Monthly Archives: December 2012

25th Anniversary Jolly Holly Jog, Ripon, Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dave Robson

This is one of my favourite races. It is almost all offroad, through lovely countryside, through fields, woods and a deer park. It has some hills, but nothing too bad.

We left Durham where it was sunny and cold. As we drove south we could see dark clouds ahead and we passed through a couple of heavy rain squalls. Luckily they didn’t last long, but they kept on coming for the rest of the morning.

We parked up next to the rugby fields (Race HQ was in the rugby clubhouse) and saw that the fun run was in progress. We saw a Striders tee shirt and thought that somebody must have brought their children with them and was running round with them. We got to the clubhouse to see Emma and Bill running alone coming into the finish They were disappointed that they hadn’t won their age categories as they were the only adult entrants ! (prizes were for runners up to 12 years old only). They had misread the start times of the races, got there two hours early and thought they would enter the fun run to pass the time ! Hopefully one of them will do a separate race report 😉

The start is a a ten minute walk from Race HQ and we tried to time it so we wouldn’t be hanging around getting wet and cold. That worked fine and we were off on time and into the mud. There was lots of it, I haven’t seen the course that muddy before. The hill at 3m seemed tougher than usual with the mud. As we approached the stable block, the deer were quite close and all together in a enormous herd, I hadn’t seen them all together before. A bit later I almost fell as my roclights couldn’t cope with the heavy mud on a downhill, but I managed to stay upright with no damage done. As usual the marshalls at this event were friendly and encouraging.

We came in just over the hour which was fine on this course and we wanted to take it easy. Then it was off to a restaurant for something to warm us up, we both got very cold very quickly after the finish. Rachel Terry, Bill and Emma all had a fine runs. We all received a mug in the goody bag to commemorate the 25th running of this lovely event.

Finsbury Park parkrun, London, Saturday, December 29, 2012

Simon Gardner

When the football fixtures came out in June I pretty much decided that I would combine a trip to London for the football and also finally get to do the biggest and first parkrun at Bushy. After a little investigation I decided reluctantly that the journey would be a bit too long, I did not fancy standing around on a train/tube station in shorts and striders t-shirt in the middle of winter so after a little look about I decided that one of the smaller parkruns might be good and at 7:30am I was out the hotel door on my way to Finsbury Park. After getting 3 tube trains (thanks TfL) I stepped out the tube and virtually straight into Finsbury park. There was no one around so i did a long warm-up awaiting everyone to turn up at the cafe, its years since I had been and it looked fairly a nice park. The course is 2-lapper which is tarmac all the way. We had a quick briefing and we were soon on our way, the start is downhill which is nice but that soon changes and you begin a shallow but longish climb up to the entrance area of the park. I had been out injured for what feels like ages with a calf strain so decided to start steadily and pick off as many runners as I could. As you head towards the end of the first lap there is a steep climb and goodness I could feel it after no proper training for an age.

Now …

It’s probably only fair to point out that the day before we left for London my friend had booked a table at Claridges for dinner on the Friday night. So my athlete diet consisted of Claridges game pie with Cumberland sauce, Atlantic cod with roast parsnips and gemolata, warm chocolate fondant with hazelnut and pear compote and petit fours to finish washed down with two champagne cocktails a James Bond in Moscow and a raspberry bellini.

After careful consideration I can cast iron guarantee that Mo Farah would have won nowt at the Olympics if he had my meal the day before but blimey I fuelled up in style. I eventually crossed the finish line in 6th position in 20:36 which in the circumstances was not too shabby I guess given my thoroughly unprofessional but very enjoyable preparation? If your wondering the set meal was £41 and fantastic but I don’t recommend racing the next day 😉

PS. Can we just gloss over Newcastle’s thumping and hideous journey home (thanks Eastcoast).

Guisborough Woods Fell Race, Thursday, December 27, 2012

BS / 8.8km (usually) / 376m

Jan Young

photo courtesy and © David Aspin

Two Striders at Guisborough Woods race on 27th Dec. New 11k route due to logging, still included two ascents of quarry side, a short loop and a longer loop.

Susan won her age group, 3 bottles of wine for £7 entry fee. That’s value! And series points!

[ Jan also won her age group! Ed. ]

Just to add, Mike Bennett was 3rd MV50 in 2012 summer series, and Jan Young, 2nd FV55. Both presented with Roseberry Topping mugs and certificates.


Christmas Handicap, Sunday, December 23, 2012

Pam Kirkup

Assorted Crimes of Fashion. After several days of deluge and horrendous storms, I wasn’t holding out much hope for the Christmas Handicap actually happening. However MC said they were open and the car park wasn’t flooded so maybe Santa was smiling on us! Got there early to check part of the course – the part I expected to be the most muddy. It was pretty boggy but nothing that Mudman and Mudwoman couldn’t cope with so I went back to the car park and just hoped somebody would turn up! … And they did!

Fashion criminals from all decades kept on arriving! Some stunning and astonishing costumes emerged making it very difficult for Santa and his Elves to choose Fancy Dress winners. Then there was the annual dispute about handicap times! I have to say some of the ‘predictions’ were unrealistic (some would say dishonest!) in the extreme! But then we had to take into account the restrictions caused by cumbersome costumes, accompanying children and the very muddy conditions on parts of the course. And hey, it’s a fun event so who cares who wins? (!!)

Once Santa arrived and the bran tub was filled we got going. Passing drivers were amused and entertained by the spectacle and Santa worked the traffic to get as many smiles, waves, horns hooted and police car blue lights to flash.

The first finisher was Richard Hall in 42.33. A steward’s inquiry was demanded from some quarters but in the true spirit of Christmas there was good will to all men! Other results and times below. At the Court Inn there was a good turn-out of runners, supporters and helpers. The prizes were awarded as follows:

  • Race Winner – Richard Hall 42.33
  • Fastest Time – Adam Walker 31.39 Junior
  • Fastest Male – Mike Bennett 36.03
  • Fastest Female – Megan Bell 37.10

Fancy Dress Winners:

  • Male – Dougie Nisbet a stunning David Bowie Ziggy Stardust style
  • Female – Melanie Hudson Madonna in the gold basque!!

Runners up:

  • Paul Beal, Jean Bradley, Dave Robson, Anita Clementson

Spot Prizes:

  • Jan Young, Kathryn Preston, Andrew Thompson, John Greathead.

All children got some chocolate in a mini selection box. Thanks to Santa and his Elves, to Carole Seheult for helping at the finish, to Phil Owen for checking out the course and taking pictures, to Dougie for finding time to take pictures on the run!, to David for MCing at the pub and of course to Harry for his support and prizes.

Poised on the starting line ...Absolutely criminal.

Saltwell 10K, Saturday, December 22, 2012

David Brown

I woke up ready for this race, I’d managed to fend off any bugs, and legs were rested from the hilly Poultry Run the previous week. I arrived at Saltwell fairly early to give time to park, and did intend to have a slow jog to warm myself up, and watch the early race finishing. The weather, however, had different ideas. Rain had arrived, in bucket loads, and it did not look like stopping. It also brought with it a fine wind, which nipped and whipped the face, ears, legs, everything.

I headed straight to the registration, the 50 yard walk from the car was enough to soak me through, and it was proper rain, good old North East weather. Resigned to the fact I couldn’t get any wetter, I stood in line, got my number and race chip. I then proceeded to attempt to attach said number and chip, whilst drenched, glasses steamed, in a crowded room with 300 other runners all elbowing for space. But all with raised spirits.

photo courtesy and © Sportypix

I’ve ran around Saltwell park many times, but never ran this race. So I was aware of the ups and downs. We were shepherded into a back lane of sorts, like confused sheep, all facing different directions, bouncing up and down trying to keep warm, good friendly banter from all sides. A muffled announcement crackled over a megaphone, and we set off on the 3.5 laps.

I set off far too fast, following the herd as we roller coasted up and down the winding sharp path, by the time we had finished the first lap I had a word with myself and settled into a pace. The rain hammered as we ran, puddles and mud formed obstacles, and we kept swimming. An error with my watch meant I had no idea what time I was on, so I struggled to find my pace, also I had to remove my glasses, so I was essentially running blind. By the end of the 2nd lap I started to feel good, I was running steady, strong and comfortable. The sharp corners and slippery descent from the wet leaves meant you couldn’t pick up much speed, and what speed you did have was soon haltered as you hit the hills.

I was aware of shouts and encouragement from fellow Striders as I ran the course, and looked forward to hearing them as I ran each lap. It really made the difference and their voices were very welcome in such dismal conditions.

We undulated for 3 laps, before a final detour took us around the lake, allowing for a sprint finish. A carrier bag containing a miniature whisky & glass was thrust into our hands as we crossed the line. Like good old British we then stood very politely in a queue, in the mud, to collect our race time. I was very happy with my time of 47:54, a PB for me over 10k. A great race to end the year.

Tour De Helvellyn, Saturday, December 22, 2012

BL / 60km / 2000m

Tom Reeves

This race is in its 3rd year and is a race for runners who are able to navigate and look after themselves in the mountains in difficult conditions. It is always run on the shortest Saturday of the year so being able to move quickly is an advantage. I think its going to become a classic.

However as I sat in the Travelodge the night before the race watching the weather I really did not want to do the run the following day. Torrential rain and strong winds! Err no thanks!

I did this event in 2011 with Geoff Davis and I was doing it again with Mr Davis. We set off from Askam village hall at 7.30 in full waterproofs top and bottom and finished many hours later in full waterproofs. We set off with another runner Chris Little who runs with NFR and set off with us the previous year. The weather was wet but not as wet as expected and although the wind was cold it was not too strong.

The race itself is 38 miles on pretty good tracks most of the way passing through Howtown on Ullswater then Patterdale via Boardale Hause (the first big climb of the route). Timing is pretty important as checkpoint 2 at Patterdale does not open till 9.30 am and you must pass back through it on the return journey no later than 4pm. Our timing was pretty much spot on on the way out and we hit the checkpoint just after 9.30 going at a nice comfortable pace. We stayed together as far as the climb up sticks pass when myself and Geoff pulled slightly ahead of Chris. I felt the cold for the first time as we hit the snow line and spent the next 15 minutes or so running through ankle deep ice cold water. I contemplated putting more clothes on but didn’t bother deciding the decent to Thirlmere would warm me up as we lost height. It did. Heading out from checkpoint 4 at Stanah Gill Geoff jogged along eating a gel while I chomped on a pasty can you guess who enjoyed their top up more?

Myself and Geoff swapped taking the lead all along Thirlmere which is always longer than expected. I pulled away from Geoff on the steep climb up Raise Beck to Grisedale Tarn, I was going quite well till I took a tumble on the run down from the tarn to Grisedale and back to Patterdale. I somehow managed to trip on the worst bit of ground clattering my dodgy knee. I lay on the ground sure I’d smashed my kneecap. After a couple of minutes and several expletives I took a few tentative steps and boy did they hurt. I kept at it and managed to pick up the pace catching a group of runners I’d been tailing for some time.

The rest of the run from Patterdale is the reverse of the start of the race and fairly runnable once you’ve got back up over Boardale Hause. By the time I got to Howtown I knew I was going to better my time of last year and so I did finishing in 8hours and 25minutes. 35 minutes better than 2011. This was down to better running conditions and not better running I might add.

Geoff came in not long after me bettering his time by even more than me. After race food was fantastic loads of home baked cake lots of mugs of tea and very tasty homemade carrot soup.

This is a great event and clearly others agree as the race has doubled in entry numbers since last year. I think it might be a regular for me.

Loftus Poultry Run, Sunday, December 16, 2012

7.8 miles

Kathryn Sygrove

I decided to do this race because it was on my birthday and fancy dress! I quite liked the idea of the mixed terrain, road and muddy fields, and just wanted to do something different somewhere different.

I went with Kate MacPherson, and we saw Ali, David Brown and David Catterick there, as well as lots of Sunderland Strollers. Many people were dressed up – elves, Christmas Puds (as was I thanks to Denise), Little Miss Muffett, Santas, and we collected race numbers on the day to the sound of Christmas carols by a band. I found my obligatory cup of tea, and we decided what best to wear.

Beaming in the sun. The race started on road, included three hills, and was interspersed with two well muddy fields, where I just laughed as we wondered how to get across them without falling on our butts. They were deeply furrowed fields and your feet just slithered everywhere, caked with extra weight of mud stuck to your shoes! But it was good fun, the sun was shining even if there was a nip in the air, and at times we came across some lovely views looking across to Saltburn-by-the-Sea.

The last 2 miles were back on road, slightly undulating, then a nice downhill finish. One woman overtook us at about 6.5 miles and said we were an inspiration – she had followed me and Little Miss Muffett all that way, and I think she was referring to us running in costume!! Kate and I kept overtaking and falling behind a guy in a yellow hat, who seemed to struggle the last mile or so. We offered for him to stick with us and he did indeed do that and we pretty much all crossed the line together.

I understood that they handed out a small tot of wine to those in fancy dress but must have missed mine. Great poultry prizes for the fastest winners, but the silly refreshments stand ran out of plastic tea cups, had no crisps, and ran out of mince pies. Nonetheless, a very friendly, fun, festive race which was a pleasure to be a part of.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 WILES, Andrew New Marske Harriers M 0:41:46
12 DIXON, Alyson Sunderland Strollers F 0:47:45
103 ROBSON, Alister MV40 1:00:20
147 CATTERICK, David MV50 1:03:30
154 BROWN, David M 1:04:02
288 SYGROVE, Kathryn FV45 1:19:42
289 MACPHERSON, Kate FV35 1:19:43

351 finishers.

Stockton Winter 5K Trail Race, Sunday, December 16, 2012

Dave Robson

I have done one of these trail races before and I enjoyed it – it was muddier than some cross country courses I have done. This one was at Preston Park which I hadn’t visited before so I had no idea what to expect. Melanie had been before but not to run, so we took a variety of footwear from still wet cross country shoes to trail shoes that might be okay on tarmac.

We met someone we knew from the Quakers in the car park and he thought it might be 80% tarmaced path and the rest muddy trail and this turned out to be about right, though the mud was nowhere near as bad as the cross country yesterday. We were to register at Preston Hall and as we approached we could see runners going round the back and we followed and came to a Beamish style street and registration was in the old tea room 🙂

The start was in the overflow car park and rapidly we went into the woods and ran down to the River Tees which we ran alongside. Back into the woods, all lovely, a great route and we were enjoying it. Then about a mile into the race, my phone rang. The only downside of my job at the Castle is that I need to spend some weeks on 24 hour call. In those weeks I need to be within a reasonable distance of home and always carry my phone. By the time I had pulled over and sent Melanie on (it was a lapped course so I knew I could get to her quickly if we needed to leave), the caller had gone to voice mail, which I realised when I called back. I left my own message which was along the lines of if its urgent call me back otherwise, give me 20 minutes please ! The caller phoned back. Luckily, it was something I needed to be aware of but I didn’t need to go into work, phew.

So back to racing ! I knew there was no chance of getting back to Melanie, so I concentrated on pulling back some of the runners who had overtaken me. I made some progress and was pleased that I came in with a time just over 30 minutes. We went to the presentation knowing there were lots of spot prizes last time, but we didn’t get lucky. We had a good look round and a coffee and mince pie before heading home. They are running this course again on March 3rd and I would recommend it, though sadly we won’t be able to do it. The next one in the series is January 13th at Wynyard.

Harrier League, Monkton, Saturday, December 15, 2012

Mudman and Mudwoman

It had to happen one day ... medals!

For the first time in a while representatives of Elvet Striders came away with medals at yesterday’s HL fixture in Jarrow. Adam Walker took the gold medal in the U/17 Men’s race and Rachel Terry, in only her third race for the club, took the bronze medal in the senior women’s. WELL DONE ADAM AND RACHEL!!

Such medals are not easily won and both Adam and Rachel put in brave and determined performances on what was a very muddy course. They were backed up by excellent turnouts from their clubmates in both the men’s (16) and women’s (15) senior races which saw some excellent individual performances including ‘a lifetimes best’ by our own Angela Proctor, a strong run and welcome return to the mud by Roz Layton, a solid debut by Michael Terry and a battle royal between James and Tom as they close in on medium pack qualification! But everyone ran their hearts out for the Purple Tide – WELL DONE!

What a day! As I said, the course was muddy but relatively flat and the weather was kind to runners and spectators alike (of which there were many from Striders including Jan, Mike E and his wife, lots of children (Terrys, VDBHs and Waltons) and even two dogs!) The Women’s team had its best result so far this season finishing in 5th place, which pulls us out of the relegation zone (just!), whilst the men finished 6th leaving us in a comfortable mid-table position.

Well the HL doesn’t reconvene until 9th Feb at Wrekenton but before then we have the Northern X/C Championships down in Knowsley on 26th Jan (watch out for entry details v. soon) and then on the 23rd Feb we have the English National X/C Championships at New Herrington, Sunderland and that’s a race you simply have to do!!

Merry Christmas

Some of the men ...


Pos Name Club Cat Time
1 MCLEOD, Mark Elswick Harriers 32:33
68 REEVES, Thomas 36:35
74 GARLAND, James 36:47
120 CLAYDON, Matt 37:58
128 HORSLEY, Will *M 38:08
189 WALTON, Graeme 39:18
194 BENNETT, Michael 39:23
220 DAVIS, Geoff 40:08
240 LLOYD, Jerry *M 40:41
268 ROBERTS, Shaun 41:38
281 VAN DER BREMER, Marco 42:08
290 ROBSON, Alister 42:23
293 GOURLAY, Aaron 42:33
322 HOCKIN, Richard 44:09
330 TERRY, Michael 44:44
349 SELBY, David 46:54
378 ROBSON, Dave 50:05

*M Medium pack – 2m30s handicap.
*F Fast pack – 5m handicap.

390 finishers.

... and some of the women.

Pos Name Club Cat Time
1 YOUNG, Lorna Heaton Harriers 25:54
3 TERRY, Rachel Bronze medal! 28:54
28 SHENTON, Fiona 30:09
69 LAYTON, Roz 31:34
83 DAVIS, Susan 32:07
91 BRAY, Carolyn 32:25
98 PROCTOR, Angela 32:41
100 HUDSON, Melanie 32:47
117 BULLOCK, Rachel 34:19
119 WALTON, Katy 34:28
122 BRADLEY, Jean 34:37
130 DICK, Barbara 35:19
151 MILLER, Louise 37:20
160 FORD, Jill 40:01
162 JENNINGS, Sue 40:28

*M Medium pack – 2m handicap.

168 finishers.

U17 Men
Pos Name Club Cat Time
1 WALKER, Adam Elvet Striders Gold medal! 24:45

25 finishers.

Jingle All The Way 8K, Washington DC, Sunday, December 9, 2012

Danny Lim

I was feeling very foolish as I walked through the hotel lobby, dressed in a Santa hat with flashing lights, red T-shirt and bright red knee high socks. Talk about making a fool of yourself! Mary (my wife) and I attracted a fair number of curious stares as we walked to the start of the race which was in central Washington DC. But when we arrived, many runners were in fancy dress. There was the obvious Santa outfits. But more imaginative ones including a team of reindeer tied harnessed together, a christmas present, a snowman, a juggling santa. Everyone was in a light-hearted, party mood. And the Americans sure know how to throw a party/race! There was a loudspeakers pumping music into the air and a DJ psyching the crowd up.

Danny and Mary across the pond. The race started down Pennyslvania Avenue, a broad avenue, the site of victory and presidential parades. For the first mile, it seemed we were running straight towards Capitol Hill. Just before we reached it, the course took us left, past Union Station and then back on ourselves, before heading past the the Federal Building and Space Museum. DC was surprisingly quiet that weekend and the crowd support was sparse. But, what they lacked in numbers they made up for in enthusiasm. The course was flat as a pancake and all it was run completely on road.

Because I started at the back with Mary, I spent most of the race passing Santas and elves! I spent the first 3 miles pushing the pace before taking it a little easier slower in the last couple of miles. The lactic acid was building up! At the finish, I had a final sprint against Santa but alas, he crossed just ahead of me. Well, Santa has to be in good shape to carry all those presents around! My finish time was 40:11. I’d forgotten my Garmin, but If I had known I was just a few seconds off my PB, I would have tried a little harder!! Mary came in a little bit later and I was able to cheer her as she crossed the finish line.

The finish was better than the start with food galore. Bagels, muffins, apples, bananas, brewed coffee and tea. The best post-race food I’d had to date. Maybe that’s why I race, for the food afterwards! We both really enjoyed this race and if you’re ever in DC for Christmas, give this one a go.