Monthly Archives: May 2013

Wynyard Woodland Park Trail Race, Castle Eden, Thursday, May 30, 2013

Paul Pascoe

This is a route around the gorgeous Wynyard Park taking in the Castle Eden walkway, farm tracks then drops down into Thorpe Wood then with a sting in the tail, a short sharp incline back onto the walkway and returning to the old disused station at the finish.

As this was my first Tees Trail Race I didn’t know what to expect. On arriving at the car park I went and registered which was a fairly simple affair as I had already filled in my registration form and it was just a case of paying my £3 and being issued with my race number which you have to keep for the rest of the trail race series. It was fairly quiet at first and I couldn’t see any other Striders but as in all races as the time nears for the start of the race an influx of competitors arrive and eventually caught up with Alister and Megan.

A fairly level start and a good long downhill section, until the notorious Thorpe Wood. In all it was a good, fast route apart from the ‘killer’ incline out of Thorpe Wood which definitely got my heart going on full blast. Then a good long flat straight back to the old station for a fast finish, if you’ve got anything left in the tank.

George Ogle Memorial Race, Swalwell, Wednesday, May 29, 2013

approx 6 miles

Katherine O'Mahony

Summer time means trail running and I remember enjoying this race so much last year so was keen to do it again. At 6 miles, it is a decent distance to be a mid-week challenge but short enough to not leave you completely knackered. The cloud that descends over Durham as soon as summertime begins was happily in place, leaving for cool racing conditions. After a quick bag dump, number collection and last minute banana to perk up the blood sugar we headed to the start. Having come 4th last year, I had my sights set on a high finish and probably went off a little too quickly, I prefer to think of this as “embracing my inner child” instead of poor pacing! The beautiful thing about this race is that there is a fast, flat start for around 2 miles and then just as you are getting bored, you are subjected to a rather hilly, section in woodland, with lots of steps upwards followed by flying descents. I find this bit breaks up the middle miles nicely and gives the race variety, as well as making it easier on the legs. The finish is again flat and fast, and if your pacing is like mine, feels like it goes on forever as you draw on whatever is left in your race-weary legs.

Come on, say 'Cheese' you buggers ...

Despite a slower finish than I would have liked (probably a typical thought of all runners), I was rewarded with first lady. Alister followed shortly behind me, then Bill, Danny, Richard, Paul, Peter, Louise, Becky and Sue. Once everyone had finished, goody bags were obtained and the collective decision was made that they were of a high standard (Great T-Shirt, Packet of crisps plus all-you-can-eat banana fest- beautiful stuff). We headed into the clubhouse for a beer and thankfully to satisfy my post-race grease cravings in the form of Saltwell cricket club’s finest cheese and ham toastie (I recommend these as much as the race). I was delighted to be the recipient of a large bottle of Belgian beer, £30 worth of Start fitness vouchers and a rather lovely trophy (modelled rather dashingly by Louise on the FB page). All in all, a good evening’s racing. Finally I want to say thanks to Alister for getting me there in my car-less state, he took a lot of convincing to do another race as you can all imagine :-).


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Brendan McMillan Claremont Road Runners M 1 32.01
26 Katherine O’Mahony Durham City Harriers F 1 38.39
48 Alister Robson M 42.54
76 Brian Ford M 45.54
78 Danny Lim M 46.05
83 Richard Hall M 47.01
86 Paul Beal M 47.19
100 Peter McGowan M 49.51
101 Louise Barrow F 49.53
113 Rebecca Fisher F 52.13
130 Sue Jennings F 58>15

134 finishers

Brussels 20k, Sunday, May 26, 2013

Lucy Cowton

A piece of advice for anyone contemplating running a race in Belgium; prepare to get your elbows out and forget your British manners! Luckily I’d been forewarned of this and sharpened my elbows and practised a French-looking pout especially for the occasion.

I’m quite new to running having got the bug after the running GNR last year, and this was the only other big event I’ve been to. So, after a horrifically difficult journey across the channel which took a sweaty, cramped and grumpy 16 hours to get there (thank you EuroTunnel) I woke up in Brussels a nervous, doubtful wreck.

And they're off!

There’s no way I’ll manage this today, I thought, after hardly any sleep, very little food and with storms and wind blowing like mad! But once I got on the Metro, the sight of hundreds of runners of all ages, sizes and fitnesses heading to the start and my mantra ‘if they can do it, you can do it’ spurred me on. The atmosphere getting to the start was electric. I’ve never thought of the Belgians as a particularly happy lot but I’ve since changed my mind! The towering columns of the impressive Cinquantenaire signalled the start of the pens, and as I made my way over there with my friend James we were stopped and interviewed for Brussels TV (just thought I’d drop my five minutes of fame in there…)

In true Belgian style there was neither order nor control over the pens, so despite James’ number being 20,000 behind mine, we joined the hordes to clamber forwards and managed to start together not too far from the front. As I was so nervous, I knew I’d start far too quickly and that I’d probably already used up a whole load of energy jumping around in the rain to keep warm! So I consciously held to just over a 5k/mile pace through the business district and kept it strong and steady, trying hard not to get too pushed around by huge men with big elbows… Now I began to understand why I’d seen so few women there!

The course swerved and circled in nice short sections up a steady hill, along the Euro zone. It was challenging to keep a foot hold on the slippy cobbles as we flew past the Palace as Belgian roads are not a strongpoint! Hundreds of displaced cobbles and potholes meant quite a number of runners came a-cropper, but luckily I kept my head down and managed to avoid them. But then, my worst nightmare … three underground tunnels. I was still keeping a steady pace but I’m pretrified of closed spaces and as you entered the tunnels the humidity, heat and noise of thousands of runners was so disorienting I thought I might ‘go’. Instead, spurred on by a handsome fireman beside me, I picked up to almost a 4k pace and sped through them as fast as I could, and was rewarded after the hill at the other end by a break in the clouds!

Well done Lucy!

The next part of the run was wonderful. We weaved through a beautiful park, down tree-lined streets and past bird-filled lakes. There were a few crowds of spectators, but nothing compared to the GNR. This was more than made up for by the fantastic blues, brass, jazz and drumming bands accompanying us at various points en route! I hit the 10k station at exactly 50 minutes and had a celebratory fruit gum. I was really enjoying it now and happy with my rhythm. The next few kilometres flew by, as the course moved along residential streets and past posh houses. I found it funny how runners could basically go any route they wanted – a few ran along tram tracks whilst others nearly knocked spectators over running over pavements! A few narrow streets meant I got my elbows out again and was nearly tripped by a pushy, scary-looking body builder-type, but I just about kept upright and found my rhythm again.

I’d been warned about the famous ‘mont du mort’ around the 17k mark-2 kilometres of steep uphill along Avenue Tervurenlaan but just as I realised I’d already started it, I spied the 1h45 balloons marker just by the side of me. I must’ve lost a bit of pace but as I was aiming for under 1h50 I was ecstatic! I kept pace alongside the balloon man and huffed and puffed past the runners slowing down, feeling thankful for once for Durham’s hills during my training!

As I reached the top with sweaty, misty eyes, I saw what I thought was the finish line – yeah! I tried to ignore my burning thighs and dig into a pocket of energy to pick up my pace, but as I neared it, I realised it said ‘only 1km to go’! Oh dear. I eased off a bit and reserved a tiny bit of push for the real finish. I managed a wobbly sprint around a roundabout, down an ‘elbows-at-dawn’ narrow and over the cobbles to finish in 1h47. But strangly I had come through in front of the 1h 45 marker… I saw James by the bananas having done a fantastic 1h40 and looking curiously fresh! I on the other hand weakly collected my Belgian-flagged medal and wished I’d only pushed 2 minutes harder! I’ll be more prepared for the tunnels, cobbles and sneaky finishes next time and sharpening my elbows in preparation!

Druridge Bay 10K, Sunday, May 26, 2013

Matt Claydon

This little race (300 runners) is now in its 7th year, but unfortunately as it clashes with Raby Castle 10k it has never yet received recognition in our reports [Apart from last year. Ed] – so here it is.

I have an appreciation for this event as it was the scene of one of my Greatest Sporting Triumphs, an 8th place back in 2008 (no trophy), so even if it was rubbish I would still be fond of it. It’s not; it’s a great day out for all the family. Start the day with a gentle(ish) massage before enjoying a 10k run around a scenic country park broken up by a good kilometre or so along the beach. Another free massage afterwards, and an ice cream van on standby, and best of all (this year) a beautiful summers day! So perfect conditions for a picnic by the lake and a kickabout on the beach. Although not particularly cheap, it is non-profit making and your money does go to a worthy cause. The mixed terrain prevents any chance of a PB, but this is a run to enjoy and has a good number of fun-runners doing just so. Perhaps next year you will join us?

Raby Castle 10K, Sunday, May 26, 2013

Mike Elliott and Conrad White

Grand Prix Race. Sprint Champion Race.

Mike Elliott …

Beautiful setting apart from that bloody hill twice.

Did not pre-enter as I was not sure of the weather forecast, if bad, it would have meant that Judy would not be able to move around on the mobility scooter and look after the dog. Anyway on arrival went into the grounds via the signposted route only to be turned round and enter by the normal route to gain access to disabled parking area. Discovered that registration was 1.5k away from the start so off I went with money and form in my grubby little hand to claim my number. Guess that had to do for my first ever warm up.

Back at the car sorted Judy and the dog out and watched several purple patches of Striders doing very fast gyrations to the music before the start. Some great movers, pity no camera available. Did see some little young and older Striders and Durham parkrunners finish the 5k and get their medals. Set off with Capt. Sue who was going to take it easy after returning from being out of fettle and marathons, we parted company on the first hill and I then caught Karen Younger up and ran together. At half way we were spurred on by Anne Nicholson, Jackie Smith and the Chalkeys and the main member of the said family. You have guessed it. The Dog. Thanks folks.

After the second long climb then onto the nice long downhill we checked our Garmins to discover big discrepancies – mine saying 12 min mile pace and Karen’s 9.30 pace: unbelievable when the blurb says how accurate they are. Somehow the electronic ether managed to get it sorted.

At the farm 7k we picked a target runner 500m in front to catch 100m before the finish and beat this was done with comparative ease. Why? Cos at the 9k mark the smell of the chocolate covered fairy cake memento at the finish was drifting across the course on a nice cool breeze. Definitely was too much to resist and then it was a sprint to the finish passing several folks alang the road. Oh!!!! that is a different race never mind, they had the pleasure of eating our dust before their cake and we did manage our target, coming in at 63 and 64 respectively with Capt Sue just behind.

Good to see some of our training partners taking part namely Hunwick Harriers, Crook AC and Durham parkrunners.

It was noticed that G N was too busy talking to eat his cake so it was taken off him for seconds.

… and Conrad White:

I was not planning on doing Raby Castle as I had not really registered it was on. At the park run I heard mention of Druridge Bay and Raby Castle. As it happened there was nothing else on the home calendar – the lawn cutting could wait – but did not realize until I got home after running fairly hard at the park run (and also running there and back). I thought I had not raced a 10k for a while and was amazed when the Garmin record said my last 10k was in 2008 and I had to search the internet results and found that I last ran Raby in 2006 (which was before the present web site results)! So I was certain for a personal best for the decade 2010s!

Sunday morning and I was prepared with my entry form and cash – it says the start is 15 minutes from the parking but the entries were only 5 minutes. I arrived early and having registered I went back to my car for a bit of a rest then met up with various Striders on the way to the start. The Sea of Purple was amassing and the kit certainly stands out. There are many who I do not really know in the Striders but the purple kit gets you talking to fellow team members which is absolutely fantastic. It was also good to meet up with Tony Young and Jackie Smith.

The day was bright and not too warm, the course I knew to be “undulating” – nothing to the fell runners in the club but enough challenge for me. My race plan such as it was – do not go off too fast and make sure the first 5k is slower than the average park run time.

Off we went. The course is on tarmac or very good forest trails. By the first km I could see Adam miles ahead (well certainly a few hundred metres – or yards for those of us who know about the old money) in or around the top ten and not far behind was Simon. Graeme had admitted to a bit of socializing at a stag do on Saturday night and was around and about me. I decided to try and stay with or around Graeme. He would pass me going up and I took him going down on the first lap (of two). I went through 5k in just over average park run time – so all was going to plan. He came past at around the 6k mark on the second long climb and I could not catch him again – but he was just that bit ahead and that encouraged me not to slow down. The views from the top as you come over the hill are stunning and I think make the climbs worth while. The downhills are not too severe and allow the legs to open up a bit.

As always at the finish there are cheers of encouragement and groups of Striders – there was even a bit of a photo on a phone.

As I predicted a PB for the 2010s but as it was the one and only so far not too surprising. The second 5k was around a minute slower than the first – so I think the plan worked. Two races (or at least a hard “run” and a race) in two days is not something I have done for years and the legs certainly felt it. You never know I might try another 10k in the not too distant future. One to be recommended for the beautiful scenery, it’s not far from home, probably lots of other good reasons and all in all a “cracking race” but not one for a PB.


Pos Name Club Cat Time
1 Mike Jefferies Unattached M 34.23
7 Adam Walker MJ 37.23
17 Tracey Millmore Birtley AC F 39.32
26 Simon Gardner M40 40.28
81 Graeme Walton M40 45.55
86 Conrad White M55 46.12
94 Rachel Terry F40 47.00
108 Katy Walton F 48.09
115 Carolyn Bray F35 48.37
136 John Hutchinson M55 49.50
176 Paul Beal M50 52.14
178 Adrian Jenkins M45 52.21
204 David Spence M65 53.51
229 Katie Butler F 56.03
235 Barbara Dick F40 56.15
236 Anita Clementson F40 56.17
242 Denise Mason F 56.39
245 George Nicholson M60 57.04
253 Jan Young F60 58.12
260 Kirsty Anderson F35 59.04
263 Karen Anne Chalkley F50 59.13
277 David Mogie M50 60.54
293 Mike Elliott M65 63.11
302 Karin Younger F50 63.38
313 Sue Jennings F45 65.25
328 Margaret Thompson F60 69.14

346 finishers

UltraTrails26 Howgills marathon, Sedbergh, Cumbria, Sunday, May 26, 2013

26.6 miles

Dave Robson

This event was tougher than we expected. We probably should have worked that out after the Grisedale marathon which was organised by the same people (the ones who organise the Lakeland 50/100).

When I looked at the route beforehand I divided it into four quarters. The first quarter we knew was going to be very tough. From Sedbergh we were heading north onto the Howgills. After about 6m of climbing we would reach the Calf and the next quarter looked fine, a descent down into the Bowderdale valley and along there for a while then turn to the east towards Ravenstonedale which was the only checkpoint. Then a bit of a slog south back up the into the hills. The final quarter looked a lovely descent back to Sedbergh.

Mel shows Dave how it's done ...

In reality the first quarter was possibly a bit tougher than I expected. The climbs were steeper and seemed to just keep on going. It was a warm day with a breeze from roughly south. The second quarter was a bit of a surprise, the descent into Bowderdale was a little tricky and the path in the valley itself was narrow and technical. You couldn’t take your eyes off the path and it went on for a long time. The terrain in Bowderdale was a bit wet and muddy in places, but it would have been much harder if it had rained more recently. Finally we turned east towards Ravenstonedale, but then turned south and up again for a while before we came to a familiar section which we walked last year. Into the Ravenstonedale checkpoint to fill our bottles which were about empty.

We left Ravenstonedale and slogged our upwards on a deserted narrow road. We could see by now that our original estimates of how long it would us take were slipping away (MelanieLH guessed 5hr30 and I guessed 6hr).

Finally we reached the highest point of the second half and worked out way down into a valley and followed the River Rawthey back to Sedbergh. There were lots more stream crossing here and it certainly wasn’t all downhill, there were a few climbs as well. I was dunking my hat into the streams to keep myself cool by now.

The scenery was fantastic and I really enjoyed that last few miles. If you like the Lakeland Trails marathon, then you will certainly like this one.

They gave us a lovely cup of soup at the end of the race, the same butternut squash soup we had at Grisedale, we needed it after 6hr 40mins (so much for our estimates !). The goody bag contained a tee shirt, medal, lots of gels, flapjacks. They also gave us a roadbook which also contained a map of the route. However, we followed the gpx route they supplied which we downloaded on our garmins and the course was signed at most critical places

Poole parkrun, Poole park, Dorset, Saturday, May 25, 2013

Jacquie Robson

Down in Dorset for a wedding, I fully expected Alister to ID the local parkrun. And so it was that we arrived at the very pretty Poole Park at 8.30am on a sunny Saturday morning. We parked at totally the wrong end of the park so was able to warm up by walking across it, admiring the picturesque boating lake and very flat terrain. We were expecting a large parkrun but arrived near the start at 8.45am just before the first timers briefing to see only 20 or 30 people milling about. We joined the first timers and were briefed on the route and the swan hazards and and then began to make our way to the start. On looking around, well over 400 people had joined us in the 5 minutes before the start.

On the gun, Alister raced off at speed, aiming for a good time, whereas I hadn’t run for 3 weeks due to injury so set off at a gentle jog. It was good to hear all the little groups of parkrun friends catching up about their week and chatting about the weather and the route, which headed out towards the boating lake. After two full laps of the edge of the lake, I was a little surprised to need to do a bit of car dodging as some traffic moved in and out of a car park that was supposedly closed until 10am (I’m not sure the NE parkrun ambassador would be impressed with that happening on his patch. Mind, he was on holiday…). After that, we headed back towards the start and added in a smaller lap of the cricket pitch before hitting the finishing funnel. I felt a little bit out of sorts after such a long running layoff, and I could tell from Alister’s face that I looked like I was really not enjoying myself in the warm sunshine, but I was pleased to come through in sub-30 and chuffed with another parkrun finish – still heading slowly but surely for the elusive 100 club T-shirt. Alister enjoyed the route but was a little disappointed with his time – the 11 hour car journey to Dorset the day before can’t have helped!

Still, in the right conditions, this is probably a PB course on a good day (but it’s possibly a little far to travel if you’re not passing that way anyway!). Not sure about the car dodging, but certainly one to visit if you’re down there!

Rennsteiglauf 2013, Germany, Saturday, May 25, 2013

72.7 km / 1950m

Till Sawala

t may not be the most famous or the most glamorous ultra marathon in the world, but the “Rennsteiglauf” over the hills of the Thuringian Forest is certainly Europe’s biggest, with more than 2000 finishers every year. Despite these numbers, it has kept many traditions and quirks that date back to its East German roots, most famously the “Schleim” (literally: slime, a kind of thick porridge) on offer at the various aid stations.

Till, looking forward to his slime.

The start of the race is in Eisenach, birth place of Bach and home of the “Wartburg”, which counts Luther and Goethe among its famous residents. We had other things in mind when we assembled on the market square just before 6 in the morning – chief among them if the weather would hold.

When I’d run this race for the first time last year, I felt ill-prepared, and my only objective was to finish what would be my longest run up to then. This year, confident to make it to the end, my goal was to also run fast. Ulrike and I wished each other good luck at the start, and when the church bells rang to mark the start, we were on our way. After a couple of flat kilometers, the course quickly climbs out of Eisenach to join the “Rennsteig”, the eponymous hiking trail that we would follow for most of the day. Up to the first check point at km 18, it was a gentle but constant climb. My split time of 1:31 meant that I was almost 25 minutes up on last year’s time – clearly, I was running too fast, but it still felt deceptively easy. We reached the first summit of the “Inselberg” at km 25. Having to walk during the steepest sections for the first time, it dawned on me that my early pace might haunt me later. After 3:16, I reached the second checkpoint at km 37, a full 40 minutes up on last year’s time. The marathon was passed after 3:45 minutes, and now the going got considerably tougher. I was not being passed by too many runners, but had to walk repeatedly on the steeper sections, and by km 50, I was beginning to feel dizzy – fortunately, the next aid station was not too far away, and I was able to take on much needed carbohydrates (in the form of the aforementioned “Schleim”). At 55 km, my time was 4:56, 43 minutes ahead of last year.

The toughest part of the course was still ahead, the ascent to the “Grosser Beerberg”, with temperatures just above freezing and patches of snow on the wayside. Last year, after a slow first half, I had been able to pass many struggling runners on this section, but this time, I was struggling myself. When the summit finally came, I had actually lost one minute compared to the split from the previous year, with 5:57 at 64 km. However, the worst was now over, and as the remainder was mostly downhill, I was beginning to make calculations: my goal of 7 hours seemed safe, and 6:45 a distinct possibility. I picked up the pace again and crossed the line in 6:43, some 44 minutes faster than the previous year, good enough for 80th place out of 1788 (male). Ulrike, unfortunately, struggled with the cold weather this time, but still managed to get 38th out of 369 (female). I have a feeling that this wasn’t the last “Rennsteiglauf” for either of us!

Clive Cookson 10K, Whitley Bay, Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Danny Lim

Before the off ... are running vests going out of fashion, then?

Several Striders had turned up to Whitley Bay for a spot of PB hunting. There was the promise of a flat and fast course which I was relishing. We were all gathered in the school’s computer room, sheltering from the passing rain and winds.

I will still traumatised by what happened at the recent Sunderland 10K. I was stuck behind a crowd of “runners” that decided to walk after 100m. Not going to happen this time! I had a sneaky plan to outflank the people in front and snuck up by the side of the start line. And it worked; for the first minute anyway. I found myself right in front. But I couldn’t spot any purple. Then I turned around and saw Alister Robson, Simon Gardener, Bill Ford, Kevin Williams and Ian Spencer all behind me. Not good! I was way too fast and running with the leaders.

Danny and Simon soon after the start.
photo © and courtesy Steve Garrett

It wasn’t long before I was passed. But the brief spurt meant that I was a couple of minutes ahead of my PB time. Shame there was another 8K to go! If only I could hang on to it. The twisty tarmac road became a rocky trail that inclined ever so gently upwards. This went on for a mile and it slowed me down. I felt that PB slipping away and I started despairing. But at the 3rd mile, the tarmac road returned and it flattened out again and I was able to catch up. It was a 2 lap route, so it very similar for the second lap though slightly harder for me. As I approached the finish, the sure enough, I could hear the other Striders (led by Alister) bellowing at me. When I did cross the finish line, I was chuffed! 48:31 which was a PB by over a minute for me.

It was a good PB haul for the other Striders too including Simon Gardener (first Strider home [38:46! Ed.]), Louise Barrow and Jill Ford. Apologies, for not mentioning everyone. To top it off, a goody bag containing a technical T-shirt, running diary and peanut butter cookie. A very well spent ££12!

Summer Handicap, Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Anna Seeley

Well done to everyone who took part in this month’s handicap. Sorry for the delay in getting the results to you. 32 finishers and a good few others joining in for a lap made for a great race.

Competitive or what???

A big thankyou to Jacquie for help with the results, Michael for taking some great photographs and Paul for getting everyone away on time. With such a good turnout and mass finishes at times I hope everyone agrees with their times but if you think I’m wildly out let me know and I’ll look into it

George presses the flesh.

The next handicap will be on the 26th June. Remember you can run as many or as few handicaps as you like so please join us next month if you can.