Monthly Archives: August 2012

Hamsterley Trail Race, Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dave Robson

Melanie and I had done the previous two races in this series. They had been at Chester-le-Street and Sedgefield and they had been largely flat routes. This one was definitely not flat, the start was steeply uphill for 0.6m. However, it did get a bit easier after that. There was also much fewer runners at this event than the previous two and most of them looked like experienced fell runners so I could see we we were not going to finish high up the small field.

The midgies were out and as usual in these races, there was a delay at the start so everybody was trying to bat the midgies away which didn’t really work.

We ran together up the hill wondering when it might flatten out and it was a relief when it did. We were making reasonable progress, but I could see Melanie was feeling particularly strong so she went on ahead and came in with 27min 22sec and we think she was third lady. I was about a minute later.

It was a very well marshalled, there seemed to be almost as many marshalls as runners and there was a nice fast downhill finish. It was cheap too, just £3!

Inclined To Madness, North York Moors, Wednesday, August 29, 2012

BM / 11km / 375m

Dougie Nisbet

Well, the clue’s in the name. Like many races produced by Dave Parry Productions, this one was bordering on the barking. Those unfamiliar with his production values might have been slightly bewildered by the seemingly random nature of the plot but for regular Parry buffs it was all re-assuringly familiar. We knew he was only half-joking when at the Start he asked the faster runners to wait at the Finish if they got there before Dave did. Seeing as how the Finish was, bafflingly, a long way from the Start. It was, for that matter, a long way from anywhere.

At the Start I bumped into Mike Bennett, who thankfully had a reserve of safety pins to compensate for my paltry collection of none. We chatted about this latest addition to the Dave Parry franchise and wondered how it would unfold. When we got underway I began to see the familiar trademarks, such as the marker tapes that appeared at random points along the clearly defined trackways, but disappeared whenever you got somewhere where they might have actually been useful, such as a corner, or junction, or checkpoint. Presently we got the to the hook, the Incline. A long straight no nonsense climb. It was one of those climbs where you’re never quite sure the optimum point to stop running and start walking. During my running bit up the early phase of the climb I thought of Alan Purvis’s report for the (not flat) Kielder Marathon, where he “ran every step of the way” and I decided I would try to do the same here. I got about half-way up the incline before I got to the point where my running was slower than other runners’ walking, so I walked. I managed to convince myself that it was simply more efficient and faster to walk than run, rather than I just couldn’t run.

photo courtesy and © David Aspin

Over the top of the incline to Checkpoint 3, which like Checkpoints 1 and 2 were marked with invisible tape, and I kept the folk in front in sight and assumed that someone was following someone else who was following someone else who knew where they were going. Heading back along the Cleveland Way we were treated with occasional panoramic views that give North York Moors fell races their special magic on summer evenings. A detour via checkpoint 4 at Round Hill trig point, back onto the Cleveland Way, and finally a sharp right-hander down to the finish which, unsurprisingly, was at a gate, next to a bit of heather, next to nothing of consequence, in the middle of nowhere in particular.

Despite it being a sunny calm evening I knew I would cool down quickly, so rather than wait at the finish I walk/jogged the mile or two back to the Start, but which time it was dark and cold despite putting on the contents of my bum bag. I run hot, and get cold quickly. Normally I would hang around for the presentation but it was cold, dark and getting late and I wanted my tea, so I headed home.

This is a race for trail-runners – good surfaces, clear tracks, with a long straightforward slog up the incline. The remoteness of the Finish didn’t suit me and I’d rather have finished back at the Start, but I’m guessing that the idea is to make it a 10K race. Fans of the Lakeland Trail Races should give this one a go.

Fleetwood Half Marathon, Sunday, August 26, 2012

Graeme Walton

I entered this half marathon as part of my training for Liverpool Marathon in October. Having read some reviews from previous years and checked out the course profile it appeared to be nice and flat which was what I was looking for. A nice early start for the journey following a 5:30am alarm call! I was on the road for 6am with my wife and little girl for support. I had anticipated the journey would take around two and a half hours so with a race start time of 10am time was on our side. After a very pleasant drive we arrived at race headquarters at 8:30am. I went into the local sports centre to collect my race number and then we found time to take a stroll along the beach.

As race time approached we headed back to the car park to pin on my number and I also tried to eat a sports bar, of which I only managed half (its like trying to chew through plasticine!). Then it was off for a pre-race toilet stop which was tricky as there were only seven toilets for 400 runners! Following a briefing we were off and running. As normal following a glance at my garmin my pace slightly to fast over the opening few hundred metres so I eased off slightly and began to settle into a nice rhythm. I was hoping to average 7:30 per mile yet as the race moved on everytime I checked my pace I was a little ahead of schedule. We left the seafront where the race had started and headed down a road that ran parallel with the sea. For the first 6 miles I felt quite comfortable however things were about to change. At the 6 mile point the route changed direction and we were now running on a path that hugged the seafront. Whilst it was beautiful to look at unfortunately it was into quite a strong headwind. This lasted a painful three miles until we turned and headed for home. It was now wind-assisted but I was starting to feel tired now. The last part of the race was flat thankfully. I was overjoyed to see the 13 mile marker and following a bit of a sprint finish I was chuffed to set a time of 1:35:07 which was a new PB.

A very flat course for anyone who fancies a ride out for a PB. Three water stations are spead equally around the course and the marshals were great. A medal, banana and a wagon wheel was a poor reward for £17 (I wasn’t a Strider when I entered) however I would certainly recomend the race.

Havant parkrun, Saturday, August 25, 2012

Kevin Williams

Saturday mornings without a parkrun just don’t feel right anymore, so despite being 320 odd miles from home I still managed to find a parkrun within 30 minutes of my Bank Holiday weekend base. I did my homework via the parkrun website and facebook, Havant parkrun was to be my destination.

Arriving at Staunton Country Park we left the car in the car park over the road, although the £2 charge seemed expensive the ticket did split in two and became a voucher for £1 off in the Park’s cafe, a good idea. Havant parkrun is fairly new and this would be only their tenth event. A decent crowd of 73 people turned up, including a 100 t-shirt, 3 x 50 t-shirts and an impressive 30 odd first timers. The run briefing was very informative including a name check for each and every volunteer, although I didn’t get a chance to say how far away from home I was, sad smiley face! At the completion of the briefing we made the short walk to the start and then we were off. It’s a three lap course with one small lap of the lawns and then two larger laps through the woods. The run briefing warned the runners of a step loose downhill section which we were advised maybe easier to walk on, looking forward to that bit!

The short lap of the lawns was completed very quickly, I bravely set off with the lead group of a dozen or so people, we got to the steep downhill section and although being wet underfoot the loose stone surface was manageable at a reasonable speed. Once that was completed I attempted to get into some sort of rhythm and settle into the run. I always find it difficult to get pacing right at a new event, you never know what’s round the corner. At the end of the first mile I knew this was going to be a hard run. The weather was fine, but the surface was tricky, a mixture of gravel, grass and large loose stones that were still wet from earlier rain, there was also a long uphill section back up to start through the dense forest. I was regretting my choice of footwear, my Adidas Kanadia would have been well at home on this surface. The lead group quickly split up and on my second slower lap half a dozen or so more experienced Havant parkrunners passed me as I started to fade fast.

At the end of the second lap I pulled myself together and finished strongly (yup!) in 18th place, although 25 seconds behind the 17th place finisher. Looking at my Garmin data the Havant course is roughly the same elevation gain/loss as Sunderland parkrun, but the trail like surface made it a much harder run. So Havant parkrun replaces Saltwell parkrun as my hardest 5k to date, I’ll definitely return for another crack at this one in the future though.

Ultra Race Peaks, Peak District, Tuesday, August 21, 2012

40 miles

Anna Seeley

I’d entered this race slightly on a whim, as you do when you’re bored on the internet and looking for a new challenge. The word Peaks in the title attracted me and I hadn’t done a 40 miler before so a guaranteed PB as a bonus. As the race drew closer I thought I’d better actually look at it in a bit more detail and discovered that a large proportion of it was along disused railway lines. Now railway lines aren’t notoriously hilly so I lulled myself in the false sense of security that I was in for a fairly flat ride. It was the first time that the race had been held so no previous race reports to go by and although I’d been to the Peak District as a kid my memory of the area was rather patchy.

Day dawned with patchy cloud. Forecast was for sun after weeks of rain, but the hope was it wouldn’t get too hot. Registration at 7 and then we were bussed to the start at Cromford Meadows. The race briefing included a warning not to go too fast over the early sections due to the hills, ok so it isn’t going to be as flat as I first thought it might be.

First mile was along a canal then it was onto the steep climb of the High Peak trail. Even at just after 9 in the morning the sun was already beating down and temperature rapidly rising. After a mile of climbing it was onto more traditional railway track, very slight inclines and declines, punctuated with another couple of shorter but still fairly steep climbs up to checkpoint 1 at 10 miles. I’m no fan of railway tracks as I find them pretty monotonous but I have to admit that this one wasn’t too bad as the surface was very smooth, nothing to trip over, so you could admire the views which were stunning. Unfortunately checkpoint 1 was wasp heaven so it was a quick in and out avoiding being stung.

Shortly after the checkpoint we left the track and headed over fields to join the Tissington trail, another disused line. This one was a lot busier with cyclists so it was a matter of keeping your wits about you to avoid any accidents. There was very little shade and it seemed to be getting hotter by the second. Just as I was running out of water and the will to keep moving because of the heat checkpoint 2 came along with much needed water supplies and coke, ultra running nectar. The sugar in the coke soon kicked in and it was on towards Ashbourne (22 miles), the end of the Tissington trail and the end easy flatness of the railway lines.

Ashbourne was buzzing with people, being a beautiful day in the summer holidays, but navigation was easy due the very clear markings both on the ground and every lampost. The climb out of Ashbourne seemed to go on for ever up lots of steps and at this point my head started to let me down. My legs felt fine but I was overheating badly, drinking loads but not able to face any food. Once the climb was over with the next section had some lovely running through the countryside, along paths and little country lanes and though a few villages with very tempting pubs. If it wasn’t for the fact that I knew Phil O was manning the next checkpoint the temptation might have been too much and I might have stopped for a beer but I ploughed on and eventually got to checkpoint 3 (30ish miles).

Onto the last section, the well named Long Lane. Yes it was long and yes it was fairly straight so you could see where you were going but it was unfortunately not flat. The combination of the heat, lack of food and now protesting legs made the 7 mile stretch feel like a marathon all on its own. Only positive that kept us going was the fact that we knew once it was done we really were onto the home straight with just 3 miles back into Derby. Other than a few stiles that the legs weren’t keen on by this stage and some cows that decided to check whether we could still run as they shot towards us the last section was very pleasant and we were back into the city and the finish.

The sense of achievement on finishing was great as it had been a tough day at the office. The race was fantastically organised, had a very laid back friendly atmosphere, with great marking of the course so there were no concerns of getting lost and ever cheerful marshalls at the checkpoints. On a cooler day it would have been perfect.

Northumbrian Coastal Marathon, Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sue Jennings

I had really been looking forward to this marathon as I had been told it was one of the nicest marathons that you can do and I remember months ago booking it with Angela because John H had said he was going to do it and I was jealous – I don’t like to miss out lol.

Anyway as it turned out I started on my own (not that I would have been able to keep up with John or Angela anyway) and I knew that although I could probably keep up with Dave R, that if I did I would pay for it big style later on in the run. I also hadn’t done enough training having only ran a maximum of 15 miles in the last 2 months which is nowhere near enough for a marathon.

The weather was scorching and after a couple of miles I really thought that I might not make it. The terrain was really tough – sand then thin overgrown paths with nettles sometimes as high as your face (a bit like the summer BBQ run) and no shade from the sun. I was lucky enough though to meet a couple of other runners who I tagged along with and managed to stay with until the half way point. I told them to go on and leave me there as I really thought I would have to walk parts of the way back but Sharon said she would prefer the company. She was running the marathon for St James Hospital in Leeds and had raised £1500.

We got to about 15 miles and fortunately the weather had changed a little and the sun had gone in – what a relief that was. I was also suffering at this point from severe friction burns under my arms as I was wearing my striders vest and I have only ever worn it for short runs before. At one of the water stations I asked if they had any Vaseline but the only thing they could find was a lip balm stick. This belonged to one of the runners and I said I hoped they were going to tell him not to use it again on his mouth after it had been used on my armpits, but they said he would never know the difference!

We made it to the end in 5 hours and 44 – a bit slower than I had hoped but in the scheme of things, we ran the vast majority of the way, in the heat and with not enough training so I can only feel proud that I have now completed my eighth marathon and of course there is always next year to get a better time lol.

This is a beautiful course and a well organised event which is pretty easy to follow and not get lost (you know what my map reading skills are like) and I would definitely recommend it if you are interested in doing marathons. It is however nothing like a road marathon and definitely not a PB course.

Isle of Coll Half-Marathon, Friday, August 17, 2012

Jan Young

George Nic’s idea, ‘Does anyone want to run a 1/2 marathon on Coll?’ George and family had a week on island in rented cottage, so Dave Shipman and Lyn, Tony and I planned our own holidays around the race.

He's not letting that thing out of his sight ... Here’s what’s on offer:

  • Accomodation, no problem – you can park your camper van on any spare land, grass verge.
  • Free camping on Community hall field.
  • Showers in bunkhouse-this already fully booked for 2013 races.
  • Hospitality overflowing, everyone chats to everyone.
  • Loch Fyne real ale at new Community Hall so tasty.
  • Ceilidh for those inclined or just sit in bar/ communal area and watch races slideshow.
  • Choice of 5k,10k, 1/2 marathon run, 1/2 marathon walk.
  • Transport to 5k,10k start-in a trailer.
  • 1k kids’ run – won by G’s grandson, Oscar.
  • Undulating courses, some parts windy, scenery beautiful.
  • Frequent water/wine/whisky stops, manned by ‘interesting’ locals, including glam goths, black basques and all. They made Tony and Dave smile.
  • Post-race breakfast choices.
  • Post-race sports massage.
  • Medal and T-shirt.
  • Brilliant organisation.

Total participants in events 317 – island population 150!

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Ciaran Dougherty Bellahouston Road Runners M 1:19:12
4 Eilis McKechanie Hunter’s Bog Trotters F 1:28:23
117 Jan Young F 2:11:46
137 David Shipman M 2:21:20
153 George Nicholson M 2:37:35

156 finishers.

Darlington 10K, Sunday, August 12, 2012

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

Simon Gardner

Grand Prix Race. Sprint Champion Race.  Despite hearing good reports of this race over the years i had never ran this so after some decent parkrun times and a 10K PB at Tynedale i thought this would be ideal to see if i could improve on my Tynedale time.

Paul and Angela picked me up and together with Katherine we made our way down to Darlington. After we arrived the main square was already full of runners with many recognisable faces from local clubs and Durham parkrun.

Before the off ... Speaking of which my original plan was to have a nice steady parkrun the day before but by the time I’d reached the noisy bridge I was already being a bit too competitive and ended up finishing in 19:41 my second quickest time at Durham which was probably not the most sensible thing to have done but you all know what its like!

In a short while we were lined up and set off. I found the first mile ok but was finding it a struggle during mile two which felt like a nightmare when you have well over 4 mile to go. I still don’t really know why this part was so hard my pace was ok but I felt like I was struggling with the conditions which were on the warm side to say the least.

Thankfully at mile 2 there was a water station and at which I grabbed a quick drink of water then poured the rest over me after doing this I felt so much more comfortable and the last few miles were much more enjoyable. The course is a basically a two lap course and is relatively flat. At the end of the second lap you peel off and head back to the main square and finish line. I crossed the finish line slightly hot and bothered but in a new pb time of 40:31 which i was really pleased with.

Paul followed in not long after me also in a PB time and Katherine just a little outside her target time but she also found it very warm. I would definitely do this race again its fairly flat , well organised , good support for a 10K and has good PB potential.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Yared Hagos Wallsend M 30:24
19 Rosie Smith Durham City Harriers F 34:54
108 Simon Gardner MV40 40:31
181 Graeme Walton MV40 43:02
234 Paul Pascoe MV40 44:33
253 Stephen Garbutt MV40 45:02
287 Richard Hockin MV60 46:03
321 Alister Robson MV40 46:50
340 Aaron Gourley M 46:49
408 David Spence MV60 48:12
475 Carly Trower F 49:53
503 Chris Hedley MV50 50:25
508 John Greathead MV45 50:12
553 Melanie Hudson F 51:11
569 Greta Jones FV45 52:15
583 Danny Lim M 52:17
588 Claire Readey FV35 52:45
624 Jan Young FV55 53:15
644 Brian Ford MV40 53:10
668 Katherine Preston FV40 54:13
671 Megan Bell FV35 54:30
701 Peter Brooks MV40 55:10
761 Jim Nicholson MV65 56:26
762 Anita Clementson FV40 55:59
778 Sue Jennings FV45 57:20
783 Emma Detchon FV35 57:26
879 Jill Ford FV45 58:35
886 Mike Elliott MV65 59:01
901 Alex Probert FV40 59:09
927 Jacquie Robson FV35 60:41
1026 Lindsey Brooks FV40 64:10
1059 Pippa Coffer F 65:50
1141 Elizabeth Dick F 72:46

1166 finishers.

Forest Burn Fell Race, Simonside Country Fair, Sunday, August 12, 2012

BS / 2M / 100' (shortened course)

Nigel Heppell

A herd of bovine muggers lurking out of sight over the brow of the hill awaiting their opportunity to pounce on some unsuspecting human fell runners were outwitted today by race-director Will Horsley who introduced a last-minute change and shortened the course to a 2 mile out-and-back route instead of the 5-ish mile loop we were expecting. He still managed to squeeze in some nettles and thistles, mud, knee-deep river crossing, long grass and low tree branches, and a 100m climb.

It seemed to take longer than the actual time of about a quarter hour so we didn’t feel cheated, and that left more time to enjoy the Simonside Country Fair with its cumberland wrestling, stick dressing, corn grinding, proggy matting,and birds of prey, all in the company of myriad manic dogs of many breeds accompanied by their owners likewise.

A low key event with entry fee purely by voluntary donation in support of the Great North Air Ambulance.

Isle of Mull Half-Marathon, Sunday, August 12, 2012

Kathryn Sygrove

Three words come to mind in connection with this race – coincidence, care, and celebration.

I had gone on holiday expecting to be “invisible” and certainly the only Northern lass there. But within minutes, Malcs spotted a Sunderland Stroller vest which turned out to belong to Joy Champion, who I had never met before, but got along with nicely. Coincidence. We picked up numbers and bright orange tees, and went out for a few pix in the warm sunshine, before jogging up to the start.

Kathryn and Joy. This was about a mile out of Craignure, where the ferry docks from Oban, and we started basically in the road. A midday start meant it was well warm and a bit humid too. The race went back to Craignure, then another half mile past it, before turning back round Iona (the person not the island) and heading back through Craignure, past the start point, and following pretty undulating and uneven open roads back to Salen, the finish.

It always takes me 3-4 miles to settle into a race, even with a wee warm-up, but after a mile I wasn’t right. It was indeed hot, I started with a steady pace and waved at Malcs and the kids in Craignure, plodded up the hill round Iona, and threw my running cap at Malcs on the way back past them again. Malcs told me at the finish that, even at this point, he knew I was struggling. He was right. Leaden legs and feeling nauseous, I couldn’t get into my stride. And I don’t do heat well either. I mentioned this at the water station at 3 miles, where I could have happily stopped, but knew I hadn’t given myself long enough, so vowed to plod on until halfway. The marshalls were very supportive and (without me knowing) radioed ahead to other stations so they knew I wasn’t so good. Here comes the care element.

The views across the sea were marvellous, the scenery beautiful, but it was a tough road and didn’t come across as “mainly flat” as billed by the race organisers. The nausea didn’t abate by 5 miles, nor did the heat, so I stopped for a minute to re-assess how I felt. Runners-by shouted encouraging words, including a lass from Gateshead, then the Coastguard drove slowly by and checked up on me. He reminded me of the water stations with medical facilities every three miles, and I said I would take it easy in the heat.

At mile 6, the marshalls were expecting me, and their support helped me rally. It was starting to cloud over a bit, which helped too. The undulating roads continued, and I plodded on till I saw a sign for a campsite about 7 miles, which Malcs and I had stayed at many moons ago, and my heart jumped at something familiar. Most of the scenery was still close to the coast now, some trees, some odd houses dotted about, and a big downhill appeared which made me happy!!! The Coastguard had still been going back and forth, waving, smiling and nodding as if to say “I see you are still going there” but the miles weren’t going any faster! In retrospect, I don’t think the iron infusion had kicked in, and I simply had insufficient energy and oxygen in my blood, so had to rest at times for plenty of liquid and start off slowly again.

That big hill had helped and mile 9 came around fairly soon, but I was done in by 10. Enough, I thought, and route-marched half a mile as it started to rain gently. Other runners were very kind as they passed me, and echoed the concern of the marshalls, and Coastguard. After that, mile 11 came quite soon, and I knew I just had to pace myself slowly and I would finish. At mile 5, I could have cheerfully stood still and been driven to the finish. The Coastguard passed me here again with a wave and a “Keep going, nearly there”. My mindset altered as I focussed on getting to mile 12, then 13, and my pace quickened a little as we entered Salen. After a bit of an up, then another down, I could see the finish line, up a small incline, and pelted as hard as I could to the end. It was just over 2 hours, but I was delighted to finish at all. Celebration.

Once again, the marshalls and medics were waiting for me. A medic put his arm round my shoulder and asked how I was. I still felt sick, and off we went in to get some dioralyte. I was touched by the consistent care of the emergency services and volunteers, who had watched out for me all the way, the medic told me. I thanked him and asked him to pass my thanks to the Coastguard who had pretty much kept me going throughout. The medal had a sort of Olympic flame on it, it being the last day of the Olympics, and I wore it that afternoon and all the next day. Unfortunately, once we got to Tobermory, I was sick all over a coffee shop floor. But still pleased as punch that I had completed the race.