Monthly Archives: January 2014

That’s Lyth, Kendal, Sunday, January 26, 2014

24 miles

Rachael Bullock

Despite frequently proclaiming that I have no intention of doing a marathon anytime soon, I don’t think it was too hard back in the summer for Jules to persuade me it would be a good idea to sign up for something just short of a marathon at 24 miles long. So eager was Jules, in fact, that she was on the start line wearing the number 3!

Susan and Geoff informed us several times that they had always had good weather for this event in the past. But that was of little condolence as we stood outside the scout hut (Kendal first!) in Kendal in the dark at 8 am in the rain … knowing that it had already been raining solidly for a whole week (and I imagine the whole winter!) beforehand and so the ground would be sodden … and also knowing that the higher we got, the wind would add to the rain. But, I do believe we were all smiles, even though I was a little apprehensive about the weather and about being able to carry my legs around such a distance (17 miles is the furthest the poor wee things have endured previously).

The first 6 or 7 miles to the first check-point actually passed quite quickly. I was a little bit worried about the spritely pace that Geoff was setting, but decided it was probably just my legs trying to get going. The malt loaf and flap jack provided a much needed energy boost! But by CP1 I think we were all drenched through, despite being dressed in full Gore-tex! Mind you my newly-purchased waterproof socks were holding out well – my feet, amazingly, were the only part of my body with dry patches on at the end!

After CP1, we ascended onto the highest point of the route, Whitbarrow Scar. The climb was not too bad, although it was evident that I cannot walk as fast as Geoff and Susan! Was a bit exposed up there though, and my water-laden gloves were not keeping my hands warm AT ALL! Was very glad to descend and head towards CP2, where tea and biscuits were consumed and hand resuscitation was successfully performed. By this point, 14 miles had been covered and I was feeling much more optimistic about being able to manage 10 more, especially as the toughest section was over with. From this point on, however, my legs were getting more and more tired with every half-mile!

Vital refueling after the event.

CP3 seemed to come very quickly after the second. This was in someone’s garage and more sweetness was consumed! Now only 6 miles left to go. After boldly announcing on leaving the check-point that I was going to beast out a 10K PB, all I could manage was to get slower and slower! The last 4 miles were pretty damn painful and all my hinges were hurting! But spirits were high, especially as a bit of sun finally started to peep through! I went over the last stile onto the road into Kendal in OAP fashion and tried to give some welly and overtake a few people during the closing stages! As usual though I started my sprint finish waaay too early and ended up pretty much hobbling into the scout hut at the finish! Was very chuffed to have completed it and still be running at the end! A lovely, friendly event and the scenery must be great when you can actually see it! Despite the weather, I think we all had a good day! Would definitely consider doing it again!

Northern XC Champs, Knowsley Safari Park, Saturday, January 25, 2014


Denise Benvin

Denise ploughs her way through the mud ...Once again my poor long suffering family got dragged to another run, to once again cement their opinion that I am not quite a full shilling. Except this time they wouldn’t be wrong, it was my first ever cross country race and I was a bit nervous but I awoke to bright skies, a good start so I thought and that’s what it was, as it went downhill rapidly. The journey from my parents to the Safari park only took 10 minutes so we had plenty of time for a cuppa before collecting numbers etc, luckily we had a seat before the heavens opened with both rain and hail and there was standing room only in the restaurant. Number and time chip collected off we went in search of the racing except anything short of wellies would have been described as inadequate foot wear so we didn’t wonder too much which was just as well as it started chucking it down again and we quickly went for yet another cuppa.

By the time it was the senior women’s race (the 9th) the rain and hail had diminished to only light rain but the course had seen 8 prior races, once you had plodded through the mud to the start it didn’t look to bad till you got to the top of the hill, then it was just a sea of mud that was in many places past your ankles. I had to rescue my shoe on a couple of occasions and did think that when I got home I would stick some duck tape in my bag for next time.

I did consider calling it a day for the middle 7 km but as I was there I might as well finish and the race was luckily only 8km for us women, although I wasn’t amused when I could see the finish line and realised that there was a huge loop to do before I could cross it and it was up a hill to add insult to injury. However both myself and most of the field made to the finish. Although next year I think if the competition is at the Safari Park we should get paid for creating the perfect landscape for hippos or mud fish. I did spare more than a thought for the senior men who had to follow us for 12km in once more deteriorating weather. This was my first XC race but it won’t be my last I am sure.

Brass Monkey Half Marathon, York Racecourse, Sunday, January 19, 2014

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. Endurance Champion Race - click flag for more information.

Colin Blackburn

Grand Prix Race. Endurance Champion Race.  Striders who know me will know that I am not usually one for the roads but that I have been turning up for some of the club’s classic road races over the last couple of years: GNR, Brampton and the GNR again! This year I decided to tick off the Brass Monkey, though given the 90 minutes I spent trying to access a crashing Knavesmire Harriers’ website it was nearly a write off before I even started. Having managed the almost impossible, to get just one entry into the race – no more, no fewer! – I joined 20 or so Striders on the bus to York very early on a cold January Sunday morning; a similar number made their own way there. By the time we got to York the forecast “sunny periods” hadn’t arrived and so I prepared for a wet run. But, by the start, it was a bit warmer than at home and so the thermal came off and my gloves and hat were left in my bag. In fact it was probably pretty ideal: the cold side of mild, overcast, light drizzle and no wind.

I’d not really prepared for a half marathon relying instead on it being a comfortable distance for me. In fact several days cross-country skiing the previous weekend, including a very tough 15km of a disastrous ski marathon, had taken their toll. I hadn’t realised quite how much until about halfway round the Brass Monkey lollipop of a course. Muscles that really shouldn’t ache when running started to ache, muscles that I only ever seem to use for skiing but muscles that were still complaining. It made for a very painful final six miles. What probably made things worse was that everyone says this is a potential PB course. No wind, no sun, and nicely cool just added to that potential, a potential my brain didn’t want to waste even if my legs did. So I punished my legs more than I probably should have, but I did get that PB.

Spot the Strider.
photo courtesy and © David Aspin

For those who have not yet done this half marathon, the course is a mix of minor and more minor roads. I’d say it’s as flat as a pancake but the bridge over the A64 is a nasty little climb when your legs are tired after 12 miles of pounding the roads. It’s well marshalled with three well-placed water points. There are some great patches of support as you pass through a couple of villages and there is fantastic support at the finish, well there was by the time I finished. There’s even a bit of wild life to see, about half way round a weasel darted across the road in front of me carrying something like a vole in its mouth.

Once we were all in and changed – and it’s great to be able to get changed in the warm, dry comfort of the race course main building – it was back on the bus for Shipton. It was a short bus trip to the Dawnay Arms for Sunday lunch and a couple of very welcome pints, then a longer sleepier bus trip back to Durham. A tiring but enjoyable day, but one my legs are not going to let me forget just yet.


Pos Name Club Cat Chip Time
1 Matthew Peirson Holmfirth Harriers M 1:10:19
19 Jilly Woodthorpe Barnsley AC F35 1:15:57
83 Gareth Pritchard M 1:21:58
153 Paul Evans M 1:25:51
181 Graeme Walton M40 1:27:17
294 Jeremy Lloyd M45 1:31:08
343 Katy Walton F 1:33:24
347 Rachel Terry F40 1:33:27
376 Stewart Mcconnell M 1:33:29
367 Jonathan Steed M40 1:33:50
511 Colin Blackburn M50 1:38:11
520 Michael Hughes M45 1:38:15
715 Alister Robson M40 1:44:56
759 Rachael Bullock F 1:46:00
826 Jane Ives F40 1:47:53
846 Lucy Cowton F 1:48:37
908 Jackie McKenna F45 1:51:13
1037 Paul Beal M50 1:54:02
1042 Alan Smith M65 1:55:49
1045 Richard Hall the Younger M45 1:54:36
1050 Jacquie Robson F35 1:55:01
1090 Kirsty Anderson F35 1:56:24
1104 Laura Turnbull F 1:57:04
1140 Ian Spencer M50 1:58:08
1164 Kathryn Sygrove F45 1:59:38
1160 Kate Macpherson F40 1:59:44
1252 Sarah Fawcett F50 2:05:17
1349 Christine Anne Farnsworth F60 2:16:23
1429 Margaret Thompson F60 2:31:37

1446 finishers.

Winter Fan Dance Race, Brecon Beacons, Saturday, January 18, 2014


Rob Lister

A few months ago a friend mentioned he was going to do the Winter Fan Dance Race, billed as a gruelling 24km non-navigational race over 2 sides of Pen Y Fan the highest mountain in the Brecon Beacons. So I thought, yeah I’ll have a go at that. So we set off on Friday for the long car journey to Wales with the requisite 36lb Bergen and Army boots packed.

No Coverage.

Saturday morning, 830am saw me and my mate, Tony McGonnell, at the Storey Arms Outdoor Activity Centre, in the howling winds, light drizzle (you know the stuff that gets you wet through….) unable to see the top of the mountain for the low clouds. After the safety briefing and minute silence for the comrades who has lost their lives in the various wars, we were off.

There was about 500 load bearing participants all setting off together, I found this a bit frustrating as the going was very slow making it difficult to find my own pace. The field broke up after about 40 minutes and I was off. The first checkpoint was Pen Y Fan, the wind was howling and it was too dangerous to stop for long so after a brief word we were off again down Jacobs Ladder, stop start down here as the wind was very strong and there was a danger of being blown off the hill. By now I was soaked through having not put my waterproofs on at the beginning, well you can only get as wet as soaking. At the bottom of Jacobs Ladder there was a stream that had to be crossed, nothing for it but to wade through – no other option. Following this was 150 yard scree scramble before following an old Roman road for quite a way past a lake. Cold now but soldiering on, checking people out as I passed them to make sure they were ok, one of the rules of the race is if you find anyone who is in trouble you must stop to help them otherwise risk disqualification, fair enough really in these circumstances in this terrain.

Prize winning presentation. Down another steep bank and across another river, fast flowing up to your knees because of the recent rains, then a bit of undulating terrain to deal with. Due to the severe weather they had a tent where you have to answer some questions so you can be assessed for your fitness to carry on and make sure you hadn’t developed hypothermia then it was onto the turnaround point and checkpoint 2. Here they made sure again that you were ok and ensured you had a 10 minute break and something hot to eat and drink. And then it was off again to do it all in reverse.

Conditions had worsened by now, the wind was stronger and the rain had developed into driving rain making you stop several times up Jacobs Ladder so I didn’t get blown over. Up the top of Jacobs Ladder then about a quarter mile on was stopped again to answer more questions to assess how we were doing to continue.

On the homewards stretch, a long downhill, then all of a sudden you can see it, THE FINISH! the red phone box at the Storey Arms. One fella got so excited he decided to run down, slipped and bust his nose all over his face – ouch!

Once through the final gate, gave my name and number, received the coveted Fan Dance Race patch then off into the hut for hot soup and sausage rolls – most welcomed after an arduous cold wet but awesome experience. My goal had been to complete in 6.5 hours, but looking at my Garmin I got 5 hours 7 min. Pleased with that. Bring on next year.

Marathon de Bessans 10K, France, Sunday, January 12, 2014

Colin Blackburn

I was over in France and this 10K caught my eye. Bessans is a beautiful little town nestling in the Rhône-Alpes. It’s a wide valley surrounded by snow-covered alpine peaks. The 10K started shortly after its sister races, a marathon and a half marathon, and shortly before the children’s races of 5K and 2.5K, there was also a “Just for fun” race, yes they did use the English! As I would be running the Brass Monkey in just seven days I decided that the 10K would be a sensible distance. The pre-race build-up was great, lots of commentary and the race mascot, some sort of devil-come-bear-come-bull, running around annoying people.

Bang on 10:00 the main field was off with the half marathon doing a hilly circuit of the valley, the marathon covered this loop twice. At 10:15, and part of a much smaller field, I was off on the 10K which took a very different route for the first 6K. It was a fairly simple course: a trail dropping down to the river and then following it to the halfway point, then a long steady climb with a couple of short sharp hills back to the finish. For the most part it was a gentle descent but there were a couple of very steep drops that were technically difficult. Just as I got to the 4K-to-go marker I joined the main field – they’d done 17K by this point! This was not easy to do with a pack of elite athletes hogging the trail. Rather than get crushed I decided to pause – it was just after a sharp climb – and let them pass and took a breather.

The next 3K was what felt like a never-ending climb but it did end – after 3K! – and as I crowned the hill the finish area was in sight. It was then a fairly flat course in and I crossed the line in a very creditable, for me, 45:23. Even the 10K competitors got medals – and a bit of tissue to wipe the sweat (or worse) off! After the finish line there was a whole array of nibbles and drink, the French do this so well. I had a cup of vin chaud (mulled wine) and some cake. After waiting for friends who were doing the half and the marathon to finish we all headed for a post race meal, pasta with the local cheese and fresh yoghurt, before the long drive back to Geneva.

After looking at my GPS log I noticed I’d hit around 30kph on that steep descent, that’s some descending for me! Oh, did I mention that this was an XC ski race? No? Well, it was and I recommend that anyone who runs tries one if they can, they are great fun and almost always beautiful. My marathon race the day before on slightly different skis was a disaster, but that’s a much longer story and I don’t want to put you off.

I suffer the effects of snow blindness and exhaustion... and I'm not even racing yet!
photo courtesy and © Dagmar Junghanns

Cathedral Relays, Durham, Sunday, January 12, 2014


Simon Gardner

After the success of the Summer Relays I was delighted when our club secretary Katy sent an email around asking for interest in the winter event which is called the Cathedral Relays – the relay races are a great event to run in and also make fantastic viewing.


So on a bitterly cold morning I picked Katherine up and we made our way to the clubhouse just near the old Durham parkrun finish to meet our fellow team mates. I was originally in a team with Will Horsley and James Garland with myself taking the final leg.

As we approached the start there was no sign of either Will or James so it was decided that I would take the opening leg which was also the first race of the day (Male veterans) which would give James and Will more time to turn up. I’d had a second place finish at Tees’s barrage parkrun the day before so while I was nowhere near peak fitness it had given me some confidence going into the race.

I decided to start near the back to stop me going off to hard, I managed to judge the first part fairly well and when I approached the last 500M of the first lap I felt fairly good. Onto lap 2 and I could see a couple of lads from Crook AC some way in front of me so that was my target. One lung bursting and hideously painful last push and I finished just behind the lads from Crook AC . I was shattered but really pleased with my time 11:41.

At the finish I was greeted by Katy saying “well done, how do you fancy doing the last leg as well?”    NO….. NOT A CHANCE…..

So 12 minutes later I was on the 3rd leg which understandably was a lot slower than the first! (12:31), it transpired that Will and James thought they were running the senior race which started later. The classifications were different for this race so they were classed as veterans not seniors but as I found out in the summer relays it’s a lot more work than people realise so I’ll take the opportunity thank Katy once again.

Katy legging it across the frosty turf.

Speaking of our Club secretary she had a great battle with Rachel Terry which was great to watch. The performance and commitment of all our teams on a bitterly cold day was great and that shows that not only is our club growing but the standard of running is increasing which is fantastic.

Clay Bank East, North York Moors, Sunday, January 5, 2014

BS / 5.7m / 680'

Jan Young

Runners emerge from the start in the valley below ... and Mike H is off and running.
Photo © John Taylor

Mike B, Mike H and I climbed up Cleveland Way footpath from Clay bank top, against freezing headwind along Urra moor edge, 2k incline across Urra Moor to trig on Round Hill, then fast as you can descent down Carr Ridge and Greenhow Plantation woods to finish. Plenty of bog and mud. Had a bad shoes lace day, stopped three times to fasten, threatened to ‘cut them off’ as descending runners passed me. I’ll ensure that doesn’t happen again. Pays to hang around for presentation; Mike B, 2ndM55, picked up wine, his rival having left before presentation. ( If you don’t hang around, you don’t get your prize: organiser’s rule.)

For those of you who haven’t tried fell running and want to build strength and stamina we recommend NEHRA fell runs. All are ‘Enter on Day’, friendly events, compass required only in adverse weather, though map useful if you can’t keep runners in sight, most walk up all the climbs, varied terrain – forest trails, paved paths, heather, most within an hour drive of Durham, fell/trail shoes essential if you want to stay upright on descents/ in bog, car share available.

CLOK New Year Relays, Cowpen Bewley Woodland Park, Sunday, January 5, 2014

60 minute team score event

Dougie Nisbet

I sat in the hotel bar in Peebles drinking my Broughton Ale and reminiscing about the Two Breweries Hill race. But that was a long way away, the immediate question was what to do on Sunday? There were lots of choices: Stockton 5K, Old Monks 6, Clay Bank East, and something interesting involving bicycles and maps at Hamsterley. Hmmm, four options, all good. What’s a man to do? Just at that moment there was a humorous bleep from my trouser pocket so I fished out my phone and checked my email.

Does my bum look big in this?Interesting. So now there was an option 5. The Northern Navigators were short of a cook/runner for a team orienteering event and was I interested? Well, I wasn’t so sure I was with all the other options available. But then I read it again and noticed the bit about it being fancy dress and it immediately became a no-brainer. Well that was settled then – any excuse to wear a wig.

It was a fine but cold morning at Cowpen Bewley. A one hour team score orienteering event was a new one to me, as was the interesting bit about a transition in the middle. That sounded a bit duathlony. I registered and asked how it all worked but was advised that it would all be explained when we started, so on past experience I reckon I’d probably work it all out by the time I finished. I knew where I was with wigs though, and handed out my spare wigs to my bemused team-mates.

A mass start in an orienteering event is always a bit of a hoot and not dissimilar to the start of our own Durham 3 peaks race. Runners sprint of in all directions and you can’t help wondering if they know something you don’t. My team had agreed to rendezvous at the transition point after 35 minutes and have a go at the other map. They were already waiting for me when I got there exactly on 35 minutes, and we grabbed our second map and headed out again. Score events are stressful beasts as you try and weigh up grabbing extra controls and points against the penalty points you get if you happen to be late at the finish. It does, however, lend itself to a neat race. You’ve got an hour to get as many controls as you can. So the race is pretty much done and dusted an hour and a few minutes after it starts.

I was miffed but unsurprised (my standard response) at the results. We’d been beaten by two other Northern Navigators teams. I thought we were the ‘B’ team – but alas, the Cooks with Colds had been beaten by the Northern Navvies. Not even a few extra points for fancy dress could get us out of fifth place.

The well know chefs, Ziggy, Agnetha and, er, Nigella?It was a good event and despite fancy dress being encouraged there was clearly a good mixture of abilities and tactics and a strong competitive spirit. It was also an hour of hard running interspersed by occasional moments of stationary bafflement. Or rest periods as I prefer to call them. There were 15 teams in total and not a splash in purple to be seen. Not surprising with so many other good events also on today, but perhaps it’s an option for next year. It’s a good event for a runner. All orienteering events are.

Old Monks Race, Hart, Sunday, January 5, 2014

5.5 miles

Kirsty Anderson

Kirsty!After struggling to finish both the inaugural Friday Night Half-Marathon and parkrun I was a bit undecided about what to go for on the Sunday with a large number of options available including the Winter Trail Series, Race for Bob and Claybank East as well as the probably wisest “sit at home and nurse my legs” option. Since I am not wise, and running actually seemed to be easier than walking as well as the encouragement and the offer of a lift from Alister and Graeme I finally decided to go for the Old Monks race. Billed as similar to the Hellhole which I’d run earlier in the season and enjoyed, and with the bonus of a rather reasonable 11am start and entries on the day I figured why not.

It was a bit chilly to say the least, and there was frost on the ground all the way from Durham and in the village where we parked up and made our way to the Village Hall to register and stay warm. With numbers allocated and feeling back in our toes we went back to the car (which was parked by the start) to change. Huddling in the car until the last minute possible we suddenly noticed a marshall walking down the road holding the start sign and on inquiring found out that the start had been moved down the hill because of the ice – just as well we were paying attention!


With the new start located there was a bit of confusion when the field set off, everyone started their Garmins and then we found out that we were just being moved to the start which was 5m ahead of where we were. Still, after Garmin resetting (for everyone except Graeme as he’d forgotten his), we were off. The first bit of the course was on undulating tarmac before turning off onto a muddy trail. There were a few steep uphill bits which were mostly walked – unfortunately there isn’t much you can do if it is a narrow path and everyone else is walking! – but it is a good time to catch your breath at least. Unlike the fells though all the downhill bits were on hard surfaces so much much easier to navigate and I really enjoyed the rise and fall of the hills and tracks as we went along.

Without any Striders to chase (Alister, Graeme, Simon and Richard had long gone) I was a bit lost for pace but found some targets to hone in on along the way including one lady who had been very vocal (aka loud) at the start and gone off like a rocket, I was overjoyed to see her at about 3.5 miles and even more overjoyed when I sneaked past her at 4 miles. There was a final long drag up a muddy path but at the top a marshall shouted that it was downhill all the way to the finish so I unleashed my inner Jacquie and threw everything I had down the hill, overtaking quite a few people on the way to the line including someone else I had been trading places with all race. It was too cold to hang around for long afterwards (especially as the lads had been waiting for me for a while) we headed home straight after. I am reliably informed there was tea and cake available in the Village Hall but I got tea and chocolates at the Walton’s, a more than adequate substitute!

All in all I really enjoyed the race, the course was tough but without the muddy descents that scare me on the fells and it was a really good mix of hills and downhills, even for my poor legs. Thoroughly recommended.

Captain Cook’s Fell Race, Great Ayton, Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. King/Queen of the Mountain Race - click flag for more information. BS / 5m / 885'

Katy Walton

Grand Prix Race. King/Queen of the Mountain Race. What better way to start a New Year than with an exciting fast fell race. A great turn out of Striders all in high spirits at the start line. My aim was to complete the race without falling over or losing a trainer. The off soon came along with some rain but that just made the race that little bit more interesting.

Great turnout for this one ... and hardly a hangover in sight.

The climb up to Captain Cooks Monument was just as I remembered, looking up to see what was to climb praying that nobody above my head took a tumble because it would wipe everyone off the hill face, Mike Bennett and Richard Hall over took me at this point, I opted for walking.

Once at the top the downhill was for the brave as I trod carefully losing some places in the race this was where Aaron ran passed giving words of encouragement. Soon a stretch of road where I put my foot down and sped as fast as I could knowing that the time lost on the downhill drop needed to be made up.

Trust a Strider not to dress properly for the occasion! No wonder Lord Humphry B Fluff and Lord Percy Winterfell look so mortified.
Photo courtesy and © John Taylor

Another uphill on the road ahead where I dropped a gear and tackled it by using small steps on my toes to get myself to the top without walking. Through a gate and onto a farmers field followed by a long trail of deep gluey stick mud which mixed in with a lot of gates to open and close proved tricky in stop/starting and trying not to slip in the mud.

The end was here “so soon” I thought. I could hear some cheers from already finished Striders Paul, David, Mike, Graeme, Richard, Aaron, and Shaun. Not far behind me came Jan followed by Camilla and the rest of our pack.

So the first race of the year was complete without falling over and with both trainers still on my feet. Well done everyone!


Pos Name Club Cat Catpos Time
1 James Bulman New Marske Harriers M40 1 33.09
9 Bronwen Owen Scarborough AC FJ 1 35.58
24 Paul Evans M 10 37.20
74 David Gibson M45 14 42.01
77 Michael Bennett M55 2 42.06
81 Graeme Walton M40 17 42.21
90 Richard Hall M55 3 43.01
109 Aaron Gourley M 37 44.08
110 Shaun Roberts M55 5 44.10
114 Katy Walton F 3 44.43
144 Michael Hughes M45 27 46.14
175 Nigel Heppell M55 11 48.46
178 Ralph Heppell *HS M 54 48.47
196 Jan Young F60 2 50.17
212 Camilla Lauren-Maatta F45 7 51.30
227 David Shipman M55 25 53.45
235 Stephanie Barlow F40 9 55.42
244 Kirsty Anderson F 17 59.29
262 Mark Dunseith M 60 80.09
263 Anita Dunseith F 21 80.12

263 finishers
*HS Honorary Strider. Mens’ teams 11th and 18th of 20. Womens’ teams 2nd and 11th of 12.