After taking a bit of a step back from “racing” following some disappointing (to me!) times, I have been choosing my events very carefully – shunning the majority of popular races. I took part in the Clive Cookson 10k in 2017, gaining a PB over the distance of 56:04. I felt it was time to give this another try, having not completely hated it the first time. I love this race. It is so underrated. A two 5k lap course with the first 2km on a very gradual (but noticeable, particularly on the second lap) climb, rewarded with some lovely gradual down, through country lanes and then housing estates… The support is fantastic for such a small event – very few places on the course where there is nobody cheering you on. I think there were maybe 10 striders in attendance, not that I saw many of them because they were all the speedy ones who would have already left the carpark by the time I had done the first lap. It always amazes me that more Striders don’t attend this race – this year it was even a GP fixture!! My aim for this race was a PB, which I guess is usually your aim if you are entering a race. My 10k time stood at 54:09 from Tees Pride in 2017. Lots of calculations and looking at the last time I ran it to try and establish what pace I should be attempting to run at to get in under 54 minutes. It seemed crazy that I would need to run 5:22km average pace for 10kms – training runs have been much much slower over shorter distance and I had always convinced myself that couldn’t be good. Nevertheless, I turned up, managed to pin my number on in the most crooked fashion yet, then got to the start. I started quite near the back, as I knew we would start the climb straight away and “don’t go off to fast” rings in my ears. On a chipped course, I like to start quite far back, as the ability to pass people works wonders for my confidence. I soon realised that I was passing people (even uphill) but nobody was passing me – this instantly gave me my focus – don’t let anyone pass you. I kept this up for most of the race, losing only 2 places around the 7k mark (both to men, so I wasn’t too bothered), but it wasn’t made easy for me! A Derwentside AC runner was on my shoulder, pushing hard to pass me around 6k, but I kept my focus and she dropped back – more confidence!! My km times were good – except for the 2kms uphill, they had all been well under target. The confidence felt amazing – I felt strong, my legs were fine and at no point did I feel I wanted to stop. My brain was kind to me, and never once uttered “you need to stop Jo, you’re tired and rubbish” which is normally loves to do! I was even high-fiving kids and there are pictures of me smiling. Maybe I wasn’t trying hard enough…
Around 9k, I was catching a lady in front of me – she was running well but I knew I only had a km to go so I pushed on and passed her. Clearly more familiar with the course, she zoomed past me with about 600m to go – this was so frustrating after my “don’t let anyone pass you” mantra. Luckily the absence of our beloved track sessions hadn’t removed my ability to kick and with shouts of encouragement from Matt, I made up the gap and finished 12s in front of her! With a new PB of 53:16. If you’ve never tried this race – put it in your diary for next year.
Our website host is carrying out a system upgrade of our server overnight 22nd/23rd May. The upgrade will begin just after midnight (Thursday 23rd 0030) and take a few hours. The website and our e-mail addresses will be unavailable during that time. The general club Yahoo! e-list will be unaffected.
If you have trouble sleeping you can keep an eye on progress on the status page.
Any race report which begins with the above statement usually means lots of complaints and whinging about the event. I can’t fault the event, the route or anything else. I simply had a bad day.
Anyone who has ever ran a Hardmoors event will be aware why they are called ‘Hard’moors. They are not easy events, nor are they designed to be. The North York Moors is not flat and each event in the series comes with bonus miles to give you more value for your money, or so Race Director Jon Steele says. I could have done without the bonus miles at this event. On second thoughts, the bonus miles weren’t too bad. It was the main event I struggled with.
Starting at Chop Gate Village Hall on a glorious sunny day I wasn’t sure how the day was going to go. I have been struggling recently with a series of ‘niggles’. Nothing that quite constitutes an actual injury, just niggles. Right knee, left hip, right ankle, one of them always seems to want to give me some discomfort. Joining me today was my friend and former Strider Bill Ford. Bill has been struggling with an actual hip injury and had dropped down from the full marathon distance to the half to see how the day went. We were never planning on running this event together, and I, expecting to be somewhat quicker than Bill took his car key off him so that I could collect our bags from it at the finish. Joining us on the start line were fellow Strider Jane Dowsett, who was also struggling with and injury, and Durham Mum on the Run Yvonne Collingham. Shortly after 10am we were off.
The start of this race is the hardest start of any race that I have ever taken part in. A 30-meter sprint to a stile (I just walked because of the queue to get over it) and then a 700-foot climb up hill (Approximate Figures from Strava) for the first 1.2 miles. I felt good during this climb and although my heart was pounding I was maintaining a good stride walking up the hill.
Once at the top you begin a steady and enjoyable run downhill (mostly) to the Checkpoint at Scugdale which is around 6 miles in. This was probably the most consistent running I did all day. I found myself overtaking people on this stretch, and whilst maintaining a consistent pace began speaking with a group from Glossopdale Harriers who had travelled up from the Peak District to run this event as a group. I was set to pass, then be passed over and over by this group throughout the day.
Leaving the Checkpoint I started ascending Carlton Bank, before entering the woods. I probably should have been running, however a mouth full of Jaffa Cakes picked up at the Checkpoint prevented that, and by the time I’d successfully devoured them it was too late to run. Up the Steps in the wood, out of the wood and up, up up. Some running did occur on the top before the first of the technical descents.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with what a technical descent is let me summarise; lots of uneven rocks / stones forming a path / steps down the hill. Steep downhill running isn’t my strong point to begin with. Throw in uneven ground and steps and, well, you get the idea. The fast guys seem to simply grace over terrain like this, not worrying about turning an ankle or going over. Me, I’m 15 plus stone, not exactly in the best of shape, being light on my feet is not a feature I possess.
A cautious steady stumble had begun to the bottom and into Lordstones. Descents such as these really take it out of your knees and quads, at least they do mine. I was feeling the climbs in my legs and still faced the ‘Three Sisters’. I had my water bottle refilled at the bottom. I’m not sure if it was an official checkpoint or just a nice lady with a jug of water.
Once again on ‘runnable’ ground I proceeded to run to the bottom of the first of the ‘Three Sisters’ Cringle Moor. Running is a term I use loosely as my legs simply weren’t loving life. Jogging, perhaps? More likely just shuffling.
Up and over Cringle Moor, followed by Cold Moor and finally Wainstones. The first two of these are essentially a tough climb up followed by a tough technical descent with no room for any actual running to occur. The third of the ‘Three Sisters’ and the one which the race is named after the Wainstones does allow for a short amount of running on the top but not a great deal. After going up and down the first ‘sisters’, scrambling through the Wainstones whilst watching some guys climbing them (think ropes and helmets) my legs had nothing left in them. I can’t recall actually running any of the top before descending to the checkpoint and road crossing at Clay Bank, about 12 miles in.
At the checkpoint, feeling tired, I made a huge mistake.
Whilst having my water refilled I was asked by the Marshal if I’d like some electrolytes in it. I stupidly said yes, and she dropped half a Zero tablet into my bottle. Now I regularly take Zero Tablets, just not whilst I’m running as I have found they upset my stomach. On I pressed eating Jaffa Cakes whilst ascending the last real climb of the course up Clay Bank, sipping my Cherry Zero infused water as I went. As I reached the top I remember greeting a marshal with a few select swear words that really shouldn’t feature in a race report. My comments weren’t directed at him by the way, just the course and my condition in general. He took it all in good spirit and said, “Well done, You’re nearly there”. I suspect I wasn’t the first to mutter similar at him.
The next three, yes, three, miles were all pretty good in terms of being able to run, I however was not. I started running but the niggles were kicking in, left hip, right knee. All bearable though the real damage was going on inside. The Zero in my water was now making me feel sick, running and shaking it all around inside was not a nice sensation. I adopted a run walk strategy on a part of the course I really should have been comfortable running. I pushed on though thinking that I was still ahead of Bill, Jane and Yvonne. If I was finding it this tough, how were they finding it with their actual injuries.
Mile 15 to 16 is all downhill back to the finish, it wasn’t a particularly steep descent either so should have been runnable. I however was really starting to struggle, the pain in my right knee was hurting presumably just from all the impact of the descents and I was still feeling sick each time I ran. I mostly staggered my way downhill to the road which brings you back to the village hall and the finish. I crossed the stile onto the road and with the finish in sight proceeded to run. I might be hurting, feel sick, and not be in a good place but I was not going to just walk into the finish.
I’d finished. 4 Hours 30 according to my watch. I’ve ran marathons faster. This was a real tough challenge with not a huge amount of running in the middle. I was exhausted. Then I heard a voice.
“Where’ve you been like?” It was Bill. “If I’d know you were gonna have a nightmare I’d have kept my car key”. Bill had dropped out at half way, his hip injury causing him pain. All my thoughts of at least I’m ahead of Bill and haven’t been passed by Jane had been pointless. Bill had been sat round waiting for at least an hour, and Jane finished about 5 mins after me. If the race had been 17 miles and not 16.5 I’m sure she would have passed me too.
I haven’t seen the official results yet, but at least I (think) I can take away the claim of being the first Strider home in the Half. Mark Kearney had to go one better and win the Full Marathon, probably in less time than it took me to do the half. Bloody show off!
Back in 2009, with a few Great North Runs under by belt, I thought I might fancy London one day. I think it was still 5 refusals, then you get a place back then, so I threw my name in the ballot with a long-term plan. Surprisingly I got a place first time! But it wasn’t to be, and I had to defer a year. By April 2011 I had a 2-month-old baby, so marathon plans were shelved for a long time…
I planned that once both kids were at school, I would run a marathon and I really wanted this to be London. A chance conversation with Allan shortly after joining striders alerted me to the Championship route of entry which would involve a half marathon PB. Brass Monkey 2018 was the goal race. Training went up to a regular 25 miles per week and I achieved my goal last January.
Later in the year I asked Allan if he give could me some marathon training advice and his support and guidance has been invaluable. I worried about how I would stick to a plan and how on earth was I going to train 6 days/up to 50 miles a week? Where there’s a will, there’s a way and I thoroughly enjoyed all the training, even the 5am runs! Hip niggles early on also led to some great advice from Neil at Platinum and I enrolled on their Sports Fit classes, sacrificing one run a week for some much needed strength and conditioning, meaning I reached the start line ready to go!
My sister, Laura, also got a place for London. As race day approached, we decided we had the same goal times in mind and were definitely going to run together on the day for as long as it worked. We both had a dream of finishing together hand in hand, but at the end of the day, if one of us was fading, we were both driven to get the best time possible, so we would split up.
My husband, children and parents all came to London. The Saturday before was not the most relaxing – we opted for a boat tour, so I could spend some time off my feet, but our well-planned pasta tea was very delayed with grumpy kids… (and grown-ups!!).
Our travel to the start was also stressful – the first 2 trains to the start were packed and we misjudged our place on the platform. 3rd time lucky we were on our way to the start and the atmosphere was great, chatting with all sorts of different runners.
We finally found the Championship entry changing area and were thrilled to see the short portaloo queues (to be honest, when Allan mentioned Championship entry and their own start area with their own toilets, that sold it!!). Feeling a little out of place (we snuck in just a minute or two under the qualifying time) we got ourselves ready.
The walk to the start just behind the elite men really gave us goosebumps. Before we knew it, we were off! Don’t go off too fast, don’t off too fast, don’t go off too fast. Laura works in miles, kilometres for me. This meant we had even more frequent pace checks. We worked together reigning each other back.
It felt very comfortable until 20 miles. We smiled, we chatted, we laughed – even a spectator commented as we went past “they’re loving it”. Shouts from our cousin (unexpected), Laura’s friend, our parents, and Lesley and Phil really kept us buzzing. The noise on the course in places was unbelievable. We had to shout to talk to each other! Michael had mentioned 17-20 miles as being really tough – we felt smug when we reached 20 and felt so good, our pace started to quicken. Laura asked after a couple of km if we could keep it up “I don’t know” was my unhelpful response.
Around 23 miles it started to hurt. Laura declined my first suggestion she should leave me – she thought I might get through it, although she noticed the chat had stopped. Around 24.5 miles I said again for her to go on – this time she did. I hung about 10 metres behind her for a few hundred metres then put my head down and just focused on keeping going. I was soooooo tempted to walk, but knew my legs wouldn’t get going again. My pace slowed but only to our original pace plan when I did check – even watch checks pretty much stopped as I just focused on keeping going.
I was disappointed not to see my husband and kids at 25 miles – I really needed a pick up at that time, especially my little boy with his “GO Mrs Thompson” sign (why so formal I don’t know!!). It was also a mistake not to have my last gel as planned before this, in retrospect I needed that energy.
The last kilometre was LONG. When I finally turned the last corner, I did manage to pick the pace up. Our goal time had got quicker during our training as we got stronger. We both wanted to finish under 3:15 and our little dream had been to finish together in 3:12. Laura got over the line in 3:11:56 and had to wait until 3:12:58 to see me finish.The pain in my legs hit pretty quick and I was a bit of a sight walking to meet Andy and the kids!
London was AMAZING. So happy to have done it, especially with my amazing sister by my side for 24.5 miles of it! Really pleased with my time and the pacing early on was hugely beneficial as, even with slowing down in the last stages, I was still overtaking lots of people. My first negative split! Now to plan the next one….
I am delighted to announce the appointment of Anne-Marie Fisher to the role of Web Officer, Editor/Publisher.
Anne-Marie has a keen interest in marketing/social media and has a background of working with WordPress from teaching her students. She has also, more recently, used other web design software – Serif, Adobe etc. and is familiar with the functioning of websites.
Please join me in congratulating Anne-Marie and supporting her in her new role.
Formally known as the Anniversary Waltz, this race is now hosted by Cumberland Fell Runners following the sad passing of former organiser, Steve Cliff in 2018 who set up the race to commemorate his wedding to wife Wynn at Newlands Church in 1996.
This race, along with its angry sibling, Teenager With Altitude (TWA) is firmly established in the Lake District’s fell racing calendar so it would have been a great shame for them both to disappear following Wynn’s decision not to host them anymore.
The GP results have now been updated with the results from Dentdale (L3) and Guisborough Moors (M3). The next GP event is the Pier to Pier on May 19th. An explanation of the Elvet Striders GP can be found on the GP page.
This particular event was marred by a reported large number of competitors running using someone else’s bib number, and in the top 30 women’s finishers, 5 were men (not from our club but one was from another North East club).
Bill has asked for support from local clubs and I’ve been in touch with him to reaffirm our commitment and support to highlight this topic.
Our club line is that we play by the rules, including only endorsing legitimate and proper transfers. There are medical, fair competition and inconvenience issues.
There are also sanctions for the individual and the club which we take seriously. We have agreed that we will seek opportunities to drive improvements in lobbying race organisers (with the support of other clubs) to put in place more appropriate transfer provisions.
With our own events (e.g. the Willow Miner Trail Race) we do our bit to illustrate good practice with a lenient transfer policy, and special measures such as spot checks. In perspective, I know that we are held in high regard as a club who play by the rules, which is to our credit.