Monthly Archives: May 2013

Brathay Marathon, Sunday, May 19, 2013

Gareth Pritchard

As a relatively new member to the striders, I am still finding my feet in the world of running and this race was my very first marathon (baptism by fire). Not sure if this was the best choice for my first, but the chance to run such a beautiful course won me over.

The race Starts/finishes at Brathay Hall, a very nice large hotel in extensive grounds overlooking Lake Windermere itself. With heavy rain the day before, I was happy to see the weather change for the better on race day. With almost perfect running conditions I got the chance to wear my new Striders running vest for the very first time. I joined up with some fellow Striders before the race and got some last min race tips from Dave.

Gareth, with a well-earned medal.

The facilities were ideal, with ample toilets (very important), changing facilities and various stalls set up for the fun day held at the same time. Parking was well organised despite the boggy ground and the race organiser were all very friendly. The race begins with a slow procession led by a brass band down the main road where the race starts, a very good idea and adds to the build up and excitement. The 10 in 10 runners had already set off before the main race, this being their 10th and last marathon in 10 consecutive days. Yep, you read that right; they run this marathon every day for ten days in a row round one of the hardest courses in the UK. These people are truly outstanding athletes; I passed a few of the 10 in 10 runners on the way round and gave as much support as possible. This really adds something to the race experience and helps keep you going.

My build up for the race had been good, with same fast half marathon results and injury free being the main one. Being new to marathon running I got great advice from Striders during the last few months. I also found the weekly pod cast; marathon talk, to be of great help. I gave myself a 4/5 month training build up and aimed to do 60+ miles a week. In the end I found this impossible to do, I just found it too hard finding the time to fit 4/5 runs in a week and only hit 50 miles a few times. I still hit the start line feeling good and was ready for my first marathon.

The bang went and the race began, I was a good way off the start line but still had lots of room at the start to get up to race pace with ease. I had a rough aim of 7 min miles for the first half and decided to check my watch at each mile marker. The first 4/5 miles is on closed off traffic free roads towards Hawkshead where I was stopping over the weekend with my better half. I felt very good over these first few miles with my mile times hitting 6:45 min miles. I knew this was too fast and should slow down, but on I went. I charged down a large hill towards Hawkshead to see Kathleen and our pet dog cheering me on as I waved like a mad man. Felt great and pushed on past the lead female runner and settled on the back of a group for the next few miles.

The hills kept coming till mile 7 when the daddy hill hit, Dave already warned me so was ready and dug in. Soon I was picking off running and chasing the next one down. At mile 10 I knew I should slow down but found myself locked in a good battle with the lead group, yes the lead group. I knew I was in trouble at this point but the excitement of the race kept me going. I think at mile 13 I was in the top 3 and still felt strong passing half way in 1h26 ish I think. This is when the Windermere’s relentless undulations started to hit me hard. There are almost no flat bits on this course and I knew the wall was on its way to meet me.

At mile 17 I was not enjoying the race anymore, with the lead runner leaving me behind and the first signs of cramp in my right leg. Dont panic Gareth, don’t panic was all that was running through my head. The next big hill was mile 20 and this well and truly finished off my legs, I ran to the top but knew my race was over. I was over heating badly and it felt like forever between water stations, thankfully some kind person had an orange on offer at the top of the hill to keep me going. Cramp hit me hard at this point and I have no idea how I kept going, I have never felt such pain and was getting funny looks from the spectators as I grunted my way past mile 21. Over the next 5 mile I was passed by a lot of runners and could do nothing about it but try to keep going. With 3 miles to go I found my 10th wind, with the idea that it’s only a parkrun to do I dug in and raised my pace again.

Home straight and was faced with…… yes another hill. Dig in time and even managed a small sprint finish crossing the line in 3h07mins 08 sec. I have never been so worn out in my life as I felt then; all I could do was hang over the railing pouring water over my head and spent the next 10 mins trying to breathe and not to just roll over and collapse.

Over all I am happy with the time and have a new found respect for anyone who puts themselves through this massive challenge of running a marathon. One amazing marathon course but you have to respect the hills and distance or suffer as I did. Will I run a marathon again? One a year maybe but Windermere is too hard on my knees; I still want to be running in my 60’s if possible. Well worth doing just for the experience, my first marathon but probably not my last.


Pos Name Club Cat Time
1 Marcus Scotney Howgill Harriers M 1 2:38:50
17 Gareth Pritchard M 8 3:07:08
19 Nicola Shaw Unattached F 1 3:08:58
397 Jane Ives FV40 13 4:18:59
415 Melanie Hudson FV35 17 4:20:49
495 Angela Proctor FV35 25 4:36:28
508 Dave Robson MV60 8 4:39:23
567 Claire Readey FV35 29 4:51:16
682 Sue Jennings FV45 23 5:34:48
DNF John Greathead M DNF

721 finishers.

Calderdale Relay, Halifax, Sunday, May 19, 2013

50 miles

Laura Garnham and Shaun Roberts

Laura Garnham …

The Calderdale relay – I didn’t know a huge amount about it, other than I had agreed to do it. Well, I was promised good scenery and free food and that generally tempts me.

Most of us (bar Will, Till, Bill, Mike H and Paul E) went down on Saturday and along with Pam went out in the evening for a curry. (Apparently Halifax is famous for its curries, honestly I just thought Halifax was just a branch of bank … next someone will tell me that there is a small town called Barclays in Sussex that makes a cracking fish pie).

On Sunday morning we woke early (Dave’s brother and his wife Lyn had kindly put Dave, Shaun, Nigel, Jan and I up for the night and even provided breakfast which I’m sure everyone appreciated) to get Nigel and Shaun to the start of the first leg in time. We managed to catch up with them a few times where the route intersected with the roads, and cheered them on (in fact most of the day consisted of cheering, for pretty much everyone who ran by, all in all a very good atmosphere).

Bill and Mike fuel up before the start of Leg 5.

Jan and I ran the second leg up to Stoodley Pike (that’s its name in my head at least) and some hill I now forget the name of. It was a very enjoyable run, plenty of water and mud, which I see as a good thing, some rather spectacular views, and a random lady gave me some jelly babies half way round, small acts of kindness and all that, can’t complain! I think it was about 10 miles (not sure how long it took us, I still haven’t got round to getting a watch). [1:34:02! Well done! Ed. ] Jan was a fab running partner and we pulled each other round well, I can get ahead a bit on the uphills but she flies down them while I try too hard not to be going down on my backside. I remember something about running like a duck being suggested, ducks obviously being well known for their downhill running style … though I’m sure it was helpful information. [You can rely on Jan for this sort of thing. Ed. ]

Once finished we got free hot showers (luxury!), changed into clean shoes and clothes (more luxury) and set off to catch up with and support everyone else on their legs. The only people I didn’t see on the day was Paul F who I think ran leg 3 with Dave, I’m sure he won’t mind but I have eaten his slice of cake. The day finished sometime after 3 with Mike B and Till completing leg 6 (which looked very scenic with canals, blue bell woods and wonderful views, but all paid for by a hill that seemed to take ages even to drive let alone run up!)

We were then able to trade our numbers in for a meal, pie and peas and mint sauce, which I didn’t have but everyone else seemed to enjoy. There were also free hot drinks, but no water (which seemed a bit daft, generally people finishing a run don’t crave a cup of tea … or maybe they do, I’m not a tea drinker so I wouldn’t know). We headed home soon after that and I hope everyone had a relaxing evening. All that remains is to thank Dave for getting us organised, Nigel for giving me a lift down and back, and Jan for kitting me out with all the equipment, and say well done to everyone who ran, from the looks of it we all got good times!

Paul and Will glad to finish Leg 4 ... ninth fastest time for this leg, btw ... yes, Jan was everywhere.

Shaun Roberts adds:

Many thanks to Dave Shipman for masterminding yet another epic outing to the southern reaches of Yorkshire for this superb relay event. Thanks also to his brother, John, and Lyn, for very hospitable bed and breakfast facilities, and to everyone supporting at many locations round the course … all much appreciated! As was the excellent curry the night before …

I recommend a look at Nigel’s excellent photographs (link below), which give a good feel for the day, should you be thinking of having a go next year.

Thanks Dave!

Scafell Trail Marathon, Sunday, May 19, 2013

David Catterick and Aaron Gourley

David Catterick …

The three things I’ve learned from this race are: don’t necessarily believe the organisers description of a race; race recce’s are not a waste of time; and finally always check Tripadvisor before booking any hotel!

Having pulled out of the Cateran 55 this year I found myself feeling a bit wimpish but this marathon ‘trail’ race caught my eye. Starting at Keswick halfway was Scafell Pike before looping back to Keswick for the finish a total 1,800m of ascent. Two weeks before the race Geoff, Sue and Till joined me on a recce of the ‘hilly’ bit. Good map reading and climbing skills were clearly going to be essential!

David back in civilisation ... well, Keswick.

I arrived at the hotel near Keswick the afternoon before the race along with my wife pleased at having nabbed the last hotel room (albeit twin beds) in the area, it being the Keswick Mountain Festival weekend. However something just didn’t feel quite right at the hotel then the penny dropped, this was a Christian Holiday Fellowship hotel! Now this probably means nothing to most of you but I have childhood memories of going on CHF family holidays with group walking and homemade communal entertainment. The receptionist confirmed my fears that there was to be group singing after the communal evening meal!

As breakfast wasn’t until 7.45am I explained a need for an earlier b’fast though disclosed that I had brought my own muesli. At 5pm a cup of milk was delivered to our rather warm room so it would be nicely curdled for the next morning. We took this as a sign that our cover was blown so it was a sharp exit back into Keswick for evening bar meal and no communal singalong before sneaking back at 9pm. Fortunately everyone had retired to bed (twin singles I suspect). Thank The Lord (figuratively) for a travel essential … the portable electric wine cooler. At least all was not lost.

Next morning it was humid and foggy. 136 runners headed off lead, inevitably, by Ricky Lightfoot. As we climbed higher it was obvious who had GPSs as they soon had posse’s around them. Going up was pretty scary in places with some rock climbing and several dislodged big boulders making their way downhill. One fortunately just bounced over someone’s head as it appeared over a ridge in the mist. At the summit the next dip site was just passed Esk Hause at a sheep shelter. Visibility was dire and the route was downhill over wet slippery boulders. A woman in front of me did a face-plant cutting her face quite badly.

When all (including the sheep shelter) seemed lost a ghost like figure in an Elvet Striders top appeared through the mist and guided us to the shelter. Turns out it wasn’t a spectre but Aaron Gourley. After this it was all downhill until a final climb to Watenlath then through the trees back into Keswick for a warm reception and the biggest Cornish pasty ever. (Thanks Lorna x). Well the race certainly took me out of my comfort zone and perhaps that’s what we all need to do sometimes. Time? 6hrs 36mins and 65th. Thanks to Geoff, Sue and Till for their invaluable help and advice.

… and Aaron Gourley:

I spotted this one when I was entering the Hardmoors Osmotherley Marathon back in January. Held in conjunction with the Keswick Mountain Festival, I couldn’t resist. My plan had been to camp overnight somewhere near Keswick but the inclement weather made me decide against it, a 4:30am start to drive over to Keswick it was to be. Registration was in Crow Park where the festival was taking place. I watched as the tri-athletes turned up with their stunning array of bikes and kit for their race which also started there. Slightly in awe of them all I almost forgot about my own race and the fact that I had a near two mile hike just to get to the start at Nichol End Marina in Porthinscale. A dash around the lake side got me to the start with about a minute to spare before the mass start at 8:30am. Then we were off.

I started from the back and tried to keep the pace down as we followed the winding lakeside path towards the first climb at Castle Crag. The conditions were perfect for running in the valley but thick cloud blanketed the tops of the mountains at around the 500m mark which I’d hope would lift. The track down this side of the lake to Seathwaite was ideal for running on and I made it to the foot of the valley in no time. The first checkpoint was located just past the farm at the start of the track up to Stockley Bridge. Still plodding at this point the gradient started to increase before the first real climb began up to Styhead Tarn and the second checkpoint at the stretcher box. Reaching Styhead took us into the mist and visibility was severely reduced from here on in. From here I was with quite a big pack of runners as we joined the corridor route up to the summit. However, it soon became apparent that we were no longer on the main route as the path died out and a bottleneck of runners appeared as they tried to scramble up a scree face to get to back on track.

Atmospheric or what? Loads of atmosphere ...

At this point I met up with Jon Steele of Hardmoors notoriety and I was pretty much with him all the way to the summit. 3hrs07mins to the top.

The mist was still really thick and the rocks very damp and slippy so coming off Scafell required full concentration and navigational awareness. A lady in front took a really nasty fall busting her cheek open, and then Jon Steele took a dive about 10 minutes later. The third checkpoint was located at Esk Hause shelter, a cross roads for the many paths that come up from Borrowdale and Langdale. This is a place I know really well so was running with confidence as to its location. At this point I’d been joined by Dave Catterick who’d spotted me in my Striders vest, but I’m not sure if he or the many others were confident that I was leading them to the checkpoint. I was, and eventually it appeared out of the mist to my relief. Back to Styhead for the fourth checkpoint where the girl I was running with found out she was third placed lady and with that seemed to hit the turbo button and was off. The descent back to Seathwaite took its toll on my legs and by the time I’d made it off the mountain my legs were like jelly. Dave had caught me up again at this point as we checked in. I went off to the toilet as he pressed on.

From here we followed the Allerdale Ramble down the otherside of the valley and I’d expected it to be relatively easy running back to Keswick as it had been in the first half. I couldn’t have got it more wrong and the track sapped my energy. A killer hill leading up to Watendlath beat me up and so many people passed me at this point I was beginning to feel a little demoralised. After about a mile of steep climbing it eventually leveled off and headed back down towards the final checkpoint where the lady who had taken a nasty fall on the summit passed me, bandaged and bloodied but pressing on regardless.

The final stretch to Keswick was flat and as I rolled in towards the finish the crowds clapped and cheered. A great feeling after a very tough race finishing in 80th place in 6hr55mins.

Carlton Challenge, North Yorks Moors, Wednesday, May 15, 2013

BS / 5m / 1181ft

Anita Clementson

On the sunny evening of 15th May, four Striders set off on a lovely sunny evening to a small fell race on the Cleveland Hills.

Race ‘registration’ was at the top of the hill (rather strange for a fell race to start at the top of the hill I thought). Jan parked her car amongst the others at the side of the road. A queue was formed near a car where registration was taking place. Bargain at £6!

Anita leads the way across the moors.

In true fell race style the ‘toilet stop’ was to find some shrubbery or discreet side of the hill to relieve yourself pre-race. Approx 100 runners were set off after a brief announcement. First going was through the heather and bracken slightly downhill, soon there was a clear line of runners ahead. The rain earlier in the day made for some slippy conditions and I found the going downhill bit quite tricky over peaty uneven ground, I thought I’d better dig in and speed up though as didn’t want to lose sight of any runners in front of me in case I got lost. (although the map showed quite a simple loop) but there is always the risk of this happening and easily taking a wrong corner, especially when you are concentrating on your footing so much and not taking much notice of what is going on ahead of you.

After a couple of miles of going downhill (and knowing there would be an ‘up’ at somepoint), the route went through a lovely woodsetting. Then we joined the ‘yellow brickroad’, the familiar paving of the Cleveland Way. I could spot plenty of runners dotted out ahead of me. I dug in and managed to close the gap quite well. The views across to Teeside and Roseberry Topping were stunning. Up and up (I’m sure didn’t go down as far as this!) and then finally reached the trig point at the top and could see it was just a short descent to the race finish. Down the ‘devil steps’, these were tricky and I ended up walking down and lost precious time. First time I ended a race not out of breath.

Good results from other Striders with the ladies team represented by myself Jan and Laura, 6th out of 9 possible places. Jan did splendidly though and came 1st in her age category. Mike also had a good run, also winning his age category, and Laura whom has taken to the fell circuit very well in her short time with the Striders, also had a good one.

Highly recommended and this race would be good for any fell newbies as an easy route and distance not too far.

Snods 6, Snods Edge, Wednesday, May 15, 2013

6.25 miles

Shaun Roberts

Rubbish. Utterly useless. Sadly, Elvet Striders performances at Snods Edge were truly awful. This is the quiz I’m talking about. Failing to name the “lithuated lemon drink invented in 1929”, for example cost us dearly (‘Seven-Up’) … as did failing to actually get right answers such as ‘Anastasia’ onto the quiz paper, though I blame a certain Dutchman for that one …

The race, you ask? Well, let’s get me out of the way first. I had a good fast start, legged it out of the big dip, and felt Simon breathing on my shoulder. Managed to stretch ahead, and kept in front of him for a surprisingly long time, and went through 5K in 20:45 or so … so far so good. Then just as we went off the tarmac section he went past, and I wasn’t to see much of him again. Then I had another battle with a ‘PB Fitness’ runner, and he kept me honest till the finish, so I ended up pushing quite hard the whole way, and was well-pleased to get round in 43 minutes plus the small change.

photos © and courtesy Sara Sarginson


Meanwhile … at the sharp end, Will had won the race, after coming in second twice, I think, in previous attempts. Tom came in third, confirming how well he’s going at the moment, and Simon had overtaken a couple more to come in eighth. If our good friends and hosts the Bounders had been keeping track of team entries, I reckon we’d have been a shoe-in for the team prize. It is even dimly possible that my eleventh position might have qualified for a gadgie prize, had there been one, but more likely one of those young fit lads at the front will have turned out to be 59. One day …

photos © and courtesy Sara Sarginson

Louise and Greta.

For our ladies, Carolyn, Jules and Rachel all had good runs, and with the largest number of entries from any team, we were well-represented throughout the field.

After the race, the usual festivities in the village hall were a good crack. Excellent bottled beers, a superb spread of food: curries, pizzas, pies, token salad … and a fine selection of puddings (thanks for yours, Lydia!), of which special mention goes to the carrot cake. Then the above-mentioned quiz, of which enough said, and the raffle, which we were seriously unlucky in, the notable exception being Carolyn who scooped a fine red hat with a bottle of wine inside.

So … many thanks to Blackhill Bounders for another splendid and well-organised evening! We’ll be back …

Sara Sarginson took some excellent photographs catching quite a few Striders in a good mood at a gate … more at link below:


Pos Name Club Cat Time
1 Will Horsley M 37:34
3 Tom Reeves M 40:49
8 Simon Gardner M 42:05
11 Shaun Roberts M 43:16
13 Cate Clarke PB Fitness F 44:21
27 Conrad White M 47:12
34 Carolyn Bray F 48:42
35 Marco Van Den Bremer M 49:07
37 Bill Ford M 49:22
49 Juliet Percival F 51:09
52 Rachel Bullock F 51:57
57 Danny Lim M 52:32
57+ Lucy Cowton F 52:45-ish?
58 Jean Bradley F 53:06
60 Paul Beal M 53:37
71 Lydia Hutchinson F 56:09
72 Louise Barrow F 56:19
73 Greta Jones F 56:19
76 George Nicholson M 57:32
76+ Barrie Evans M 60:00-ish?
77 Karen Chalkey F 60:24
79 Victoria Tindale F 61:44
80 Mike Elliot M 62:26
81 Andy James M 62:30
82 Christine Farnsworth F 62:50
84 Jo Richardson F 63:06
85 Dave Robson M 63:09

89 finishers.

Beverley 10k, Sunday, May 12, 2013

Rachael Bullock

I always look forward to running in my ‘home’ county of East Yorkshire, and this was a race I had never done before, but I knew it was a very popular one, so I signed up nice and early. It would also be my first 10 K (my favourite distance) of the year and I had been in better form than ever lately, so I was super excited about the race and felt confident of getting a good time! Vdot, based on my recent Parkrun time, told me 46-47 mins. I had never even broken 50 before, but, spurred on by my recent form, I proceeded to tattoo my arm with the appropriate mile splits to achieve 47 minutes.

As we lined up for the start next to Beverley minster, I was getting quite nervous and thinking about how stupid I was to aim for 47 mins and how demoralising it was going to be to look down at my arm and realise I was hopelessly behind schedule!! And then I realised I forgot to drink before lining up…and it was really quite warm…ahh!

Oh well…off we went, felt like I was running quite slow but was glad when I realised I was ahead of schedule for the first mile (of course, I always go off too fast). But then as we left the town centre and onto the Westwood (a nice green place with a race course, a golf course and lots of cows), we started to go up a small hill and I was struggling already and also has a horrible stomach ache! This hill gradually got longer and steeper, but I fought on up it, even though I was already feeling knackered. Luckily the course is very pleasant (Beverley is a very nice market town surrounded by rolling countyside), so maybe that helped to ease some of the pain. By the second mile, I was behind schedule by about 30 secs, but I tried not to let it worry me, and I had expected it anyway! Changed my target to anything under 50 mins…!

Next 2 miles were a bit more enjoyable. But by around mile 4 I started to feel pretty horrible – had a cold, prickly feeling on my skin; maybe I was dehydrated. Think I took the 5th mile pretty slow. But then at 5 miles, an old compadre from Pock runners, Adele (who I was normally about 10 mins behind when I used to run for them!), came from behind with some words of encouragement…and this was just what I needed, it helped me SO MUCH and I was so grateful! Spent the last mile-and-a-bit duelling with her. It was great, I have never really battled like that with anyone before in a race (I normally just give in, claiming that ‘I like to run my own race’!)! The last mile also goes back down the hill across the Westwood and the wind was behind us, which helped a lot.

As we re-entered the town I knew the finish must be close and tried to give everything I had. As usual, I gave this a bit too early and when what I thought was the finish was actually the 6-mile marker, I thought I was going to have to walk last 0.2 miles! But somehow I kept going, though by now I couldn’t quite catch Adele. And did I manage the sub-50?! Yes! 48.08 – better than I thought I was going to achieve during my mid-race struggles! Geees was it hard though! I really don’t want to go back over 50 mins again now…but if it’s going to be that hard everytime…well…I ain’t looking forward to 10 K’s so much as I used to!! Overall a very nice race though…and I will remember it very well as my first sub-50 🙂

Etape Caledonia, Pitlochry, Scotland, Sunday, May 12, 2013

81 miles

Dougie Nisbet

Yes, it’s true, in case you’re wondering. The Etape Caledonia is indeed a walk in the park compared to the Etape Pennines. That’s not to say it’s easy, it’s just not as hard or as brutal as the Pennines.

We were staying about a mile from the Start. ‘Downstream’ unfortunately, which meant that I wasn’t sure how early to get out of bed and make my way along to the Start. The instructions suggested ‘at least an hour’, which meant there was potentially a lot of hanging around time shivering in a Pitlochry dawn waiting for my time to go. In the end I could have left things much later and found the pavements pretty clear even with the early starters already well on the way. I turned up with almost an hour to spare and settled down to wait. This was a very smooth operation; some wifie on a big chair they’d borrowed from Wimbledon was barking instructions to riders, while boards were held up indicating which wave should be where. I was in wave AA and not for the first time I wondered whether I was the only person in the universe who didn’t make something up for their estimated finish time. Looking at some of the generously clad riders who shuffled past in the early waves I did suspect I’d be seeing them again before the finish. Finally it was wave AA’s time to go! The final wave! I clunked into my pedals and felt a tingle of excitement as we followed the 4000+ riders north out of Pitlochry.

I’d expected to be frustrated by rider congestion but it wasn’t that bad. I’d sit on a wheel for a while, rest, then bridge the gap to the next group. I tried working with riders but nobody was playing. Time and time again I’d follow a wheel, and when the rider peeled away I’d take a session, then move aside to discover they were not in my slipstream. It was a bit frustrating although I did catch the wheels of riders 298 & 299 for a few miles and belted along in their slipstream until Tummel Bridge where I had to let go. Shortly after a rider alerted me that my reading glasses had dropped out my pocket and I decided that the responsible thing would be to go back for them in case they went through a tyre. I pulled over, turned round, faced back down the narrow single-track road at the steady stream of cyclists coming the other way, and thought, nah, the glasses are staying where they are. They’ll go nicely with the tacks and screws.

Dougie out on the road.

Approaching a feeding station a marshal with a megaphone bellowed clearly, “Feeding to the left; straight through on the right”, which apparently means, stop anywhere and wander about chatting to your mates. Having tetchily negotiated the obstacle course I settled in with a loose bunch and felt eyes upon my bike. A voice said with a hint of incredulity, “Are they tubulars?!”. Not sure whether to be proud or embarrassed, I said they were, the same ones that had done the Pennines, although they’ve roughed it up and down to Gateshead a few times since then. I was given a run-down of the course and the upcoming Schehallion, of which I was a little apprehensive, and then it started to rain.

I’d tried to go for a time in the Green Jersey timed section but had been thwarted by people riding four abreast and talking about last night’s telly, but I was up for the King of the Mountains. Schehallion. The red mats appeared and I put the foot down. A minute or so later it occurred to me that I had absolutely no idea how long Schehallion was. 1 mile? 3, 5? Perhaps I should’ve done some homework. I tried to pace my effort on where I imagined the finish might be, which in the end came sooner than I expected. Well if that was The Hill, it could have been far worse. A nice fast descent now, although not too fast as it was raining quite heavily now and I wasn’t riding on the grippiest tyres in the world.

On and off solo riding until about 20 miles to go when two riders passed who were clearly working together. I thought, I’m having some of that and leapt on the wheel. Initially I let the working rider in front of me, but after a bit of non-verbal communication I made it clear I was willing to do my bit. They looked at me and the bike and presumably decided to risk letting me mix in and help out, and then followed an absolutely fantastic 5 miles or so of fast riding. It was good old fashioned close-formation chain-gang stuff and we overtook other riders as if they were standing still. I knew I couldn’t keep it up but I intended to work with these guys and beat the clock as long as I could. We charged through a feeding station and during one of my spells at the front I looked ahead and was sure I could see someone driving a Chaise Longue. Sure enough, it was Durham Tri’s Ian Mackenzie, more commonly seen with Allan Seheult trackside on Wednesdays, riding on a recumbent. I managed to shout a few words of encouragement as we flew past at a speed I knew was unsustainable. Another mile or two and I was burnt out. I thanked my chain gang for the lift and took my foot of the throttle.

The final big climb was a cheeky little number in the last 10 miles to Pitlochry. I was pretty tired but encouraged to see my name splashed on the road as I hit the last hill. Soon we were in the outskirts of Pitlochry and a spectator shouted, “800 metres to go. If you’ve anything left, give it all NOW!”. I got very excited. I had something left, and I gave it all! Sadly with 600 metres still to go we turned a corner and there was a long drag to the finish and the waiting crowd. I’d given my all and it had all gone. I was knackered and feeling slightly foolish as I slowed down for a rest at the very time I should have been sprinting for home. But the line came quickly enough and the race was over. As I crossed the line I heard the commentator say that there were just under 1000 riders still to finish. Given that I started in the 27th and final wave I reckon I must’ve passed most of those in the last 5 hours. I thought it was busy.

Overall compared to the Pennines I’d have to say I prefer the Caledonia course. The hills are gentler so it’s possible to get into some sort of rhythm, and you can fly down the descents without having to touch the brakes every few seconds. Despite the 4000+ field there was rarely a problem with congestion, although next year I’m going to get into an earlier wave and see if I can sit on a few more wheels.

Pier to Pier Race, South Shields to Roker, Sunday, May 12, 2013

6.9 miles

Carolyn Bray

Grand Prix Race. Sprint Champion Race.

Adam heading for the soft stuff at the start.

Finally, I’d managed to make it (first timer!) to the extra extra extra long start line of the Pier to Pier Race in South Shields. The beach line up was dotted with plenty of purple vests – the usual good Strider turnout for this Grand Prix race. It was a great day for racing, bright and slightly breezy. I got pretty chilly at the start but soon warmed up once I’d made my first bad choice in direction over the left hand sand bank; my footsteps sank deep into the sand whilst those on the right strode along the surface of the wetter, firmer terrain. Time to start paying attention to the many choices in direction that would be ahead of me! I tried to take the racing line from then on and the race became not only beautiful but good fun too! It flew over, I really enjoyed it and I got a Mars bar and a bag of crisps followed up by a carvery sandwich at the Harbour View in Roker.

What more could a girl want!

Louise and Denise on the last slog along the beach.

Anita Dunseith took lots of good photographs … more at link below:


Pos Name Club Cat Time
1 JENKIN, Dan Durham City Harriers M 0:37:04
18 WALKER, Adam MU20 0:41:47
49 REEVES, Thomas MV40-49 0:44:56
50 CUTTER, Vanessa Gateshead Harriers F 0:44:57
79 GARDNER, Simon MV40-49 0:46:37
94 WALTON, Graeme MV40-49 0:47:17
112 ROBERTS, Shaun MV50-59 0:48:09
227 GOURLEY, Aaron M 0:52:09
234 FORD, Brian MV40-49 0:52:21
250 STEEL, Jamie MV40-49 0:52:53
264 THOMPSON, Andrew M 0:53:08
266 BRAY, Carolyn FV35-44 0:53:15
272 BELL, Megan FV35-44 0:53:23
306 HUTCHINSON, John MV50-59 0:54:51
308 WALTON, Katy F 0:54:54
333 LIM, Danny M 0:55:30
363 DUNSEITH, Mark M 0:56:23
374 MCKENNA, Jackie FV45-54 0:56:58
403 YOUNG, Jan FV60-69 0:57:44
408 MOORE, Peter MV60-69 0:57:53
414 BRADLEY, Jean FV55-59 0:58:02
446 SMITH, Alan MV60-69 0:58:59
471 GARDHAM, Sue FV35-44 0:59:54
478 BARROW, Louise F 1:00:08
479 MASON, Denise F 1:00:10
487 DICK, Barbara FV45-54 1:00:36
501 NICHOLSON, George MV60-69 1:01:05
529 HUDSON, Melanie FV35-44 1:01:56
530 ROBSON, David MV60-69 1:02:02
552 PRESTON, Katherine FV35-44 1:02:49
558 GARNHAM, Laura F 1:02:59
580 EVANS, Barrie John MV60-69 1:03:43
588 NICHOLSON, James MV60-69 1:03:58
613 FORD, Jill FV45-54 1:04:49
625 FARNSWORTH, Christine Anne FV60-69 1:05:27
675 CHALKLEY, Karen FV45-54 1:07:35
677 CLARK, Robert M 1:07:39
687 ELLIOT, Mike MV60-69 1:08:20
762 BUTLER, Katie F 1:13:42
786 THOMPSON, Margaret FV60-69 1:17:39

812 finishers.

Cowpen Bewley Trail Race, Billingham, Thursday, May 9, 2013

Stewart Mcconnell

I was made aware of this race series after reading a previous race report for the Wynyard race on this website so when I saw that they had a Billingham event I thought I would check it out. The race was pretty local to me and it was in an area where I spent a lot of my misspent youth, the site was a local refuse site when I was younger and I was keen to see how they had transformed it into a local nature spot.

I was under the impression that this would be a small very low key event so I was shocked on turning up that the car park was overflowing and the place was jammed, looking around at the runners and there were people wearing club kits from all over the place-nymac, Gateshead and lots of Marsh house harriers. As I made my way up to register I bumped into the 2 other striders in the race, Alister was chirpy as always and was lining up for his 3rd race of the week(the man is a machine) and I met Mel and her friend Paul and we made our way to the start. The race route was a two lap affair that passed the finish line a few hundered meters into each lap and was in a kind of figure of eight shape, it was mainly grassy single track with some gravelly paths and a biggish hill thrown in to boot.

The race start resembled a cross country start with 200 or so runners all trying to filter into a small track, a bit of elbowing and we are all passing the finish on the first lap, the weather was kind and the course was quite nice so the first lap flew by with the hill not feeling too bad, the runners started to thin out so it made it easier to make progress winding through the wooded trails on route to the hill for the second time, the hill this time didn’t feel so easy and I was glad I didn’t have a heart rate monitor on as I think the result would have scared me. With only half a lap and a quick downhill we were soon at the finish, crossing the line my first impression is the race was short but my garmin was spot on 5k, Alister, Mel and Paul finished shortly after me and there were some classic sprint finishes at the line.

All in all it was a well marshalled and pleasant event and at only £3 a go it’s a cheap way to push yourself in a race condition on a weeknight, I will certainly be doing more in the series.

Les Allcorn 10K, Hulne Park, Alnwick, Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Graeme Walton

I entered this one a while ago after reading a couple of reports on the website describing at as scenic and undulating. With temperatures exceeding 20 degrees I left Durham with Alister and Megan and we headed for Alnwick. A 7:30pm midweek start time meant it was always going to be a bit tight to get there on time but we made it with time to spare (10 minutes), picked up our numbers and made our way to the start line.

Before the off ...

The temperature had now dropped to a very pleasant 12 degrees so off I went for the first time this year wearing just a vest (and shorts of course). The route started on trails and for the first couple of miles was mainly uphill. I didn’t have a race plan other than to enjoy the scenery so I dropped into a nice rhythm and fought my way up the hills. I’d had a quick word with Alister who had told me that after the initial climbing the course was all downhill, sounds good to me I thought. After reaching the high point there was a lovely downhill section lasting for about a mile and a half which was all on tarmac getting me to the halfway point. A welcome drinks station at this point prepared me nicely for the second half of the race. The rest of the route was on trails some of which were a little rough underfoot with a few cattle grids to either avoid or run over the sheets of plywood placed on them.

I was able to give it a bit of a sprint finish which brought me home quite close to my PB so I was well chuffed. I was soon followed in by Alister with Bill chasing him home on the way to a massive PB. Megan, Ian, Louise, Dave and Melanie all finished strongly completing the Striders contingent. The finish was back near the parking area saving any walking after a tough run.

Despite this being a bit of a hike midweek this is a beautiful run with some stunning scenery that make this a must for me again next year.