This was the 24th edition of this race held by Sunderland Harriers, it’s a stone’s throw from my house yet I’ve never ran it, as the evening was pleasant I decided on a last minute hill race. I’ve spent the last few months running long miles on the fells, and what with the introduction of Geoff’s vomit inducing, yet strangely satisfying endurance sessions, I wanted to test the legs.
I usually spend far too long preparing for a race, but as this was a hurried decision I turned up with whatever kit was in my boot. After parking up and purchasing a number (£7 EOD – bit pricey / mile [still cheaper than Roseberry Topping! Ed.]) from a parked up car, I located a handful of Striders and eyed up the field. I became a tad concerned as lithe youngsters were returning to their cars to swap trail shoes for spikes. A few mumbles and we huddled together behind a flag at the bottom of the hill. Race director spoke some indistinguishable instructions as we awaited the off. I realised we would need to filter into almost single file so I edged close up the pack. Off we went through the long grass and scrambled up the first hill, which soon levelled out as we made our way round, then up the monument, round the monument and back down past those running up. Still running single file I was pleased of my position as I let myself go down the hill (again – skills mastered from Geoff’s endurance sesh). The route took us through the woods, and it was here I regretted my shoe choice, the floor was slippery and trail shoes just weren’t gripping, so my pace slowed.
I was occasionally passed by a couple of runners as the trail levelled, but found strength on the uphill and was able to pull my place back. The route follows 2 laps of the woods, then finishes with a steep climb back up to the top of the monument. I was aware that Simon Gardner was somewhere very close and expected him to fly past me at any moment, but with one final push I just managed edge forward for a photo finish.
This was a fantastic no frills race, short, sharp and full of hills to test the legs. Good support, mainly from Sunderland Harriers placed around the course. A great race to hone your skills, and in a fantastic setting. Great for those wanting to go off-road without heading into the wilderness. I finished 35th / 110 which I was fairly pleased with, I certainly recommend this race and will be back next year. Well done to all other Striders – Simon, Nigel, Flip, Kelly, Helen, Denise, and Kerry.
|1||Scott Ellis||North Shields Poly||17:09|
|21||Angela McGurk||Jarr & Heb||20:54|