Daily Archives: 28th February 2009

Belvoir Challenge, Grantham, Saturday, February 28, 2009

Dave Robson

I went down to the Grantham the previous night and had problems finding the Travelodge which meant that I did about 30min more driving than I need have done. Not a great start !

Got to the start very early, but at least this meant that I got a parking space at the village hall which was the finishing point – I would be very pleased at the end that I didn’t have to walk very far.

Had two cups of tea whilst I was waiting and if I wasn’t a vegetarian I would have been very tempted by the bacon or sausage butty. This is the 19th running of this event and the whole thing worked like a well oiled machine, it appeared as if the whole village was out helping. Both events were full – the 15m and the 26m. There looked to be slightly more walkers than runners. Faffed around deciding what to wear. Started in shorts, changed my mind and got into tights and stuck with that. Put a couple of packets of yoghurt coated raising in my back pocket and just one gel. I was a bit nervous about having just one gel for such a distance, but I thought I would just rely on the food and drink at the checkpoints – five of them.

It started at the school up the road and then went through the narrow village streets. This was a bit messy as several walkers started at the front which caused a bit of a holdup, but at least my first half mile wasn’t too fast. Got out of the village onto a firm trail and the courses forked – the 15m route went right and the 26m route went left and suddenly I had loads of space and nothing but runners ahead of me. The trail got muddier and then we were into a muddy field and into the next village – all the villages we went through (must have been ten or so) were very pretty. We soon started the first climb and I decided to walk them all. Into some lovely woods and after 5m we came to the first checkpoint. It was just amazing ! Load and loads of cake, pizza, loads of alternative drinks including tea. I decided to eat every other checkpoint and drink at each one, so I didn’t linger too long, although it was tempting.

And so it went on, we went past Belvoir Castle, very impressive, through muddy fields, muddy tracks, some road sections. Great countryside. All the helpers at the checkpoints were very friendly and helpful. When I got to the last but one at 18.5m I was starting to feel very tired and there was part of me wished that was the end ! I had already had the gel earlier and I think I may have needed more energy. The yoghurt covered raisins I had kept in their boxes in my back pocket, but I won’t do that again, the boxes had disintegrated and were a soggy mess. So the cake at this checkpoint was very welcome and I picked up a bit after this.

Before the last checkpoint, I had just crossed an over the ankle deep muddy section and was just leaving the field when I heard somebody shouting behind me. A small group of cows had wandered on to the path behind me and the woman behind was asking me to move them as she was terrified of cows, so I ran back and shooed them away. Plodded on to the finish and I was pleased to get there. 4hr 36min. At the finish was soup, load of rolls, various puddings and custard, tea, coffee etc, just loads to eat and all included in the entry fee. I had taken printed maps with me, but only once did I need them as the course was superbly marked with tape and signs – another indication of how well organised this event was.

If you fancy a long mainly off road run, I would strongly recommend this one.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Mark White Leicester Tri Club M 3:13:24
64 Dave Robson M 4:37:10

177 finishers.

Harrier League, Cramlington, Saturday, February 28, 2009


Mudman Despairs!

Susan and Debs battle it out.

Mudman has emerged from the mire to express his dismay at Striders Men for not being able to field six of their number to uphold the Club’s honour at today’s Harrier League fixture. This is the first time this has occurred for four years and is likely to mean that the club will suffer the ignomony of relegation to the third division.

Running is usually a solitary sport, one of personal rather than team performance – except at the Harrier League, where we are able to bond and achieve things as a team as well as individual runners in Striders’ vests. So today was very disappointing – particularly for the 5 Striders men who did run and the 6 Striders women who were there to support them and later run brilliantly in their own race. Even my ‘cousin’ Clarty Man from Durham Harriers expressed his disappointment at Striders’ poor show.

Lets see if we can’t salvage some honour for the club in the remaining fixtures!

The following stalwarts were at Cramlington today flying the flag for Striders:

WOMEN: Susan Davis, Debs Goddard, Steph Barlow, Wendy Rowell, Jane Ives & Zoe Tomlins.
MEN: Mike Bennett, Shaun Roberts, Conrad White, Geoff Davis & Alan Purvis.

See you all at Prudhoe!


Paul Evans adds: Have just arrived back in Durham from Cramlington, having failed utterly to find the race venue. I’m really sorry about any points docked for failing to field a full team, but had to give up when 1315 came and I was still lost. Paul

Jan Young adds: Help, I’ve lost a Harrier League. Have you seen one around here?

Having seen Woodhorn written in my diary ever since the Harrier League dates came out, that’s where I went, unfortunately taking Nina and Calum with me and unfortunately not to the correct field. That will teach me to check Striders’ web site before departure.

Will I ever be forgiven? I who am always trying to persuade others to run the cross country and now the men will get clobbered with penalty points for failing to field a team . No one will ever ask me for a lift. Cal will put me in a home as he’s convinced I’ve lost my marbles as well as a race venue. Help, I’m in need of counselling………..

We did rescue something from the day, with a 5mile run on Blyth Beach. We promise to be at the last league run at South Shields, at least I can find my way there!

Yours, Embarrassed AKA Jan Y.



Pos Name Club Cat Pack Time
1 ARCHER, Jon Low Fell M 36:40
118 BENNETT, Michael V S 42:26
175 ROBERTS, Shaun V S 44:28
198 WHITE, Conrad V S 45:22
202 DAVIS, Geoff V S 45:30
300 PURVIS, Alan V S 1:05:04

302 finishers. Elvet Striders: no team.


Pos Name Club Cat Pack Time
1 JAMES, Delyth Morpeth Harriers F 28:07
38 DAVIS, Susan V S 32:26
44 GODDARD, Debs V S 32:56
62 BARLOW, Steph S 34:20
71 ROWELL, Wendy V S 35:49
75 TOMLINS, Zoe S 36:33

93 finishers. Elvet Striders: 11th Women’s Team.

High Cup Nick Fell Race, Dufton, Saturday, February 28, 2009

BM / 15km / 460m

Two reports, first from Dougie Nisbet:

Dufton is quite a bit further from Durham than you might think, and if you don’t want to arrive 15 minutes before race start in a bit of tizz, it’s worth being a bit more organised than I was. I registered, relaxed and looked around. Hallo, what’s this, another Striders vest! Nigel was being interrogated by an earnest lady who wanted to know whether he was looking forward to the race. They were having a bizarre conversation on wind when I bounded up and said “Hello”. He wasn’t looking too good. A bit peely-wally it has to be said, recovering from a persistent cold. But more on that story later.

We wandered the few yards from registration to start and I couldn’t help notice the abundance of base layers underneath everyone’s racing vests. I looked down at my bare arms and legs and then up at the clouds and realised that I may have committed a rather serious and extremely chilly logistical error. It was warm in my house when got up, so it’d be warm at High Cup Nick. Or something.

As we waited at the start we got into a bit of a bidding war about who had run the least over the last few weeks, who was feeling the most wretched, and whether Nigel’s cold could outbid my over-enthusiasm for steak and red wine the previous evening. We would find out. My race plan was to run, ‘speculatively’, and if throwing-up looked unlikely, pick up the tempo.

Off we went and off he went. Nigel soon became a speck and I settled down. As with many fell races you have the rather humbling view of seeing exactly where you’re heading unfolding before you. High Cup Gill drifted into view and the cloud loitered around the valley with mischief on its mind. As we climbed steadily up the valley I began to feel better and passed a fair few runners. I was feeling pretty comfortable. Nigel kept appearing on radar, walking, then he would break into a run and disappear again.

It was on the climb up to High Cup Nick itself that I passed Nigel. Feeling pretty pleased with myself I gathered ample photographic evidence just in case challenged later in court. It’s a dramatic broody climb up to the top and I loved it. Over the top and a furtive glance back and I had made good gaps over many of the runners I’d passed and was feeling pretty smug.

There’s some fantastic descending in this race. It’s mostly runnable. Charging down through the cloud with glimpses of other runners ahead was an exhilarating experience. It couldn’t get any better. And it didn’t. A steady trail of familiar vests that I thought I’d seen the last of filed past and I just couldn’t match their speed. And then, a few miles from the finish, Nigel sailed past with a cheery nod, looking a million times better than he did on the ascent. Not for the first time the phrase “Nigel, you bastard!” was heard to utter from a Strider’s gob. [Nor the last time either, I expect. Ed]

It was a good run into the finish and then just a few short yards to soup and warmth. The day was nicely rounded off with a photo shoot by a student who wanted to build a portfolio of portraits of Fell Runners “looking tired”. No shortage of volunteers there.

Nigel being photographed by Dougie in the mist and the murk.

… and from Nigel Heppell:

Knowing that Striders, as of Wed’s night, had a full men’s team lined up for Cramlington, I excused myself from attending the Harrier League and denied myself the chance to help out in the eating of cakes afterwards, and headed off over the Pennines to try out the 9mile, 1500ft, High Cup Nick fell race for the first time.

I left home in warm, bright sunshine looking forward to spectacular views over the Lake District and the dramatic geology of High Cup Nick itself. It began to rain at Barnard Castle and stayed overcast and damp for the rest of my time in the west. The small village of Dufton was a rather soggy venue for the start/finish but it was brightened up by an array of 140ish runners in all manner of colourful kit, and a few familiar friendly faces – although how I know what they look like when I normally only see them from behind during a race is one of life’s little mysteries. Shortly before the off Dougie Nisbet turned up as the only other Strider (Will Horsley ran as NFR).

DN and I started from our rightful position at the back of the field and followed the crowd up the lanes until we were turned loose across the fields and low foothills. The going was very definitely ‘soft’. After a number of relatively gentle rises and falls we entered the valley floor leading to HCNick and proceeded up a steady incline criss-crossed with streams and bogs before hitting the boulder field (the going was now ‘hard’) and a savage increase in slope hidden in the cloud layer. Dougie left me behind at this point (in the nicest possible way) and went away out of sight into the mist above. By this time I was concentrating on placing all four limbs on secure hand/footholds and was quite glad I couldn’t see what lay ahead or behind.

The last few metres to the top lay alongside a small waterfall that, due to the funnelling effect of the valley, was being blown as a heavy spray in the reverse direction by a gale-force wind. A cold shower was the last thing I needed at this point as we turned into the wind and began the long descent along the route of the Pennine Way. A headlong charge downhill inside such a cloud would be an ethereal experience if it wasn’t for the battering of your feet on sodden, broken ground littered with stones of all sizes; – but this bit I enjoy because I seem to be able to overtake a few others under these conditions, Dougie included. We were diverted off the Pennine Way about a mile from the finish, and after a brief climb over another rise, ran down to the line on the village green and a welcome cup of home-made soup with enough pepper in it to restore the circulation to all extremities.

For those who know it, this race has a similar feeling to the Bowderdale race, albeit at a much colder time of year. I’ll ear-mark High Cup Nick for next year (Harrier league permitting) in the hope of some clear weather and sight of the elusive views.

Dougie’s taken some great photos along the way – well worth a look. Follow the link, below … Ed.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Darren Kay Horwich M   1:01:47
26 Will Horsley NFR M   1:13:27
110 Nigel Heppell   MV50   1:35:58
113 Dougie Nisbet   MV40   1:36:52

141 finishers.