NEHL5 Thornley Hall Farm, Saturday, February 10, 2018

Nick Latham

Courtesy of Joanne PattersonBrutal and brilliant – two adjectives for the North East Harrier League cross-country race at Thornley Hall Farm. All right, brutal may be overstating it a bit, but “quite hard” doesn’t alliterate and isn’t as catchy.
This race was a first for me in many ways. Having joined Striders a couple of months ago, it was my first race as a Strider, my first outing in a Club vest and my first cross-country race. I’ve done plenty of road and trail races before but this was new territory. Cross country was always the punishment, sorry, PE lesson that many of us dreaded at school. Now I’m much older and a little wiser, I reckon that if it’s good enough for current and past pros (Mo Farah, Paula Radcliffe, Charlie Spedding, Julian Goater etc. etc.), it’s got to be good for all of us.
I’d arranged to travel with Anna Basu and Roz Layton and was grateful to share the short journey from Durham with them. Parking wasn’t the trauma I’d feared and we arrived with plenty of time to amble along to the top of the race field and find the tent.
I was realistic about my expectations going into this race. I looked at the results from the previous year and had a good idea of where I would likely come out even if it was a road event and it was unlikely I’d be contributing to the scoring. Regardless, I went out determined to race as hard as I could regardless of the (lack of) impact I might have on the results.
We had a good turnout for both teams, with more men arriving as race time approached. The weather was cold but with no rain; there was a chill in the wind, but that seemed to die off while we were waiting to get going; a big blessing. With a fair amount of rain, sleet and snow over the previous weeks and several hundred pairs of feet covering the course before us, it was distinctly “soft & sticky” underfoot. Or a bogfest as our Chairman so elegantly put it on Strava.
The course was also being run in the reverse direction to 2017. One of the marshals thought this would make it easier. I still don’t believe him. The reversed course put a short, sharp grassy uphill after the first couple of hundred metres. Don’t they always look worse from the bottom than the top? The route was both a blessing and a curse – it was great to have the Club tents right at the top of this climb, with loads of encouragement, but that meant I ended up pushing into the red for each of the three laps.
I promised myself I wasn’t going to do it, I wasn’t going to fall into that newbie trap that Mike Barlow and I were talking about beforehand…but I still set off too fast. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who did, but by about half a mile into the first lap I was feeling dreadful – my legs were like lead and I didn’t feel like I could push on at all on the flats and downhills like I’d intended. Sweeping down to the southern part of the course we hit the first of the real mud and I’ve never run through anything like it before. It sucked all the power out of my legs and this proved harder to me than any of the hills. I realised then that I was going to have to adapt my tactics if I was going to avoid a DNF.
I decided that I would do something I hate doing on any run and that’s walk. I allowed myself, provided I contained it to the worst sections and still kept moving as fast as I could. I quickly noticed that anyone who was passing me (other than the fast pack) wasn’t really going much quicker anyway and by keeping my heart-rate in check I could pick the pace back up again when the gradient eased and I would pull away from them again.
The first lap (is that only the first one?) felt like purgatory. Somewhere around the middle of the second lap, either my changed tactics started to pay off or the endorphins finally kicked in; I started to feel better and could push-on harder outside of the uphills. I settled into the ebb and flow, frequently swapping places with a couple of runners from Blackhill and Blyth plus our own Philip Connor. As we headed into the last half mile, I could see Andrew Davies about 12 places ahead of me across the field – too far to make up by that point – but was second in our cluster of four behind the Blyth runner.
I’d sussed on the previous laps that the mud on the final descent was sticky enough to hold my feet so I could pick up speed down into the finish funnel and this allowed me to get away from the other three. I dug into the last of my reserves and made sure I wasn’t going to be caught on the run-in. From the noise, there was a great crowd of purple & green support at the finish and that gave me the boost I needed to wring out the final effort. I don’t remember seeing anyone, I was so focused on reaching the line. I also didn’t see what happened to Philip but he broke clear of the other two to come in a few seconds behind me.
Anna and Roz were waiting when I came through the tapes. It was brilliant to see friendly faces to welcome me back. When I felt up to it we strolled back to the tent to find some very welcome goodies (thank you to those who brought, I’ll know for next time).
In the end, we had 22 men running and I led in the (incomplete) D team as “first” counter, placing 336 out of 414 overall and bang in line with where I expected to be.
The women’s team had a fantastic day. Fiona Brannan was 3rd and the team placed first – brilliant results all round.
It was great to be part of the team and be really made to feel welcome. I just hope that one day I can repay the Club with a result which contributes to our placing in some way!
Will I do it again? Absolutely. Why? Because no matter where you finish, you’re supporting and representing your Club. Even if you don’t count towards the placed team, you can displace runners from other clubs and increase their score; by my reckoning, that’s what 5 of our women’s B &C team and 3 of our men’s B team finishers did. It’s also great for developing your running strength, both physical and psychological. It’s a fair trade for the mud!

How to become a blood stem cell donor

Shaun racing in the Willow Miner - Feb 2017Shaun was the Elvet Striders web officer for many years and has contributed countless reports and articles. Many of you will have heard the news about Shaun. After a routine blood test he has been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and within two days admitted to the Northern Centre for Cancer Care in Newcastle for an intensive 4 week session of chemotherapy.

Shaun and Ros are very positive and seeing Shaun you wouldn’t realise he is ill. His amazing fitness, positivity and good humour are all helping him. Shaun’s doctors are checking the stem cell register for a match so he can have a transplant.

This post is to help publicise and encourage as many fit young people to join the stem cell register.

Registering is very easy, you just need to be under 55 and you can sign up below:

https://www.dkms.org.uk/en/register-now

and you’ll be sent a DIY cheek swab kit. If you aren’t a match for Shaun, you could be a match for someone else.

Shaun has also somewhat depleted the national blood bank supplies – they’ve been giving him red blood cells and platelets – so don’t forget to give blood!

Please share the link around all your contacts. Thanks.

Grizedale Trail 26, Sunday, February 4, 2018

26.8 miles

Dougie Nisbet

So impressed the official photographer still waiting for all us stragglers!Whenever I see a Facebook post from someone asking for advice about a race I usually nudge them in the direction of the website. A quick search often reveals there are few races where no Striders have gone before. So I remembered to take my own advice and had a quick look to see if there were any stories to read about the Grizedale Trail 26. Sure enough, Dave Robson, Tamsin, and David Brown have all written about their experiences, which I read the night before over a Bluebird Bitter or two.

We’d decided to stay at the Wilson’s Arms in Torver, a handy base we’ve used for a few Lake District events. I was up too early for breakfast but they’d left out cereal and orange juice for me so I was happy enough. The drive to Grizedale Forest visitor centre was a bit further than we expected but we arrived with plenty of time to spare and I was registered in no time. Even though it was early everything was open. Warm toilets, warm cafe. Which was all very pleasant as it was a cold winter’s day.

We had a bit of a wait before the 26 started but it wasn’t really a problem. I sat in the car and sipped coffee and looked out at the cold sunny morning thankful that it was not wet. The weather was much better than I expected and it was promising to be a nice day for a run.

The race briefing was over with a minute or two to spare, but they didn’t start early, in case ‘someone was just parking their car’. This sorta happened to me in the 2010 Derwent Water trail race so I approved of the adherence to protocol. I settled in at the back from the
beginning and did not expect to have a really hard race. Long and slow seems to suit me more than I expected and I, along with many others, were walking the hills from the beginning in anticipation of being grateful for the energy reserves later. What I hadn’t considered is how much I’d still be feeling the Grand Canaria marathon in my legs. It confirms my theory that, if you’re not race-ready or race-fit, simply slowing down doesn’t always help things. Tired legs are tired legs and they’ll want to stop running no matter how slow they’re moving.

On to the second lap. photo by Roberta MarshallThe weather was wonderful and I had a pretty enjoyable, steady first lap. The first bit of the figure of eight. Through the half-way-more-or-less point and across the road towards Windermere where we had a  long steady climb. Although I was taking things gently I could feel the tiredness in my legs and I knew it was going to be a tough day. But the views, the weather and the route all made up for it.

The race support was friendly and faultless. At the third and final feed stop next to Lake Windermere some ridiculously cheerful marshalls cheered and shouted me in and we were having such a good chat I was sorry to push on for the final 10km.

great views of snowy peaks

It was a hard slow slog home but the welcome at the finish was still great for all us stragglers. I don’t know how the organisers manage to stay so cheerful as they wait for every single runner to come back. The marshalls that I’d talked to 10km earlier were now magically transported to the finish, and I got the same rapturous welcome that I had before.

This was a very slick event. The organisation and support was excellent. Race HQ was in the forestry commission visitor centre with hot food and drink. Food stations were simply but amply stocked. There was clear route marking all the way round (with mile markers bizarrely from 13 to 23!) and marshalling at all the key road junctions. The route was never dull. There was always a ‘next corner’ coming up to wonder what was round. The final run in crossed the road and there were no fewer than 5 enthusiastic marshalls managing the crossing and shouting encouragement as the runners belted down towards the finish. I can’t think of anything to fault about the event.

Support comes in all forms. Photo by Roberta Marshall.

Gran Canaria Marathon, Sunday, January 21, 2018

Dougie Nisbet

The expo was a two day affair so I expected things would be quiet when we turned up around opening time. Sadly no. A strange one-way system was in operation and it was clearly VIP time too. And I didn’t know which queue to join, because I didn’t know my bib number, because I wasn’t on the start list. I was paid and registered and everything, but on the sheet lists pinned to noticeboards there was no mention of me.

Still, shy bairns get nowt. So I joined the shortest queue. The queue for bib numbers 1 to 100. I was viewed with some suspicion (can’t think why, don’t I look like someone who’d wear the numero uno?) but who cares. The front of the queue came soon enough and I tried to explain. In English. The volunteer’s English was a million times better than my Spanish but we still struggled. Eventually they found me, on another list, and I walked away happily with number 922, and a mental note not to go to expos the second the door opens. Wait for other runners to find the bugs.

We were staying, more through accident than design, at roughly kilometre 37 of the marathon, as it prepares for its final fast approach to the finish. This, with the hotel serving breakfast from 6am every day as a matter of routine, meant I had a very civilised start to marathon day. I looked out the window and got that strange marathon tingle you get when you start seeing other runners, in ones and twos and groups, drifting in from all directions and making their way to the start. I eventually joined them and was wandering around the start in good time trying to find the baggage drop. It was elusive, time was ticking, and I began to get anxious. I spotted a runner who looked like he was on a purposeful baggage drop trajectory so I tapped his kit bag and yelped Dónde?! He pointed up and replied Arriba! That was all clear enough and I reflected that I may have learned more Spanish from watching Road Runner cartoons than from text books.

The sun has got his hat onBy start time I was quite relaxed and chilled waiting in my pen. Away we went and I settled down into a comfortable pace in the cool morning sunshine. My training put me around a 4:15 marathon and I knew better than to try deceive myself that I was capable of faster. Still, it’s nice to experiment and after about 10km I began to test my pace. I was feeling comfortable but I’ve learned so much from my hot marathons last year, especially Lanzarote  where I pushed too hard and ended up blowing it. So for the first half of the race I gently pushed the envelope, testing how I felt, recognising my limits, and easing back. I was running without a heart-rate monitor but I trusted my instincts on perceived exertion and kept within my limits.

The sun had very much got its hat on by now and I reckoned it was time to get the sunglasses on and turn the cap round backwards. The sweat was dripping in my eyes but, oddly, it wasn’t stinging. Very odd. Then with a start I remembered something important that I’d forgotten! Despite the leisurely start to the day I had managed to leave the Factor 50 untouched on the bed side table. I’m normally very particular about this and now suddenly I was worried. Wear Sunscreen! There wasn’t much I could do about it now, and in the Old Town of Las Palmas there were decent slabs Wear Sunscreenof shade if you chose a good line. Roberta had realised the same thing around the same time and despite heroic plans to unite me with some sunscreen she realised that it was an impossible task. Our hotel was on a narrow strip of land that the course zig-zagged through in the final kilometres and was effectively locked down to taxis and buses.

Kms 9 to 16 are a bit dull. The marathon course was, on the whole, a bit unremarkable. This is the 9th running of the race and much fanfare was made of the fact that the marathon would be a single loop. It sounds good but the single loop often involved running a long way up a dual carriageway, around an orange cone, then back again. In fact kms 9 to 16 were so astoundingly dull that the organisers didn’t even put it on the map.

But that was all behind me now. We’d also left the interesting streets of the old town and were heading back towards the city. I was still pushing the envelope from time to time but I knew to trust my instincts and not crash and burn as I knew I would if I chanced my luck. With about 10km to go I saw Roberta waving a bottle of suntan lotion but by this time I was more interesting in scooshing water over my head and letting fate take its course.

The finish straightAlthough I thought the course overall had been a bit dull at times, it makes up for a lot of that in the closing stages. The last few kms are a fast belt down the lovely Playa de Las Canteras. I wasn’t as fast as I’d like to have been, but I hadn’t blown it either, and I managed a strong controlled finish without the nagging doubt that I could’ve or should’ve gone faster.

I finished in 4:16, marginally faster than Lanzarote, but I ran a poorly executed endgame in Lanzarote, whereas today I had got it about right.

 

Laufen mit TriAs Hildesheim, Saturday, January 20, 2018

18km

Jonathan Hamill

What else after a rather pleasing outcome at the Georgengarten parkrun? Suitably re-fueled by coffee and cake, I was looking forward to running with the TriAs triathlon club (http://www.trias-hildesheim.de/index.php) in Hildesheim, courtesy of a kind invitation from work colleague, Nils.

“Come along, it will be fun, 12km or so at a steady pace”, was what I heard. The first bit was certainly true!

We met at the DJK Sportplatz at Hildesheim, where the club also has use of a track – more on that to follow.

With introductions made, we ran over a couple of bridges and followed a riverside path in a loop – a shade over 8mm pace. That seemed to be the warm-up, and we then headed for the hills, literally! We climbed up a gravel path through the Steinberg woods, past a zoo and taking in a great view of the surrounding area. At this point, I lamented my decision to opt for road shoes – my new Saucony Koa STs which I’d left in the car would have provided a bit more traction on the muddier bits.

We dropped down back to the DJK Sportplatz hitting 13km. Most people said farewell at this point but there was a (very good) plan b, partly for one of the members who was training for an Ironman event. We bolted on a 5km sight-seeing tour of the old town. Hildesheim is renowned for its historic churches, and we passed St Mary’s Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We also passed a whitewater canoe course which looked amazing, prior to returning to our starting point.

I joined in a “warm-down” with a twist, as we headed to the track for some drills which included some sprint efforts! Just over 18km, an average pace a shade faster than 9mm, and we were done. The mixed grill and isotonic Weißbier tasted really good when I got back to the hotel!

An amazing bunch of people, and a capable triathlon club who put on a fantastic running tour – thanks all, and you will be very welcome to run with us if you visit Durham.

Here’s the relive overview of this run: https://www.relive.cc/view/1366364016

Georgengarten parkrun #8, Hannover, Germany, Saturday, January 20, 2018

Jonathan Hamill

Photo courtesy of Georgengarten parkrun

Having enjoyed a visit to Georgengarten parkrun during a business trip in December, I found myself in a similar position during January.

Arriving at the Herrenhäuser Allee, I met the friendly core team again. I also met a couple of visitors from London in apricot parkrun t-shirts and Nina from Ireland who told me about some other running options in the local area.

The temperature was a mild improvement over my previous visit but it was still cold! Putting it another way, I was in a clear minority wearing shorts. I took a warm-up along the tree-lined avenue and observed that the Georgengarten had survived Storm Frederike well, with only some damage to the trees towards the Willhelm Busch Museum.

We lined up, and I had the advantage of knowing the course this time – basically just over a mile of straight gravel path towards Hannover, and then a switch back to follow the twists and turns of the Georgengarten park back to the start/finish at the beginning of the Herrenhäuser Allee.

And we were off! I ran down the tree-lined gravel path, perhaps a second or two faster than my previous attempt but on the twists and turns, I found the going tough with the accumulation of miles in my legs from and after Brass Monkey Half Marathon the previous weekend.

Photo courtesy of Dirk Große (Georgengarten parkrun core team)

I managed to improve my time and placing finishing 5th and 1st VM40-44, in 23:05 (from 7th finisher and 23:28 in December). Perhaps the lack of Christmas markets and obligatory Glühwein helped.

I joined some of the finishers and core team across the road at the Steinecke bakery for post-run coffee and cake before saying goodbye.

Once again, a hugely enjoyable parkrun in Germany which seems to be attracting more runners. Thanks to the volunteer team for their efforts!

 

Brass Monkey Half Marathon, York Racecourse, Sunday, January 14, 2018

Joanne Patterson

Everyone who knows me knows that I don’t like distance. In fact, I’m pretty sure most of you would say that I don’t even like running. So when I found myself up at 5.40am on a Saturday in October, in a queue for a queue for a place in the 2018 Brass Monkey, I did wonder what on earth was wrong with me.

I hadn’t got along with distance in the past – I had done the Great North Run in 2016 and it hadn’t gone at all to plan. Looking back, I wasn’t ready. I thought I had trained enough, but I was vastly underprepared for the mental strength that would be required. I completed it, but I hated myself, my life, running, the world etc. etc (always the drama queen). I remember seeing my Dad at the end and just collapsing into his arms in a big snotty blubbering heap, vowing to never run another half marathon as long as I lived. I was gently persuaded to try the distance again at Brass Monkey 2017 to see if it was the distance that I didn’t like, or if it was just that particular race. I, unfortunately, picked up a chest infection in November, and couldn’t train much at all, but to be fair, I had no intention of racing it, and I knew I could complete the distance. I did; in exactly the same time that I ran the Great North Run.

Fast forward to October 2017 – fate had got me a place in Brass Monkey again. I was determined to train properly and give this a real try this time. My times had been improving over the year, gaining good PB’s over 5k and 10k – I could do this. A good friend had been giving me lots of advice and support and constantly encouraging me to have a little faith in myself, and in my training. He even convinced me to run Gibside Fruit Bowl and Loftus Poultry Run, as the hills would be good training. (Our friendship almost didn’t survive the joys of Gibside).

Due to some personal circumstances I had been struggling a little with my mental health and had been signed off work for quite a long time to try and work through them. Training for this race helped me in a way I can’t even describe. Having a goal to focus on, gave me a reason to get out of bed. But it also stood in the way sometimes and convinced me that I was kidding myself, that there was no point even trying.

In my heart, I knew I was capable of a PB, having run the previous 2 attempts in 2:23:59. I wanted to dream of sub 2 hours, but I just didn’t think there was any point. No way could I sustain the required pace over 13.1 miles and I so desperately didn’t want to be disappointed. So I admitted to myself that I would be happy with sub 2:05, which would have been a nice 18 minute PB.

I drove myself down to York instead of jumping on the Strider bus. I wanted to remain slightly incognito so that I could focus properly. A little warm up and then off to the start. I positioned myself behind the sub 2-hour section and waited with more nerves than I have ever felt.

The plan was to run 5k easier than race pace, then 10k at race pace and the final 6k with everything I had left. I was nervous that I would become too comfortable with the easy pace, and not be able to pick it up when I needed to, so the plan kind of went out of the window 1km in. I felt good. My pace was slightly faster than race pace, but it felt comfortable. I saw Allan, Lesley and Graeme and a selection of Strider children, and I actually smiled and waved – never been known. I saw Catherine around 6k and tried to keep her in my sights to keep me going, but at the second water stop, she took some kind of super gel and went off like a whippet.

So feeling good lasted a while, I was enjoying myself but trying not to get too carried away, listening to people around me chatting with their friends (and wondering how they could manage it). I started to slow down around 16k – there is something about hearing “only a parkrun to go” that just messes with my brain – it’s not comforting to know that! I was very aware that I had slowed down and tried to push a bit more, but I had nothing left. Perhaps if I had followed “the plan” I may have had something left, but alas, all I could do was my best. I had never managed to run the entire distance without stopping for a walk, so my next goal was to make sure I didn’t stop, even though a lot of runners around me seemed to be defeated by the “hills”. I was actually thrilled to see the “hills”, it was a nice change from all the flat (this is now on my ‘things-I-never-thought-I’d -say’ list) and I managed to lose a few people so I think I will thank Cross Country experience for that!

Running down into the racecourse felt amazing. I knew I was almost there. I had nearly done it – I didn’t look at my watch, I knew that I hadn’t managed a sub 2 but I had no idea by how much, but it didn’t matter now. I had run the whole way, I had mostly enjoyed it, and really soon I could stop!!! When I think about the finishing straight now, I get goosebumps. A collection of Striders were at the front and they were all I could hear – their roars of support brought out the last of what I had left and I sprinted as fast as I could to the finish, overtaking around 5 runners (Michael, Lesley, Stephen and Matt – thank you so much). My official time came through as 2:00:57. Nowhere near as far over the 2-hour mark as I had convinced myself, and a massive 23 minute PB.

But this, of course, means I will have to do it again next year….

Overall PositionBibno.Finish time Chip time Participant Category
1124001.07.1501.07.12Jamie Parkinson
THAMES HARE & HOUNDS
(M) Open Senior
72185401.19.0601.19.02Tracy Millmore
Birtley
(F) V35
1382901.12.4501.12.41Stephen Jackson(M) Open Senior
30131101.15.0501.15.01Gareth Pritchard(M) V35
6997501.18.5001.18.44Michael Littlewood(M) V40
8524201.19.4801.19.43Chris Callan(M) V35
1024001.21.2601.21.19Matthew Archer(M) V35
144133701.23.0701.23.00Phil Ray(M) V35
19475901.25.4101.25.25David Hinton(M) Open Senior
19564101.25.4301.25.38Mark Griffiths(M) V40
265162801.28.4801.28.28Emma Thompson(F) V35
2693201.28.5201.28.45Michael Anderson(M) Open Senior
433134801.35.5101.35.24Allan Renwick(M) V45
4458501.36.1501.35.49Michael Barlow(M) V40
516112101.38.2501.37.57Dan Mitchell(M) V40
59767001.41.3001.41.01Jonathan Hamill(M) V40
771184801.47.3501.46.48Katy Walton(F) V35
78239001.47.5401.46.54Andrew Davies(M) V40
79270701.48.1101.47.09Peter Hart(M) V40
800144401.48.3801.47.36Anna Seeley(F) V35
85254301.50.4001.49.39Mark Foster(M) V35
936145001.53.4801.52.46Chris Shearsmith(M) V40
101697601.56.4601.55.58Wendy Littlewood(F) V35
1070141201.58.1701.57.15Lisa Sample(F) V35
108619701.58.3901.57.37Alex Brown(M) V45
1113150001.59.4401.58.42Catherine Smith(F) V40
11688602.01.5002.01.02Stephanie Barlow(F) V40
1180124502.02.2102.00.57Joanne Patterson(F) V35
130674002.09.4702.08.02Alison Heslop(F) V45
132886202.11.3702.10.02Debbie Jones(F) V45
1330105602.11.4202.10.06Debbie Mcfarland(F) Open Senior
1333129802.11.5602.10.21James Potter(M) V35
134451102.12.4702.11.01Kirsten Fenwick(F) V35
136721202.16.2602.14.41Vicky Brown(F) V35
14509002.30.4602.29.01Kerry Barnett(F) V45
146460202.36.4702.35.01Rebecca Gilmore(F) Open Senior
1481165602.51.5402.50.12Rachel Toth(F) V40
1486TOTAL RUNNERS

Brass Monkey Half Marathon, York Racecourse, Sunday, January 14, 2018

Wendy Littlewood

January 15th, 2017 Brass Monkey marked my first attempt at the half marathon distance and at 5:45 am on the 21st October my race prep for attempt two began.
I had been delighted with my time of 2:10 in 2017, far quicker than I ever imagined. Could 2018 be quicker? Should I be dreaming of the elusive sub 2??
My 5k and 10k times had improved though according to VDOT. Not quite enough to expect this time; still floating around the high 26 for 5k and unable to get below 55 in 10k. A training plan was set to aim for 2:05. Still a decent PB.
As always, life gets in the way of sticking hard to any plan. This plan was also more daunting and regimented than the beginner’s plan I had followed last year. Simply running 10 miles was no longer enough; I had to run the miles at a set pace and the run strides at the end (these often got forgotten….).
Bearing in mind the timing of the run, committing to training throughout winter and peaking over Christmas time is tough. Certainly makes you feel like a proper runner though!! My last long run was with great company (James and Helen Potter) between Christmas and New Year. There was no snow on the ground when we set out on the lines from Broompark. On our return, the whole place looked like Narnia!
As training progressed, my pacing was actually a little faster than expected although my 5k pace was still not improving. Being honest, I was probably shying away from an all-out parkrun – I just wasn’t feeling brave enough for that test. If I failed, in my mind, the sub 2 would definitely be out of the question.
Disaster struck the first week of January – cold/flu. I felt completely wiped out. Nerves really, really set in. Of course, in retrospect, this was perfect timing – enforced tapering! Michael insisted that I would still do sub 2, in my mind, I was focussing on getting around and anything better than last year would be a win.
The cold got better just in time however on the morning of the run, I was still resigned to managing consistent 9:30 min/mile pace, still a PB after all.
Then I met up with Greta and Karen Jones (formerly of this parish). Karen had promised me that she would pace me around for sub 2 as this was not going to be a target race for them. I was aware of their pacing abilities, the first time I ever met them was mid parkrun when they told me they were pacing me for a PB because Michael had told them I was aiming for one that day!!
I got my excuses in and tried to dissuade them from accompanying but they just wouldn’t be shaken off and guided me to the 1:45 – 2:00 area near the start. The conditions were perfect, no wind, no rain or snow, no ice and a positively balmy 4c.
Brass Monkey is a flat, out and back route. Two extremely small hills on the way out that then feel like mountains on the way back! Big enough to have great facilities at the racecourse and small enough to be fun and chatty. As with many runs, the marshals are members of the local running club and extremely supportive and friendly.
The first 3 miles glided by. We were running at a nice chatty (albeit slightly breathless) pace. It felt so comfortable that Greta had to remind me to slow down a little (don’t set off too fast!!). How on earth was I running at 8:45 pace???? Target for sub 2 was 9:08….. Surely I would blow up sometime soon.
We maintained this pace up to 6 miles and I was still feeling comfortable. 10k 54:13??? Surely this had to end soon?? Miles 7-9 started feeling tougher however we still maintained the pace. Sub 2 was back on the agenda with a bang!!!
I knew that mile 10 onwards is when you truly prove your grit and this race was absolutely no different. No matter how many times you tell yourself ‘its only a parkrun’ its always the toughest part of the run. To stop getting completely defeatist and out of control, we did a couple of short walking breaks. Our pacing had been so consistent earlier that we had the time to do this and still hit target.
Mile 10 was the slowest yet at 9:13 – I love the way looking back at pacing always tells the story of the run. Mile 11 was quicker again at 8:49 but then mile 12 hit back at 9:22. I was hurting and so very tired. I desperately wanted to see Michael and the boys.
We turned a corner and could see the Racecourse – Greta kept me concentrating on how proud my boys would be of me…. I was desperately trying to keep the tears at bay.
As we came off the road and into the racecourse, there was no Littlewoods in sight – had they seriously forgotten me?? I should not have worried – just ahead a sea of purple and the most tremendous roar!!! The Strider army were there with bells on!!
With the finish line just metres ahead, Greta grabbed my hand and we sprinted across the line. I have never felt so emotional and tremendous!!
I know I surprised a few people that day, Lewis was certainly caught unawares. He thought he would see me at around 1:59:59 so he had to have quick reactions to run beside the course alongside me to see me finish at 1:55:58!!
15 minute PB.
Brass Monkey has taught me a few things this year:
I can be quicker than I think.
Just because I didn’t do the strides at the end of the long run in week 5 and 6 of the plan doesn’t mean that I can’t hit the target.
Getting up at 5:30 to enter this race is a small price to pay for such a fantastic experience: it is completely worthwhile.
I have the best running pals in the world. Runners are amongst the kindest, most altruistic people. My target for 2018 is to pay this forward

Overall PositionBibno.Finish time Chip time Participant Category
1124001.07.1501.07.12Jamie Parkinson
THAMES HARE & HOUNDS
(M) Open Senior
72185401.19.0601.19.02Tracy Millmore
Birtley
(F) V35
1382901.12.4501.12.41Stephen Jackson(M) Open Senior
30131101.15.0501.15.01Gareth Pritchard(M) V35
6997501.18.5001.18.44Michael Littlewood(M) V40
8524201.19.4801.19.43Chris Callan(M) V35
1024001.21.2601.21.19Matthew Archer(M) V35
144133701.23.0701.23.00Phil Ray(M) V35
19475901.25.4101.25.25David Hinton(M) Open Senior
19564101.25.4301.25.38Mark Griffiths(M) V40
265162801.28.4801.28.28Emma Thompson(F) V35
2693201.28.5201.28.45Michael Anderson(M) Open Senior
433134801.35.5101.35.24Allan Renwick(M) V45
4458501.36.1501.35.49Michael Barlow(M) V40
516112101.38.2501.37.57Dan Mitchell(M) V40
59767001.41.3001.41.01Jonathan Hamill(M) V40
771184801.47.3501.46.48Katy Walton(F) V35
78239001.47.5401.46.54Andrew Davies(M) V40
79270701.48.1101.47.09Peter Hart(M) V40
800144401.48.3801.47.36Anna Seeley(F) V35
85254301.50.4001.49.39Mark Foster(M) V35
936145001.53.4801.52.46Chris Shearsmith(M) V40
101697601.56.4601.55.58Wendy Littlewood(F) V35
1070141201.58.1701.57.15Lisa Sample(F) V35
108619701.58.3901.57.37Alex Brown(M) V45
1113150001.59.4401.58.42Catherine Smith(F) V40
11688602.01.5002.01.02Stephanie Barlow(F) V40
1180124502.02.2102.00.57Joanne Patterson(F) V35
130674002.09.4702.08.02Alison Heslop(F) V45
132886202.11.3702.10.02Debbie Jones(F) V45
1330105602.11.4202.10.06Debbie Mcfarland(F) Open Senior
1333129802.11.5602.10.21James Potter(M) V35
134451102.12.4702.11.01Kirsten Fenwick(F) V35
136721202.16.2602.14.41Vicky Brown(F) V35
14509002.30.4602.29.01Kerry Barnett(F) V45
146460202.36.4702.35.01Rebecca Gilmore(F) Open Senior
1481165602.51.5402.50.12Rachel Toth(F) V40
1486TOTAL RUNNERS

Brass Monkey Half Marathon, York Racecourse, Sunday, January 14, 2018

Stephen Jackson

Ok, so it’s not for everyone, but I love the Brass Monkey half marathon. As long as my legs are strong enough, and my internet speed is quick enough, I’ll enter this race.
What better way to start the year?

The plan was to head out somewhere near PB pace or a little quicker and see how I felt. Never likely to trouble the lead pack in a highly competitive field this was more about seeing where ‘I’m at’ at the beginning of 2018.

After a fairly frantic start, I settled at the back of the second group, with the front-runners disappearing into the distance with the lead car. There was another break at 5k and I was in or around 15th position with some familiar faces, many from the North East (I was to finish 13th).

I found the first half (the ‘out’ of the out-and-back race) the hardest, I think this was due to the brisk start coupled with a headwind. I actually felt better at 10 miles than I did at 5. I ran from just before halfway with Michael Hedley from Tyne Bridge Harriers, not for the first time over the half marathon distance.

The conditions were good; cold but not freezing, no rain, not too much wind.

It was all there for the taking but in the end, I felt I had a good race, not a great one. This is a race you can achieve something special and I fell just short based on the high standards I set myself. That said, a PB is a PB – you shouldn’t be disappointed with a personal best: it is exactly what it says on the tin.

Also, if you’ve got the time – take the bus with fellow club members to a race this year. I know it’s difficult for people with families etc. to justify the best part of the day out of the house, but it really does make it a social ‘team’ event.

Overall PositionBibno.Finish time Chip time Participant Category
1124001.07.1501.07.12Jamie Parkinson
THAMES HARE & HOUNDS
(M) Open Senior
72185401.19.0601.19.02Tracy Millmore
Birtley
(F) V35
1382901.12.4501.12.41Stephen Jackson(M) Open Senior
30131101.15.0501.15.01Gareth Pritchard(M) V35
6997501.18.5001.18.44Michael Littlewood(M) V40
8524201.19.4801.19.43Chris Callan(M) V35
1024001.21.2601.21.19Matthew Archer(M) V35
144133701.23.0701.23.00Phil Ray(M) V35
19475901.25.4101.25.25David Hinton(M) Open Senior
19564101.25.4301.25.38Mark Griffiths(M) V40
265162801.28.4801.28.28Emma Thompson(F) V35
2693201.28.5201.28.45Michael Anderson(M) Open Senior
433134801.35.5101.35.24Allan Renwick(M) V45
4458501.36.1501.35.49Michael Barlow(M) V40
516112101.38.2501.37.57Dan Mitchell(M) V40
59767001.41.3001.41.01Jonathan Hamill(M) V40
771184801.47.3501.46.48Katy Walton(F) V35
78239001.47.5401.46.54Andrew Davies(M) V40
79270701.48.1101.47.09Peter Hart(M) V40
800144401.48.3801.47.36Anna Seeley(F) V35
85254301.50.4001.49.39Mark Foster(M) V35
936145001.53.4801.52.46Chris Shearsmith(M) V40
101697601.56.4601.55.58Wendy Littlewood(F) V35
1070141201.58.1701.57.15Lisa Sample(F) V35
108619701.58.3901.57.37Alex Brown(M) V45
1113150001.59.4401.58.42Catherine Smith(F) V40
11688602.01.5002.01.02Stephanie Barlow(F) V40
1180124502.02.2102.00.57Joanne Patterson(F) V35
130674002.09.4702.08.02Alison Heslop(F) V45
132886202.11.3702.10.02Debbie Jones(F) V45
1330105602.11.4202.10.06Debbie Mcfarland(F) Open Senior
1333129802.11.5602.10.21James Potter(M) V35
134451102.12.4702.11.01Kirsten Fenwick(F) V35
136721202.16.2602.14.41Vicky Brown(F) V35
14509002.30.4602.29.01Kerry Barnett(F) V45
146460202.36.4702.35.01Rebecca Gilmore(F) Open Senior
1481165602.51.5402.50.12Rachel Toth(F) V40
1486TOTAL RUNNERS

Harrier League, Herrington Park, Saturday, January 6, 2018

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. Mud King/Mud Queen Race - click flag for more information.

men
posbibnamerace timepackcatactual time
11806Oliver James
(Sunderland Harriers)
34:30SMsen34:30
35485Chris Callan42:58MMV3540:18
37516Mark Griffiths43:04SMV4043:04
40543Stephen Jackson43:10FMsen37:50
53523Michael Littlewood43:39MMV4040:59
54502Gareth Pritchard43:44MMV3541:04
71508James Lee44:13SMV4044:13
89518Mark Warner44:34MMV3541:54
118519Matt Claydon45:00SMV4045:00
147529Paul Evans45:40SMV3545:40
151532Phil Ray45:44MMV3543:04
162520Matthew Archer46:00MMV3543:20
163503Geoff Davis46:02SMV6046:02
176496David Gibson46:24SMV5046:24
178530Paul Swinburne46:25SMV4046:25
221521Michael Anderson47:20SMsen47:20
230546Stuart Scott47:33MMV3544:53
267548Timothy Skelton48:32SMV3548:32
319517Mark Payne50:36SMV3550:36
3251826Aaron Gourley51:03SMV3551:03
327487Conrad White51:10SMV6051:10
332490Daniel Mitchel51:18SMV4051:18
333534Richard Hockin51:20SMV6551:20
338522Michael Hughes51:32SMV5051:32
347526Mike Bennett51:41SMV6051:41
351533Philip Connor52:04SMsen52:04
402514Malcolm Sygrove54:51SMV5054:51
469542Stephen Ellis64:01SMV6064:01
women
posbibnamerace timepackcatactual time
11291Anna Martin
Saltwell Harriers
30:53SFsen30:53
16395Anna Basu34:24SFV4034:24
25450Penny Browell34:45FFV4531:05
30452Rachelle Mason34:57SFV3534:57
42412Emma Thompson35:10FFV3531:30
92429Juliet Percival36:38MFV4534:48
109449Nina Mason37:01SFV4037:01
127462Susan Davis37:45MFV5535:55
133414Fiona Shenton38:03SFV5538:03
161459Sarah Fawcett38:50SFV5538:50
1691299Jean Bradley39:01SFV6039:01
188461Stef Barlow39:38SFV4039:38
197416Helen Thomas39:59SFV4039:59
213427Joanne Porter41:15SFV4541:15
221426Joanne Patterson41:32SFV3541:32
224421Jane Ranns41:42SFV3541:42
227404Chloe Black41:46SFV4041:46
232467Wendy Littlewood42:17SFV3542:17
2501169Rachel Durrand43:21SFsen43:21
261431Karen Metters43:58SFV4043:58
273393Anita Clementson44:36SFV4544:36
2841278Debra Thompson46:06SFV5046:06
296453Rebecca Dodd47:59SFsen47:59
3001247Alison Smith48:28SFV4048:28
321437Kerry Barnett52:06SFV4552:06
3231279Sue Walker52:31SFV5552:31
324401Carol Holgate54:44SFV4554:44