete 50 marathons/ultras before I’m 50, I signed up for the North East Marathon Club charity marathon; all entry fees are donated to the Movember Foundation.

Run on the same day as the more commercialised Mo 5k and 10k’s at Newcastle’s Town Moor, our event started at 8 am so we were finished before the larger races in the afternoon.

A very early start, picking up another runner from Durham,  myself and Rob set off at 6:30 am on Sunday morning, to be sure we were there in plenty of time. We were indeed. Traffic is very different at 7 am on a Sunday morning…. Arriving at Claremont car park at around 7:15 am, we sat in the car for a while as the boathouse wasn’t opening up til 7:30 am. It was very cold; not windscreen scraping cold, but still around 3 degrees C.

Arriving at Claremont car park at around 7:15 am, we sat in the car for a while as the boathouse wasn’t opening up til 7:30 am. It was very cold; not windscreen scraping cold, but still around 3 degrees C.

Bundled up in around 5 layers, we made our way over to the boathouse to collect our numbers and moustaches (mandatory kit to start the marathon). Visiting the loo and stripping down to running gear, we lined up (all 39 of us), all hoping to complete varying amount of 5k laps around the Town Moor (with an additional 2k at the beginning to make 26.2 miles if you completed 8 laps).

Yes, 8 laps of the exposed, windy, cold, Town Moor. I’ve run on the Town Moor before, but never more than 10k at a time, so I’m thinking its pretty flat, but make no mistake, when you’re doing the same undulations time and again they become more troublesome. Also, because of the Living North Christmas Fair, we had 2 road crossings each lap, as well as the 3 gates which we had to open and close ourselves. It wasn’t an easy course!

The first 2k was a dream, pretty much, because it didn’t actually go onto the Moor. My moustache didn’t even last this short lap due to the need to blow my nose, so off it came and into my pocket. I did, however, see a few moustaches around the route at later laps.

The real work started. The first half marathon I kept to a strict 3-minutes running, 1-minute walking, strategy, which worked well. This took me pretty much exactly 2:30 and that was the first 4 laps over with. I was pretty pleased and still feeling good. My fuelling strategy, with a shot block every lap, was keeping things under control and coke at the start/finish/lap area was lovely too.

Now the hard work really starts. It’s still cold, the wind is picking up on the exposed Town Moor and traffic is picking up at the Christmas Fair car park. Luckily, our coaching coordinator, Anna Seeley, laps me at this point. With her own troubles to think of, she completes lap 5 with me. It’s nice to have company. It’s a desolate place the Town Moor. A small marathon like this has no support on the route, except for Rob popping up here and there to cheer me on. We run/walk and chat lap 5 away and now I’m onto the last 3 laps, which are really tough. My right hamstring keeps ‘pinging’, the wind is getting stronger and I’m envious of the people who can keep running into that wind which slows me to a brisk walk. I’m doing 2:1 on the Moor, then 3:1 back on the road around the Moor back to the lap point. Coming up to lap 6 and Rachel, who is tracking the laps, says ‘2 to go’. I know this isn’t right because I’m only at 17 miles, so I correct the chart and keep going.

Lap 6, Rob joins me to keep my spirits up. He’s in his jeans and waterproof jacket, which probably looked pretty incongruous to see us going around the lap. He’s good company and soon another 5k is ticked off. Now there’s 10k to go. Really, really tough work. Walking a lot of the time on the Moor and putting runs in when I feel I can, then back to the 3:1 on the road part again. Rob has stayed at the lap point, getting his shorts on ready to join me on my last lap. I’m going to need all the encouragement I can get now. My hamstrings are tight, my hip flexors are tight, my glutes are tight, my lower back is suffering from pushing against the wind.

So last lap with my number 1 supporter, Rob, is down to lamp posts. Run 1, walk 1 over the Moor into the wind, once that part is over, it’s run 2 lamp posts, walk 1. Where there are no lamp posts, it’s 50 steps running then 20 walking. At least this way I know I’m running more than I’m walking and consistently moving forwards, There are loads of people arriving for the Mo runs now, and apparently, lots of them turned up to our little outpost thinking it was where they needed to be.

Coming up to the boating lake now for one last time. It’s nearly over. I’ve gone past the 5 hour cut off. I’ve missed a PB, but it’s done and the lovely NEMC folks have kept the finish open for me. I’ve finished my 23rd marathon, collect my moustachioed medal and finally sit down for a cup of sweet tea.

The NEMC raised £1000 for the Movember Foundation which is fantastic.

That was hard, and I’ll be running another Town Moor Marathon in 2 weeks – same people, different route. Hopefully less wind next time!