Daily Archives: 6th January 2013

Clay Bank East, Sunday, January 6, 2013

BS / 5.7m / 680'

Shaun Roberts

What a difference a year makes. This time last year we had bright low sunshine, with superb views around the moors and crisp frost to run over. This time around was to be a much murkier, clartier affair. The route looks a bit intimidating at the start, as you look up to the edge of Urra Moor from Clay Bank … and yet, once up that steep slope, most of the rest is pretty runnable. Met Tom, Dave, Dave and Jan at the start … didn’t see Dougie then, though afterwards he says he heard me!

Tom reaches the trig point in the murk ...
photo courtesy and © Nic Barber

After a bit of a delay due to the good turnout, we were off, and funnelling towards a gate. We squeezed through this, and then I had a bit of luck. A little group ahead of me peeled off to the right, scrambling up the hill over grass, rather than sticking to the track, so I thought I’d follow them. Wasn’t sure whether this was a good idea until, reaching the top, faster runners went past, which is a sure sign that it was a good idea. Nice running now, along the edge of the hill, followed by a short steep bank before a long slightly uphill drag to the trig point. The conditions were getting really murky up here now … the excellent and atmospheric photos (link below) give a flavour of this. After a slightly annoying bit of two-way traffic along a sheep track, we now had a superb gently-sloping downhill section of about two miles, interrupted by a short uphill bit of forest track in the clartiest, and messiest of conditions. Great to hammer down to the finish after this bit.

Tom was already in, after a great run to get inside the top twenty. I was a tad disappointed to come in a fair bit slower than last year, but I was higher up the field ??? So perhaps some of that was due to the clartiness. Dave Selby wasn’t long after me, claiming ‘Won’t be long before I’m in front of you!’ We shall see. Dave Shipman enjoyed his run, as did Jan, once again completely outclassing her age-group competitors – sorry, competitor – to win even more wine. Sure she’s winning it faster than she can drink it. And Dougie was next in, still ahead of 25 others, and also enjoyed a lovely little fell race, which I can recommend to anyone. Note: This was the 8th race of the 14 in the NEHRA Winter Series, and Esk Valley have collated the latest positions … see link below. Still 6 more to go, and so all to play for, with 8 results counting. Next up the ‘Broughton Woods Wobble’ on the 3rd of Feb, also from Clay Bank, and also, it looks to me, ‘runnable’. Details here.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Jayson Cavill Pickering RC M 37.00
19 Thomas Reeves MV45 4 42.52
39 Nicola Kent Loftus & Whitby FV40 1 45.14
85 Shaun Roberts MV55 7 51.08
97 David Selby MV40 12 52.19
124 David Shipman MV55 13 56.14
137 Jan Young FV60 1 59.34
145 Dougie Nisbet MV45 24 61.12

170 finishers.

Old Monks Six, Hart, Hartlepool, Sunday, January 6, 2013

Danny Lim

I couldn’t resist a race called the Old Monks 6. Curiosity got the better of me and I wanted to find out about the strange name. According to the organisers, the route runs through the graveyard of monks at Monk Hesleden. There was a St Mary’s church, now demolished that dated back to the 13th century. So we probably disturbed some very old monks!

The race started on the main road in the middle of Hart village, before turning off into a smaller tarmac road, which went on for about a kilometer. What was this? I was expecting a trail race! But it wasn’t long before we hit the dirt; mud to be precise! And after the wettest December on record this trail was truly muddy. And there was plenty of slipping and sliding much of the way.

My favourite part was “letting go” on the downhill sections. As Richard Askwith said, as in Feet in the Clouds, “brain off, legs on” (if I remember right). And downhill I ran like a loon, passing several runners. At the bottom of the hill was a stream with a narrow footbridge with a bottle neck of runners queuing to cross. Rather than lose momentum, I splashed through the stream, passing several more. And on the inevitable uphill, I’d slow down again, before recovering at the top and speeding downhill again. And the cycle went on, though the forested dene and past fields in fallow. Lots of views to admire, if only I wasn’t having to rush!

Before long, we were heading back towards Hart. I got pipped at the last minute by non other than Sharon Gayter, the ultra-running record holder. The finish was much closer than I thought, and not where we had started. If I’d known, I might have tried giving chase. The race was well-organised and the marshals were all fantastic. If you want to train for cross-country or the fells, I’d recommend this. Pretty good for £6 and 25 minutes from Durham.