This weekend gone was the big one! For many people – 17 of us travelled to Harewood House for the National Cross Country Championships, competing amongst the Nations best on what felt like a summer day – no mud was to be found anywhere! A great day against a stunning backdrop, with performances to match!
Congratulations to all who ran the various distances of the Endurancelife Northumberland Coastal Runs, challenging courses but it looked beautiful!
Lastly (though I’m sure there will be more I’ve missed, sorry!) a mention for Sam Renwick, who completed the Transgrancanaria ultramarathon – 128 km long with 7,500 m of ascent – phenomenal achievement after just over a year of running, well done!
Coming up next – the final Harrier League fixture! The ladies and men’s teams are both safely in division 1, but Alnwick is one of the best venues, and we usually finish well here. Anyone who hasn’t collected their number, or who would like one for this weekend please contact Elaine or Geoff, and come and have a go!
Intrigued by the picture on the Duergar Run website of a fierce looking character, and the prospect of being chased through the fells by a wild creature or suchlike, I decided to find out more. I discovered that Duergar comes from the old Norse word Dvergar which means Dwarf. There are many old stories which suggest that these Duergars live in the rocks and hills around Simonside, their purpose being to lure unsuspecting hikers or travellers by torchlight over rocky ravines or into deep bogs. I reckoned they would be happy to target unsuspecting runners too.
I downloaded the GPX route and imported it into my OS Maps app – my ‘just in case’ navigation aid, then pondered the relative merits from my shoe arsenal, opting in the end for my newish Hoka Mafate Speed 2’s, which amongst comfort and cushioning promised much for technical trails. I checked that I could comply with the kit list and that my head torch was charged then set off for the 1-hour drive North to Rothbury.
I couldn’t make this event last year due to a clash with the Northumberland Coastal Marathon which Lesley had run. Although Lesley had recommended I run the Coastal Marathon this year, our eldest Son’s drum exam meant that the only sensible alternative was to take my chances on the Duergar Run!
When I arrived, I parked near to Tomlinson’s Café and Bunkhouse where registration was taking place. I noted a swathe of competitors engaged in essential carb-loading preparations, the choices on offer making me lament my choice of a triple-chocolate muffin from a global chain of coffee shops en route.
I strolled across the bridge to Haugh Car Park, engaging in discussion with other runners (including fellow Strider Karen Wilson) about the ‘steep climbs for 4 miles’ and ‘treacherous declines’. We listened attentively to the safety briefing, which amongst other things called for dynamic risk assessments by all runners. Then we were off, and up, up, up and up a bit more on Whitton Bank Road and Hillhead Road until we hit a trail which continued to climb. Leaving the normality of farm tracks and paths, and passing the first water station, we encountered the challenging climb past caves and a man in traditional costume fiercely beating a bodhran.
At various points which followed we encountered marshals who encouraged us but we also heard screams and noises which could only be associated with a dreaded Duergar! The climbs were often on stone steps which slowed progress, and on the flats (or sections which were less hilly) we had the challenge of running on stone slabs, which were irregular and with gaps between them sufficient to catch an unsuspecting foot.
After Simonside Crag we had a steep technical descent and then a set of forest trails, which were certainly not tourist paths but on balance less climbing to contend with. We enjoyed a further series of descents on slippery loose rocks before the lights of Rothbury started to appear in the distance. At the final water station, I had three jelly beans which provided me with a welcome sugary boost and then I set to work on the final section which was net downhill.
Pleased at this point as I knew I was within 1km of the end, I let my guard drop and on exiting (falling through) the final gate at the drop down to the bridge in Rothbury, I performed one of my trademark barrel rolls. Having managed to maintain forward momentum I regained sufficient composure to lift my pace over the bridge to the finish. A friendly welcome at Tomlinson’s, a t-shirt and a welcome cup of mulled wine followed.
I’d recommend this event without reservation, if you are content with a challenging trail/fell route and the prospect of being captured by a Duergar! Well done to Cold Brew Events for slick organisation, and to the marshals and those involved in supporting this excellent event!
I hear there has been some running this weekend! After the success in speedwork at the cross country last weekend, this week has been all about enjdurance! There are too many success stories to mention every individual, but a few highlights to note –
In Durham, at the Runners of the Lost Ark event, there was a large Strider contingent, with many significant distance PBs achieved. In particular I would like to mention Natalie Bell, as for those who aren’t on Facebook may not know, was running the event for charity and her sister, and completed an incredible 37.2 miles and raised over £1000 – all your training and hard work has certainly paid off! If you would like to read Natalie’s story, have a look at her just giving page.
Over in Ireland, The Scott family were also running laps for many hours! Whilst keeping Stuart company at the Atlas Running Last One Standing event, Susan covered 50 miles, and Stuart kept going just a little longer and achieved a top ten finish, completing 120 miles in 28 hours! That’s 4 miles, every hour, on the hour…
In Seville, Dougie and Stephen were enjoying the sun – or not, while they completed the Seville Marathon. Some holiday!
One last note – if you want to celebrate these achievements and more, buy your ticket for the Awards Night on 30th March! Tickets are available on TeamApp, either through the app on a smartphone or via the website – https://www.teamapp.com
For those who missed it (where have you been?!) we had a cracking weekend at the Thornley Cross Country fixture – first timer Susan Scott followed me into the funnel, soon joined by Corrine and Emma leading the ladies to first place and promotion to the medium pack for Susan and Corrine.
In the men’s race, Stuart Ord was first home in 10th place, followed by Sam Renwick in his inaugural cross country appearance in 20th, both gaining promotion to the medium pack. Graeme Watt was next home in 27th from the medium pack, gaining promotion to the fast pack – well done Graeme! Completing the men’s team were James Garland (who was promoted to the medium pack), Paul Evans and Matt Archer, leading the men to a strong finish in 2nd place.
We also had a great turnout of 17 women and 27 men! Everybody put out a great performance, Thornley has a reputation for being the toughest course so this just shows that we have some equally hardy runners!
Alnwick is less than 3 weeks away – it is a bit less hilly and a bit more scenic than Thornley, lets get the same turnout and do our best to repeat the performance of the weekend!
“Please can we go to Saltburn in February” is a phrase few will say whom are of sound and rational mind and there are many good reasons for that……however as a trail runner and lover of Hardmoors
it is a necessity to arrive bright and early on a Sunday morning, at that time of the year and in that very location.
The Half Marathon at Saltburn in 2017 was my first ‘trail’ run and was perhaps the hardest 15 mile I had ever ran. Yes, I had completed Marathons and events in the past, but nothing compared me for the climbs, mud, sleet, hail, rain, snow, wind with the occasional presence of sunshine over a 2-hour period.
Now we fast forward two years and after the mental and physical torture of 2017 we have added multiple Hardmoors experiences to the locker and now think its big and clever to double the distance
and take on the marathon series.
Training had gone well, a good result in the HM30 the month before and I felt confident going into the race with some good miles behind me. A recce in the snow the week before had given some knowledge of the elevation and terrain of the back half of the route and on checking the weather forecast no more snow was due; only winds provided by some storm called Eric.
The morning of the race was surprisingly calm, the wind had gone, no rain, no snow, no hail…was this Saltburn? The conditions near perfect weather wise as we parked up and registered for the event.
As usual, seamless teamwork from the Hardmoors family as we registered, smiley face for the kit check and we packed our bags in readiness for the race briefing and the call to go outside and toe the line. Walking out we passed Striders Simon Graham and Jill
Young, happily saluting us with coffee cups and wishing us good luck…..with the caveat that they are not as crazy as us and are happy to be taking part in the half marathon, due to start at 10am.
We walk outside on mass, traffic stopped, marshalls in place and Jon says we’re off; so we’re off…. down a main road (at least in force so some element of safety) until we hit the track into the
dene to drop to the coast. The leader seemingly intent to break away, hitting a fast paced first mile to the coast before the coastal trail path sections and the first flight of steps….slowing us all down as we walk the climb. The course taking the scenic
coastal path route, along the cliff tops into the bay and then back up for the climb to the top of Loftus before a fast paced tarmac section. A chance to open the legs after a firm but damp section along the trails. Seeing friends and fellow runners marshalling
and exchanging in general banter as we continue on our merry way.
In a true fashion the trails continued to undulate, generally following the bows of yellow tape placed in many part by our very own Dave Toth in the days before. Climbs followed drop, drops and climbs, stairs, steps and hills with few flat and fast sections in between before we start to reach mile 18-19 and the Tees Link up to High Cliff Nab. For those not familiar with this section of Guisborough woods I would encourage you all to have a trip out and take in the elevation and views at the summit, the climb can be challenging in the best of conditions and after the recent snow this climb was the hardest I have experienced in running these events. Unfortunately, the view from the top was one I couldn’t appreciate during the race but looks good on google.
This was the hardest and biggest climb of the race with a long run back through the woods and over to Quakers Causeway before heading down to Boosebeck and climbing to Skelton. The taping of the
route and support of the marshals was impeccable throughout the route with fully stocked refreshment points and supportive encouragement throughout. The views, freedom and lack of people and animals on the moors is one of peacefulness; no noise, traffic and
only the voice in your head to talk to as you cover the boggy moor landscape. Michelle likes to comment that listening to me have a conversation with myself is her idea of torture; I quite like it as I generally turn out to be right when I’m finished my discussion.
Reaching the other side of Boosebeck enables the Marathon race to join the end of the half marathon route and it was good to see runners again, to be able to say hello and not continually look for
yellow tape as I could follow the pack, to target people to try and reach and have a little competition with myself for the final couple of miles. Dropping down the steps I had expected to see Dave Toth at his marshalling point but apparently, he had popped
to the shop for refreshments so we continued on back into the dene and the final climb to the main road where the finish line and the leisure centre awaited.
Running into the hall, stopping the watch and desperate for a shower I was happy to end in a time of c3:48 minutes and take first place. Happy the race had gone to plan, pushing on when required and all in better conditions that we could imagined.
I would encourage anyone to take part, try a 10k(ish) if you’re not sure and I would be surprised if even a little bit of you didn’t enjoy the event and people involved.
I woke to perfect conditions for this fast race. A 6km jog brought me to the school and a packed but well organised event. I think it’s hit its capacity now. I checked my bib to see what my starting pen was. Dalmation. A dalmation’s quite fast I think. I hope I didn’t put anything too ambitious down for estimated finish time when I entered all those months ago.
I’d expected to be shivering on the start line but the sun was out and there was no wind and all was good. I heard some woofing and off we went. Previously I’ve found it a bit of a crush initially but there was a bit of space and I settled down resisting the temptation to go off too fast. I’d decided not to look at my Garmin until the first kilometre marker.
In a measured race like this I usually go on average pace. My PB for a 10K was 47 minutes from 2012 on the same course. Realistically I’d be happy with a sub-50. A confidence boost that my training was settling down and a useful benchmark.
At the first km I checked my watch. Average pace and actual pace. They were awfully high. I realised I was wearing my old watch and it was calibrated in old money. And I didn’t even have it set to show elapsed time. This was stupendously frustrating and I spent the first half of the race trying to convert 5 min/km in my head to min/mile pace. Not with any success
I felt like I was running ok and didn’t think I had much spare. At the half way point I edged up the pace with the view of running a good negative split. It’s a great spectator course and I’d already spotted Roberta as I’d flown past Elvis. What. A. Voice. And as we got to around 6km I saw her again as I passed under the pier.
I like a good bit of music on a road event and Southport must put the classiest act on that I’ve ever seen in an event. The Rock Choir. The race is worth it for this brief blast alone.
I pushed on and kept winding the pace up. It was a fast day and with 3 km to go I felt I was running it about as hard as I could. My concentration was not what it might be though as I had …
Till I see Marianne walk away I see my Marianne walkin’ away
… going round and round inside my head. Who sang that?! It took another kilometre before I finally clicked the connection. Boston. More than a Feeling. Sung like I’d never heard it before. Brilliant.
I ran a tight controlled hard race even if it was effectively blind and I was none too pleased to cross the line in 50:14. These 14 seconds stung. It would be easy to think that if I could have seen my pace I might have been able to nip under 50 minutes but I’m not so sure. Great conditions, hard race, good controlled negative split. I realised that I wasn’t really that bothered about the 14 seconds as I’d ran a controlled race. I jogged passed the queues for the buses to the park and ride. Why get the bus when a 6km jog back to base can be all part of the training.
I ran the first Mad Dog 10K 9 years ago and watched it grow to be one of the best races in the country. You have to be pretty quick to get in nowadays. I don’t know if a ballot system is an inevitable consequence of its success. What I really like about it though is the feeling of being part of a local grass-roots race organised by volunteers where so much of the income is donated to small local charities.