Daily Archives: 21st December 2013

Hamilton Lake parkrun, New Zealand, Saturday, December 21, 2013

Angela Coates and Paul Pascoe

We’ve been waiting for a few years for Hamilton to put on a parkrun as we have visited Lake Rotoroa quite a few times for a walk and to see the Pukeko (a wading Bird). Finally we spotted (not that I’m stalking parkrun NZ or anything) that a parkrun was coming to Hamilton. Would we be able to get to it during our holidays, too right we could, or no worries mate as they say here.

We turned up outside the Yacht Club, where the start is, in good time and immediately were greeted with enthusiasm and friendliness. We were informed about the running club, the course and how proud they were of their runners, especially the family that had attended all 10 runs so far and how the little boy had knocked so much time off his first run/walk and how he really enjoyed it now. That’s what parkrun is all about.

Angela and Paul. Some people will go to great lengths to get out of running the Christmas Handicap.

Anyway we set off on a glorious sunny morning, no strong wind like the night before, at 8:00 (the start time in New Zealand). The route is one lap of the lake on path and boardwalk then a little add in loop on grass to make up the 5k. After dodging the Pukekos and geese it was a good run with a few twists and turns, feeling okay until just after the 3k (for both of us actually), then the feeling of the heat kicked in, but we carried on and even managed to avoid the cross fitters at the end (there was a group of people doing cross fit right at the finish, a Christmas treat for them doing it outside, yeah right).

We thanked the organisers at the end and apologised that we couldn’t go for drinks and cake as we needed to vacate our Motel. It is a fantastic location, we love it anyway, and would definitely go back. The magic of parkrun, the other side of the world but still the same format, great organisers and volunteers and the diversity of runners.

Saltwell 10k

Having done over 250 organised runs now, you’d think it would be impossible for me to find an established one I haven’t yet done. Turns out there are still plenty, including this, proudly billed as England’s oldest Road race.

The weather was lousy for this one – rain, wind the lot – right up to the start when suddenly it stopped. A big Striders turnout stood on the start line so obviously we were all attracted by the last big chip-timed 10k of the season, or maybe by the whisky miniature and shot glass which was very unusual. I don’t think it can be because of the prospect of a fast time as if that’s what you’re after then I can point you in several other directions. I’d recently done the Gateshead parkrun held in the same park so had some idea that the terrain was ‘rolling’ but this managed to cram in even more climb and descent. The course is three and a half laps and finished on the only grass on the course which led to some ‘You’ve been framed’ moments as runners suddenly hit the sodden grass.

There were great performances by Rob Everson and Richard Hall for the men and Katy Walton and Claire Readey for the ladies as well as brave performances from many others, Kirsty pipping Jacquie for the umpteenth time this year, Denise and Kerry continue to improve as well as a welcome return for Emma who looked as if she had a great work night out the day before… Many thanks to Graeme Walton and all the other supporters – those cheers for the purple really keep you going as you are suffering, and I did plenty of that.

Tour De Helvellyn, Saturday, December 21, 2013

BS / 37.3m / 6562ft

Geoff Davis

To give Striders a feel for this race I’ll quote from the organiser’s blurb:

“Now in its fourth year, the TdeH has fast become a classic ultra run. Traditionally run on the shortest Saturday in December the route is a tough circuit around Helvellyn starting and finishing at Askham on the edge of the Lakes. The distance is 38 miles with several thousand feet of ascent and descent. The terrain is tough mountain trails and so fell running and navigational skills are essential. Entries are strictly limited to experienced and competent entrants. This is not an event for novice trail runners…!”

Tom Reeves and I like the occasional break from the mud of cross country & this would be our third ‘Tour’. For us the race provides a focus for our winter training and a stern challenge before the Christmas festivities kick in. If you arrive at the start of the ‘Tour’ underprepared then you will suffer – big time! Previous years have served up snow, freezing temperatures, strong winds, rain, hail and darkness but we were still back for more! This year it would be gale force winds that would be our biggest problem supplemented by a hail storm in the middle of the day and heavy rain for the last hour or so of the race.

It was still dark when we set off from the start at our chosen time of 07.30. We were slightly amused to see the head torch lights of the ‘underprepared’ scattered all over Askham Moor as we got into our stride. Tom and I know the Moor fairly well so we were across quite quickly accompanied by two Tynedale Ladies (Steph Scott & Bev Redfern) and someone Tom had met whilst out BG recceing (Mark Pearson). The only problem was that we were running into the teeth of a south westerly gale! Having such a wind in your face for over four hours tends to sap the energy somewhat and by half way we were both fairly ‘pooped’. However, we were still together, although we’d lost the Ladies but not Mark.

During that ‘first half’ the wind had brought us to a near standstill as we crossed the mountain pass of Boredale Hause and recent rains had flooded the fields around Patterdale which meant we had to wade through knee deep, freezing water to get across (the swans seemed to be enjoying it!). Furthermore, as we approached Glenridding, I heard a deep rumble of thunder which seemed to come from Helvellyn itself and within a couple of minutes we were running through rain and hail that was just sheeting down! To add to all this, the ground was absolutely saturated and the steep descent from Sticks Pass had been an uncomfortable slippery slide, although I did manage to stay upright – just!

At the start of the ‘second half’, as we passed Grisedale Tarn, the wind was now behind us, and instead of barring our way, it threatened to send flying onto our faces across the rough, rocky path. None the less we pressed on and things got a little easier as the gradient became less steep and the surface more forgiving as we approached Patterdale for the second time. After a further wade through the flooded fields and a wave to the swans we stopped at the check point for a quick cup of tea and ginger biscuit.

We were now into the final quarter of the race. Although Tom and I were always ‘in touch’ during this section we didn’t run together much or exchange many words. After 30 miles you really need to dig deep and call upon your own reserves of fitness and determination to carry on. As dusk started to close in, and the rain began to fall by the bucket load, driven on by the still strong wind thankfully now at our backs, Askham Moor finally appeared after more than 8 hours, 35 miles and countless gallons of rain since we’d crossed it that morning. Tom drew level with me, spoke some encouraging words, and pressed on. I knew his two young sons would make his life hell if he didn’t finish ahead of me!

It was nearly dark now but I could just about manage to see without my torch to navigate back across the moor and muster up the energy to pass a couple of competitors on the final run back to the starting point in Askham village. What a day! I’d finished in 8 hours 51 minutes – much quicker than I thought I would have managed when I was half way round and only 3-4 minutes slower than last year when conditions were considerably better. Tom had come in a couple of minutes ahead of me and Mark about 5 minutes behind. We were all pleased with our performances and delighted to have finally finished such a gruelling and punishing event. If only someone could bottle that feeling – they’d make a fortune!