Monthly Archives: June 2012

Bramhall parkrun, Manchester, Saturday, June 30, 2012

Peter Bell

Bramhall Hall is a 14th century Tudor manor house in Bramhall, near Stockport Greater Manchester. The house and its 70 acres of landscaped parkland with lakes, woodland, and gardens are the setting for what is an exemplar park run. I arrived early to get maximum warm up and stretches done and to prepare for a performance that was to shape some of my thinking to defer my Great North Run place. After a short jog through the park to the start I realised how beautiful it was. From the Tudor mansion house on part of the route to the Lakeland track and woodland climbs. This was looking good! With ten minutes to go I saw this was certainly a big event. It looked like there were around 400 people in attendance and they even had their own running club the Bramhall runners. More importantly this was a huge family event with one ten year old completing his 50th park run. Then they announced we would be lucky to catch him as he does it in 20 minutes!

Facing the start we set off up the first hill towards the mansion house. I was nailing the hill no problem but recognised I was going way too fast so held it back to 7 minute miles. The route looped past the house and around the lake. Dodging the duck droppings we headed into some woodland. The gently undulating and slightly muddy track had a few tricky climbs but I was still going strong. Looping back to the lake there was a huge crowd of well wishers to cheer us on as I crossed over the stone bridge and passed the house for the second lap. I started to pick off a few slower runners something I hadn’t done for a while and battled my way forward through lap two of the woods. With the finish in sight I started to slow as the last hill hit me like a train! Still it was down hill to the end and I didn’t have much left in the tank. It wouldn’t be a sprint finish but a finish it was as I passed the line in 23.20. A couple of minutes away from my PB and an average of around 7.45 minute miles. Still, it was a step in the right direction. Walking back to the car I was approached by an elderly lady who asked “Good time?” my reply was “Not too bad!” North run training was back on track!

Carlton Midsummer Meander, Wednesday, June 27, 2012

BS / 8.5km / 320m

Jan Young

Extra race in NEHRA summer series, entry monies donated to Cleveland Search and Rescue. Start and finish Lord Stones Cafe, 5 mls anti clockwise loop via Cringle Moor, Kirkby Bank, Toft Hill farm, Busby Moor. Variety of terrain; Cleveland Way paved path, rough tracks through five foot high bracken, fields, boggy bits where water drained downhill. Some of these I tackled sliding downhill on my bum- felt safer. Reaching the base of Green Bank, we looked up at the final 250m, a sheer climb of bracken, bilberry and heather up which all could only scramble, bent double clutching vegetation. At some points I found it quicker to crawl and just kept thinking thank goodness for all those bootcamp sessions doing bear crawls. And if you don’t know what bear crawls are come along to BC and find out! Great fun race on warm evening and NO RAIN!

Summer Handicap, Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Phil Owen

Hello, first of all apologises for not making the handicap myself last week but work and some family commitments got in the way just as my phone decided it would not recharge itself so I couldn’t let anyone know. Heck what did we do before mobiles? Thanks very much to Jacquie and others for helping out Anna. It just goes to show the strength of the club these days when I looked at the field and saw we *only* had 20 runners!

Young Adam no doubt fuelled by pizza was again First Male in 32.20 and Ellie Rogers was first lady home in 40.26.

Thanks again everyone who took part and look forward to seeing you at the next one the week after the Clamber on 25th July.

Alnwick Half Marathon, Sunday, June 24, 2012

Louise Miller

Even after the pain of the XC, I somehow managed to convince Victoria to sign up for this. I wanted to do it as a comparison to the GNR and as a bit of a challenge (10k’s were eventually getting easier!). I love the GNR but I’m always wary that it doesn’t matter how hard you train your pace will always be dictated somewhat by the sheer volume of runners. I was hopeful that if we entered another half with a smaller field we’d have a better chance of doing the 10 min mile half that we should be more than capable of doing……

You’re all probably laughing now that I could think of comparing the GNR to Alnwick – yes I was aware of the two killer hills before you reach the highest point at 9 mile but with the last 4 miles being nigh on downhill, I thought it might still be achievable at least to beat my half PB of 2.17.

Victoria, Rob and LouiseTraining had began well – we’d starting to up our distance just after the New Year and throughout March and April we were managing at least one 10-11 mile run a week. Then I went on holiday last month and training pretty much ground to a halt, so I was feeling somewhat nervous. I did manage a good run at Newburn on Wednesday which gave me some small hope that I might just make it round in one piece!

We arrived at Alnwick and met up with Rob and after the downpours on the way up we were pleasantly surprised to see the sun out. After the usual half a dozen trips to the toilet, we made our way to the start area which had a baggage tent and a DJ playing music which really helped to add a bit of atmosphere and excitement.

After a delay of about 10 mins (due to some escaped sheep on route!) and a very thorough race brief from the organisers (who warned us to keep something in the tank for the 2 hills!) we made our way to the start at the top of a huge hill. Off we went and at the bottom of the hill we slowed down to settle into a nice steady 10 minute mile pace. It felt quite slow but we intended to start slower and then hopefully have something left for the last few miles.

The route was very pretty, through fields and forests with marshalls every mile or so and water every 3 (we didn’t see any of the toilets that were advertised on the course map). Parts of the route were quite muddy due to the recent rainfall – I was actually muddier at the end then I was after any of the cross country races! We shared the route up until 5k with the 10k runners who split off to the left as we carried on to the right and into the forest.

A bit further in and I really started to appreciate having Victoria to run with – due to the lower number of runners and the different abilities, most of the course we were on our own. The lack of spectators also mean’t it was very quiet, but both me and Victoria found this very enjoyable and peaceful!

At just before 5 miles we got to the first hill. We put our heads down, stopped the chatting and slowly plodded to the top. Not too bad we thought…. Then we turned the corner and saw the proper hill which went on for about half a mile! We alternated between jogging and walking, then got to the top and stopped for a quick drink and a couple of jelly babies. The nice man with the water wished us on our way and told us to enjoy the next little downhill but be prepared for the next uphill at mile 7 (oh great!)

We recovered from the hill on a fast section through the forest then it was out back onto the road. We knew that once we got to 9 mile the worst was over but the miles from 7-9 were quite difficult – very undulating then you got to the start of the next hill at 7 mile which was actually a dog leg so you could see the faster runners zooming down the hill as you had to try and crawl up it! It wasn’t as long as the first but was quite a bit steeper so we decided just to walk the majority of it. We made it up and after a couple more inclines we reached the highest point. The view was amazing so we stopped to take a quick look and stretch our legs.

The next mile was mainly downhill and fast back down to where we started our climb. This section was very enjoyable and Victoria actually said that she wondered if there was a downhill marathon we could do! Miles 9-11 were mostly flat with a couple of bumps. We were both feeling quite comfortable at this point and intended to finish hand in hand but just after mile 11 my legs started to feel quite tired, but with a little support from Victoria I battled on.

We turned a corner and realised we were back on the path we started on which could only mean one thing – we had to go back up the hill we started at the top of! At mile 12 Victoria was so strong whereas I was slowly falling to pieces – physically my calves were aching and mentally I’d hit a wall as I knew I had nothing left to get me up that damn hill. I begged Victoria to leave me at this stage and spent the last mile looking at the hill and alternating between jogging and walking, trying desperately not to give up, sit down and cry! I was practically on my hands and knees up the hill – I had absolutely nothing left (and no-one there to cheer you up!) then Victoria appeared at the top shouting at me that once I was up that was it. So I pressed on to the top, along a small section onto the grass and crossed the finish (loving the fact that when you crossed the line the DJ read your name out!)

I checked my watch and with my time showing as 2.20 my initial thought was of disappointment – that was 2 mins slower than the GNR and I knew I had wasted so much time in the last mile. Then I looked back down the hill I’d just came up and thought that I really couldn’t be that disappointed considering the difficulty of the course and the fact that other than the last mile I had really enjoyed it so the time didn’t really matter that much.

We went back to the top of the hill and cheered Rob in who I must say was looking surprisingly strong up that final hill. Both Rob and Victoria both had excellent runs and other than the killer hills thoroughly enjoyed the course (and the gift shop!).

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable and well organised race that I will definitely do again and would encourage others to do so, I’ll just have to wait for GNR or Redcar half to beat my half PB!

Cronkley Fell, Holwick, Teesdale, Sunday, June 24, 2012

BM / 10.5m / 1752'

Dougie Nisbet and Paul Evans

First, Dougie Nisbet…

We arrived at the race HQ a full hour before kick-off and parked in a sycamore tree at the side of the lane. Escorted by a friendly entourage of midges I walked up to registration and reported for duty. I wasn’t sure how DFR were doing for helpers and had turned up nice and early in case I was essential to requirements. Apparently I wasn’t so there was nothing for it but to race. Everything was ticking over nicely with lots of marshalls on hand so I gave Paul the nod and he shoved a tenner over the table and we were entered. That just left 59 minutes to hang around and drink coffee and get bitten by the midges. Will showed up for a bit on his way to the relay and the clock quickly counted down to 11AM.

I surveyed the small field with trepidation. I often joke that in fell races I “count my position from the back” assuming that one day I shall stop having to do this calculation. I think I may have to wait awhile yet as a fearsome looking pack lined up for the briefing. It was a shame that the field only comprised 34 runners as it was looking like being a good day. There was to be a course alteration. A bit further up the track to go over the bridge rather than fording a gushing brook. This was disappointing but apparently the beck was in full spate and the organiser had decided that it would be too risky to take the usual line. He clearly thought there’s no use getting into heavy becking, it only leads to trouble, and seat wetting.

The race got underway and I tucked in at the back and was still at the back when Casper, Kayden and Will cheered me on at the top of the first brae. I’d been wanting to do this race for years ever since I did the recce a few years ago just before the race was revived. It struck me that despite being an out and back, the view and terrain looked so different depending on which way you were pointing it might just as well be a circular route. What I hadn’t expected was the added interest of seeing the fast guys coming back the other way as I approached the turn, and trying to work out how far I had still to go. You get to climb, clamber, squelch and spring through some great and varied Teesdale countryside on this course with a crocodile and a jelly baby waiting for you when you get to the halfway point.

On the way back, around the 8 mile mark, and not for from the back, I realised something that I’d hitherto only suspected. I really wasn’t very fit. Usually it’s cardio that holds me back in a fell race but today my muscles hurt. On the fast few miles descending to the finish I had time to reflect on how rapidly hard-earned fitness can fizzle away. I was still contemplating this when I crossed the line but soon the scent of the barbeque hit my nostrels and I heard the unmistakable call of Pluvialis apricaria from within the Stathmore Arms. Paul had a good race finishing fifth. I was happy to finish sixth, but counting from the other end.

Despite being a lonely spot this race isn’t particularly scary. The cut-off time for the half-way point is generous and most Striders could toddle round this 11 miles of dramatic and varied Teesdale fells comfortably. More folks should give this one a try.

…and Paul Evans

Ten minutes before the race and not so much as a twitch of competitiveness; no warm-up, no stretching, not even the usual feeling of slight nausea and tingling feet that tends to be the precursor to eben the shortest of races for me. Basically, Dougie, sat half-in/half-out of his car to make the most of the sun that was bathing Upper Teesdale, coffee mug on fold-up table and equally disinclined to make his way to the start-line, was showing me another way to prepare and I was enjoying it far more than my normal method of pacing and making repeated trips to the toilet. however, all good things come to an end and having paid the £5 entry-fee it would have been silly not to have run the scenic out-and-back course, particularly as we were being treated to a new variant, courtesy of the recent heavy rain that had apparently rendered one beck to dangerous to cross (meaning we had to spend a bit more time on the track heading out of Holwick before hitting the mud) and the Tees too high to take the traditional halfway dunk in; this added about half a mile to the course all-in.

There being only 34 runners, everything was kept extremely low-key, to the point that I barely heard the countdown to the start and set off about a third of the way down the pack, the plan being to take things fairly easy for the first two miles on the hard stuff and hope that the front-runners burned themselves out; I lasted half a mile, about the point where we passed Will H, Kayden and Kasper before realising that with such a small field this wasn’t really viable and it was probably best to just stick to a semi-comfortable pace for the first half and see how things went from there. The first couple of miles dragged and it was a relief, once a short clarty stretch linking the track to the path that forms the normal race route was negotiated, to be running on grass again, even if getting any kind of rhythm was made awkward by the frequent beck crossings; the first significant climb, subsequent descent through calf-deep water and long drag up onto the fell itself came as a relief as the ground got drier and the footing easier.

A pleasant undulating stretch over the rocky outcrops and alpine plants of the fell came and went, giving way to a sharp, wet descent to the flood-plain of the Tees. Covered in knee-deep grass and crossed by streams, with scant signs of a path, it was a case of follow-my-leader to the halfway flag, then back the way we’d come, passing outbound runners all the way to the top of the hill. Dougie looked surprisingly cheery as he waved a camera at me; i didn’t feel quite as good as he looked, having spent the climb reeling in the chasing pack. Now came the most enjoyable two miles of the race – mostly downhill, fast and, for me productive – I hit the bridge onto the track a narrow third, though this proved unsustainable, two of the runners I’d overtaken just proving too fast with hard ground under their feet. For some reason this section seemed to pass a lot faster than on the outward leg and the finish at the Strathmore Arms, at the bottom of the hill, came around quickly. There was barely time to stretch before more runners followed, including the female winner, Tamsin Clark of RZH in her first ever fell race, and a still-smiling Dougie.

Good beer and cheap burgers and a prize list that encompassed the entire field capped off a superb morning’s running – this race deserves a bigger field, even if waiting for the prizes did cost us the chance to get back in time for the relay – the one downside of the day.

Humber Bridge Half Marathon, Hessle, Sunday, June 24, 2012

Alister Robson

This was my third time running this Half Marathon and I think it’s safe to say I had unfinished business. The first time I ran it in 2010 I had my worst race ever, blowing up on a warm day and having to walk after less than half way. Last year I was determined to smash it but on one of the hottest days of the year, blew up and ended up walking just after 10 miles. I was one of the lucky ones and a lot of people collapsed, and unfortunately one runner, Matthew Good died.

As a result the organisers sensibly pushed the start back to 9am to avoid the worst of the heat. The law of unintended consequences kicked in and as a result it was chilly and raining as we stood on the start line.

After a moments round of applause for Matthew we were started by local hero Dean Windass and I determinedly took it steady. I was worried about not having enough miles in my legs as the longest run I’d done since the Sunderland marathon was 6.5 miles at Newburn and almost everything I’d done was short and fast. The advantage of getting used to 7 minute miling as the norm is that when you drop to 8 minute miling as I did here it feels so easy. The disadvantage is that after halfway it feels like a long way to go.

I was really pleased with my pacing resisting the urge to overtake, even when I knew I could easily and preparing myself mentally for the big climbs at 9 and 11 miles, both of which, with plenty of energy in the tank, were not as bad as I’d feared.

I crossed the line with a sprint in 1.44 dead by the race clock and got 1.43.43 on my chip. I even had a slight negative split. A great well organised and marshalled race with a nice big event feel and most importantly a medal!

Jacquie was also running and although she found it tough after a week of not feeling 100% and hence not able to train, she crossed the line in a very creditable 2.10, her third fastest ever half and I think it shows how much she’s improved, that she was disappointed with that.

Lambton 10K, nr Chester-le-Street, Sunday, June 24, 2012

Kate Macpherson

Given the grim weather, I nearly turned over in bed and ignored the alarm on Sunday morning but as a friend was picking me up for the Lambton 10k I couldn’t really get out of it. We arrived early and parked in a very muddy field, collected our race numbers (it was pretty obvious that a fair few people had been sensible and ignored their alarms as there was still a large pile of unclaimed race numbers in the marquee!) and then sat back in the car looking at the lashing rain and wondering if we really were mad…

The guys on the Sweatshop stand told us not to bother with our trail shoes as the race organisers had re-routed the course due to the muddy conditions and the race was going to be run over the estate roads and tracks rather than the fields. So at 10am, 185 runners ambled to the start and lined up in a fairly haphazard fashion and off we went. I was quite surprised (given my bad attitude at the beginning!) to find myself really enjoying myself. The course was a figure of 8 through the (usually private) Lambton Estate. It’s a mixed terrain event; we wound through wooded areas (on a really hot day these would be a real plus), right by the back door of the main house, along pretty river paths and on tracks around sheep fields. It had stopped raining and it was pretty warm, so it was great just to stretch out and enjoy running in such a beautiful part of the county that many people don’t get to see. A field of handsome highland cattle seemed a little surprised to see so many people belting past them. There were two fairly tough uphill sections (at least I only remember two!) but the last couple of K are flat then downhill which is always a bonus. I don’t think this is a PB course but if you fancy a fun off-road 10k with a bit of a challenge then this is one to try (saying that, I did take nearly 2 minutes off my Cragside 10k time which is similar terrain so I was rather chuffed! I am slowly chipping away at the race times). Many of those who had taken part last year said this year’s course was way better than last so hopefully the organisers will take note for the future. The course was really well marshaled by very friendly and encouraging stewards, there was plenty of water at half way and at the end. The rather wonderful WI ladies were doing a roaring trade in bacon butties, scones and cake both before and after the run, so thanks are due to them for turning out on such a grim day. A cotton t-shirt, mars bar and £10 sweatshop voucher seemed reasonable for a fairly low entry fee. Oh – and I have to mention that Lambton has the best portaloos I’ve ever been in! Flushing loos, hot water and posh hand cream…I suppose running on a private estate has to come with some extras…

(One slight niggle – a number of runners were not particularly happy about being asked to raise £20 charity sponsorship in addition to the entry fee. The organisers weren’t pushy about it if people didn’t bring any extra but the general feeling seemed to be that for such a small event, fundraising should be voluntary…no comment either way from me but just to be aware if you enter next year.)

Tees Barrage parkrun, Stockton-on-Tees, Saturday, June 23, 2012

Kevin Williams

Another new addition to the North East parkrun family launched in Stockton-on-Tees last week, named the Tees Barrage parkrun (big clue in the name) the race is based on the North Shore of the River Tees, just outside the Riverview Cafe. It’s an area I know well as the University has a campus on the other side of the river so a quick trip down the A1 was in order.

Inaugural parkruns are always good fun, a mixture of established parkrunners from other locations, the odd tourist who’s travelled a lot further and of course a smattering of first timers. Nobody seems to know what to expect, you can look at the course on the web, but it’s still difficult to visualise your run.

It’s an out and back course which I’m quickly beginning to realise is my favourite type. From studying the course I was expecting to head towards the town centre along the North Shore and return back on the South, so I was a little surprised when we headed over the impressive new Infinity Bridge not long after the start, ok, so it’s going the opposite to what I was expecting. After coming off the bridge the course hugs the river (water always on your right) before reaching the Millennium bridge, a sapping climb up a couple of dozen steps, across the bridge then turn for home and a 2-2.5km blast back to the finishing line.

A fast flat course which is exposed to the conditions, wind on this occassion, I followed Alister round the entire course, shame he wasn’t really trying and my tank was well and truly empty after a busy week, so 30 seconds outside PB time, I think this one has real PB potential.

Although Durham parkrun will always be ‘home’ for the majority of us, I’d encourage everybody to travel around a bit, we’ve got some cracking parkruns within 30 minutes drive of Maiden Castle. And there’s more to come in the next month or so.

Windermere to Wear Relay, Saturday, June 23, 2012

David Shipman, Nigel Heppell, David Catterick, Danny Lim

First, David Shipman…

To kick off the Charity relay Mike Bennett and I left Chester-le-Street at 6am heading for Bowness, spurred on by texts from Geoff which said in sequence 1.It’s very, very wet 2. It’s blowing a gale and we may have to review the bike ride leg 3. Great North Swim is cancelled. Only the third one, whilst a real disappointment for the club members planning on swimming, was positive for us, as it meant there would be less traffic and less commotion around Bowness.

Striders at the finish

…and now Nigel Heppell…

Leg 1: Windermere to Staveley, 5.74M

Atrocious weather for late June meant the postponement of the Great North Swim which was fortunate for us as we had chosen to meet in one of the designated car parks for that event. As it turned out, there was no shortage of parking space and the only sign of activity was a lone street-sweeping machine sending up a bow wave as it sloshed through the surface water.

Just before 9am the rain eased off and Dave S, Mike B and Benjy saw Nigel H and Geoff W dip a toe in the water of Windermere before setting off on leg 1 from the ferry landings at the western end of the Dales Way long distance path.

We had only gone a few hundred meters through town when I was surprised to see Geoff accost some poor girl struggling up the hill under a loaded rucksack and grab a quick embrace – it turns out that they do know each other! On and up we went to find the first bit of off-road track that led through some very scenic undulating countryside. Water featured large at every twist and turn, if we weren’t dodging puddles we were getting soaked from sodden grasses and nettles that had handily sagged over the track under the weight of rainwater in a most refreshing manner. All gullies, gutters, streams and rivers were alive with fast-flowing water.

It soon transpired that we had picked up the wrong map for this leg but decided to continue on memory and relying on this well-defined route to be well marked, which it was; most of the time; but not always. At one farmstead we spent a few minutes wondering which of two tracks to take before deciding on the one with slightly more bent grass. This could have been an illusion but turned out to be the right choice as we picked up the Dales Way signs several fields further on. There seemed to be a lot of cattle in the fields in this area, most of them with calves in tow, and in light of recent events in other parts of the country Geoff and I formulated a plan such that if we were pursued by an irate mother(I’m talking about the cows now, not the earlier incident in town) to sprint ahead together before each making a 90 degree turn in opposite directions at the last moment and in that way giving ouselves a 50/50 chance to avoid being pounded into the fellside mud.

And that is how it continued; up, down, left, right, until passing under the railway bridge at Staveley pretty much on time to meet once again with Dave and Mike who set off on Leg 2.

Leg 3: Grayrigg to Sedbergh, 8.31M

Geoff had obviously had enough of me by the time it came to start leg 3 as he swopped with Mike B who elected to continue straight through from leg 2 – two long legs together; quite appropriate really. This time we made sure we had the right map but I have to confess that neither of us had really studied it beforehand so there were regular halts to check that we were still on the correct route. Even so there were several places where the track seemed to dematerialise and no amount of staring at the map made any difference. Annoyingly, on the map someone had put a lot of red blobs along the relay route and some of the fine detail was obscured. Consequently we would enter a field at a Dales Way stile only to find ourselves trying to find a way through barbed wire fencing a few hundred metres further on. Likewise, near Beckfoot, on the map the Dales Way joined a road for (apparently) 100m before heading off onto a track on the other side of the road; could we find it? err, no, and so a long road leg followed which usefully helped bring us closer to schedule which had slipped a bit by this time. We lost the route later on at Branthwaite too.

Where the road from Beckfoot meets the River Lune there is a stunningly pretty collection of stone buildings and beautifully tended cottage gardens set off by a cascade of waterfalls(splendidly full today) and an old mill. The Dales Way continues along the banks of the Lune for a couple of kilometres before deviating uphill through Thwaite, Bramaskew and Branthwaite; each of these is a farmstead and the Dales Way passes right through the farmyard. Off to one side the bulk of the Howgills hills looked impressive with a dark cloud base skimming the tops. Somewhere shortly after the last of these buildings, although we were following what seemed to be the only well-defined track with public right-of-way signs, it became obvious we were once again going off-piste as the route was set to drop back down to the riverside when in fact we should have been ‘contouring’. Mike and I were tired by now and we decided to compromise by following a long-disused railway line rather than climb back uphill. Not marked as a right of way, the old line was still equipped with stiles where there were fences and made good running on the grassy surface kept short by sheep and rabbits until we came to a completely overgrown bridge that could not be passed.

From here we picked up a lane and soon joined the A684 main road for a steady jog and a bit of traffic-dodging over a couple of kilometres into Sedbergh where we were met by Jan and Benji just as the heavens opened and it began to pour down.

…back to David…

Carrot Cake by Candlelight anyone?

Sixteen hours later we were outside the Tan Hill Pub, trying to work out how 3 men, a dog, 6 sets of wet kit, 3 bags of food and 3 bags of clothes/camping gear/wet running shoes could fit into my campervan, as the gales were still blowing and Mike and Geoff had decided that pitching tents was not an option. Paul Gibson made the same decision earlier – not sure if it was chivalry or cowardice, but, faced by the scene of several flattened tents held down by stones, he volunteered to drive Mandy and Louise back to Cowgill and then home to comfy beds and dry surroundings, on condition that they all returned for leg 8 on Sunday.

We had survived running and cycling in horrendous conditions,we had placated Scarey Mary serving food in the pub,all meekly agreeing to have mash even though we had all ordered chips. We had enjoyed good company, a few beers, live music and George doing his fundraising bit with the Olympic Torch – how that worked its magic, with young and old all wanting a photo or a hold – but how would we get through the night?

Frantic piling up of gear ensued,in darkness apart from 2 headtorches and a candle on the front dash board, with the van swaying constantly as the wind and rain continued. Detailed negotiation established the boundaries – I am having a bed (me). I will need to get to the loo during the night (me). I will sleep anywhere as long as its not out there (Geoff). I don’t think I snore(Mike). I am happy to sleep with the dog (Mike).

In the end we were sorted,gear piled up to the van roof in every available space,Geoff and I “top and tailing” on the bed ,Mike in the front passenger seat in full recline,Benji (the dog) on the floor under the dashboard,with enough space to allow access to the loo and stove,comfortable enough for Mike to reveal a large slab of homemade carrot cake which we washed down with hot tea. Sleep was fitful, my trips to the loo, the continuing storms, the noisy party in the pub, 3 men and a dog tossing and turning in a very confined space and a strange, damp, soggy odour permeating the van, which strangely got worse and worse as the weekend progressed.

By daybreak the whole place smelt like a bag of ferrets, the van doors were flung open and under a blue sky with no rain we breakfasted al fresco in the company of two of Geoff’s friends, a pair of tame sheep who apparently grew up by the fire inside the pub. A good job he hadn’t met them the night before, as I haven’t a clue how we could have fitted them in as well!!

…and now David Catterick…

Leg 9: Eggleston to The Grove (Hamsterley), 5.77M

Arrived at Eggleston on a dry Sunday morning to meet a rough looking lot. (Apparently it rained yesterday). The plan was to run over the Dales to The Grove with Will. This I was looking forward to as I hoped to pick up some fell navigation skills (licking fingers, navigating by the sun etc etc). Well, Will arrived and announced that he was going to push his son`s bike up the hills (good handicap I thought) but it turned out the terrain was too bad.

Off we went. It was then that Will announced that his faithful GPS had just broken (What GPS?!) So it was down to good old map reading after all. Anyway, after we got lost and tracked back, we had a lovely run down into Hamsterley to meet up once again with the motley crew.

Leg 10: The Grove to Wolsingham, 5.17M

This time I ran with Barry Bird. Barry joined the Striders 25 years ago when he was 21. As we ran I learned a bit about the history of the club. This chit-chat distracted us from the Doctors Gate climb. Where was the nice cool rain when you need it? (More later!). The gate is called Doctors Gate as it was where supplies were handed over to villagers at times of Plague). After a lovely run down the road into Wolsingham we were cheered into the Market Place.

Leg 11: Wolsingham to Waterhouses, 7.77M

Girl Power! So it was that Sue J, Emma, Angela and myself headed up the hill out of Wolsingham towards Tow Law where Jan joined us. At Tow Law we found the off road route, which, in parts suggested that the OS maps needed updating! As we passed through a wood the rains started. (A bit too rainy thanks). Back on the road with a mile to go a search party of Dave ( bike) and John H ( running – what else) appeared. So it was we arrived at Waterhouses where we were greeted by the Final Leggers. Thanks to the organisers for another excellent weekend of fun and thanks to Georges Flame surely a record sum raised. Roll on next year!

…and finally Danny Lim

Legs 12 & 13: Waterhouses to Broompark to the Castle, 5.5M & 2.38M

I was doing the last 2 legs into Durham. I started off in Waterhouses joined by Angela Proctor, Claire Readey, John Hutchinson and Roz Layton. Dave Shipman and Stephen Garbutt were our bike escorts. It was a pleasant run along the bike paths. Though, the heavens soon opened and it became a puddle run. At least, I didn’t need to take a shower! At Broompark, we were joined by George Nicholson, Melanie Hudson and a few others, who i apologise for not naming. By now, it was all familiar territory. We paused briefly at Windy Gap before our final dash to the Castle. We were welcomed by friendly faces and to a round of applause.

It’s quite an achievement to run a relay all the way from Bowness to Durham. As far as I was concerned, I was doing the easy bit. David Shipman and Geoff Watson spent so much time organising this. We had a fantastic support crew too. And I must thank our supporters along the way. Last but not least, the best part was the company and being able to run alongside such great people. What a fantastic club!

Humbleton Fell Race, Wednesday, June 20, 2012

BS / 8.5km / 240m

Dougie Nisbet

Driving along the A69 I missed the turn for Newburn and continued west. My destination was Haydon Bridge for Humbleton Fell race, a new event organised by Tynedale & NFR. Promoted as a good taster for first-timers it was certainly a slick operation. A sign for the “Fell Race” jumped out at me as soon as I entered the village and finding the well-marshalled registration and parking was a doddle. Finding fell races is often a bit of a dark art and I can’t say I particularly approve of this modern trend of making fell races easy to find as I’m a bit old-fashioned on this sort of thing. A proper fell race should be in the middle of nowhere with no signs, no parking, no loos and no safety pins.

Dougie at Humbleton
photo courtesy and © Rob Stephens

The start was some way from registration and all the other runners were long gone. But I was adopting the well-proven strategy of following the organiser to the start, knowing that the race can’t go without them. (This is a top-tip for all the North York Moors races – as long as Dave Parry is still in the car park you know the race won’t start without him. Although he does sometimes drive to the Start which is a little unsporting).

The race began with the usual lack of fuss and we weaved our way through the cow pats and thistles and up the fell. A mile or so in and I’m feeling a bit warmer and settled and enjoying a woodland descent when I hear shouts behind me. Glancing back I realise I’ve missed a turn and I shout ahead to try and get the attention of the faster runners. Bizarelly I found myself baffled about what to say. It went along the lines of “Oi! Er, Runners! Er, Wrong Way! People, Er, Oi! Er!”. Feeling a bit of an arse I turned 180 and headed back to the missed turn. Half-expecting it to be poorly marked it was in fact well taped and impossible to miss. Unless you missed it of course. But User Error, basically.

There were lots of stiles and kissing gates around the short course with a lot of them being in the first couple of miles. These bottlenecks, or “mandatory rest stops” as I prefer to think of them, might be a problem for the faster runners but for me they were a welcome opportunity to get my breath back. Lots of variety on this short course including some genuine proper open fell and a fast downhill finish makes this a decent race course. With some of the route being on private land the race gives an opportunity to run in places that would normally not be possible.

With a nice biggish field with lots of abilities it took some time for all the finishers to arrive back and in the end I had to dash home. The various photos show prizes and refreshments afterwards and the large field along with an enormously diverse and interesting short course makes this a very non-threatening event for anyone wishing to give fell racing a try.