Monthly Archives: March 2019

Bilsdale Fell Race, Chop Gate, North York’s Moors, Sunday, March 17, 2019

AL / 23km / 1300m

Nigel Heppell

Striders variable dress code

First running of this FRA category AL race; a 23km/1300m (14.3 miles/4265ft) route taking in the climbs of the northern edge of the North Yorkshire Moors: hosted by Esk Valley Fell Club.

Apparently, this is the only AL (long, and lots of climbs) fell race to be held on the North Yorks Moors (NYM).

Now the NYM are generally regarded as not being particularly high, so how did Esk Valley FC fit in the necessary climb? Simple answer is climb to a peak, drop off the escarpment to the bottom; and repeat; 7 times in all – bit like a fiddler’s elbow, up and down, up and down, up and down…

120 runners turned up for this event on a bright but breezy spring day. Strict kit requirements to usual FRA standards rightly enforced by the organisers, but everything ranging from vest and shorts to full body cover seen out on the hills, especially once at altitude on the moors and exposed to the full force of the wind.

Heading towards CP2

A handful of Striders, Nina, Danny, Robin and Nigel (Jan and Fiona marshalling) attended along with a few faces from familiar running clubs, 3 NFR and a bucket-load of DFR (it’s on their championship race list); a lot of very young and fit types from Durham University AC; and representatives from Scarborough, York, Swaledale, Thirsk, Pudsey, NYM, Middlesborough, Wharfdale, Pickering, Loftus, Leeds, Vegan, Billingham, Darlington, Beverley, Keswick, Totley, Derwent, Driffield, Harrogate, Marske, Wootton, and a certain Mr Fishwick from Chorley.

The start is a sober affair, everyone conscious of the distance lying ahead and wanting to take it easy, on a steady uphill climb, the longest of the day, to summit Round Hill (highest point of NYM), but tempered by the knowledge that there is a 90min cut-off at the top of Cold Moor (3rd climb and living up to its name today) some 6miles away.

As this is a proper fell race there is no defined route and we are free to decide our own way between checkpoints. Some of the CP locations are obvious; summits of Round Hill/Cold Moor/Falconers Seat/ Cock Howe cairn; others are easily visible from above, Toft Hill Scout Hut/Busby stream crossing/Carlton Bank; but CP 8 tucked away out of sight down in Raisdale offers scope for individual route choice off the established tracks.

I elected to go cross-country at this point, taking DFR Denise through the heather with me, and leaving an NFR man to follow the main track. We hopped and jumped through the heather, scrambled down a gully, picked up a nice runnable surface alongside a boundary wall, plodged through a few boggy bits, and arrived at CP 8 from behind; about 10 paces after NFR guy coming in from opposite direction!

Bilsdale


I had more success with route choice earlier on, dropping down towards Clay Bank road crossing where I deviated off the Cleveland Way onto a smooth remnant of quarry track, happily overtaking at least 15 others slowly picking their way down the uneven steps and slabs. And again, taking the direct route down a steep overgrown gully onto Busby Moor put me in front of probably the same set of people who had steadily re-overtaken me since Clay Bank but who ran a zig-zag along the obvious track.

Scout Hall CP4, Roseberry Topping, and Denise Tunstall, DFR
Climb to Falconer’s Seat (Pork Pie Hill?)

My route choice into Scugdale was no good at all; from memory I thought a right fork in the trail would line me up nicely with the Hall (out of sight over the ridgeline) which it did – but I hadn’t factored in the fenced-off quarry/crags that it led to, so a bit of back-tracking had to be done and this is where Denise (who had chosen left fork) got away from me!

The climb out of Scugdale is the last one on the route but it goes on forever. Steep and only walkable at first, you think you are out on to the ridgeline at last but there is still a steady climb of over 100m or so to the last checkpoint at Cock Howe Cairn 2km further on. Run-walk, run-walk; trying to catch those ahead but we are all doing the same; DFR Denise is in sight but I can’t close the gap. Pretty much exhausted and with leaden legs, we are greeted at CP10 by Fiona cheerily hopping about and running up and down the cairn to keep warm; I’m envious of her energy!

At last the downhill run to the finish begins; normally a time to let go, take advantage of gravity and stride out. Not today, the legs just won’t have it; it’s too steep and so it’s a fight all the way. Some small consolation as I manage to pass a couple of equally weary runners on the way down and elect to take the twisty gully track because it feels easier. Slightly surprised as I emerge onto the lane to see I’ve been caught up by another runner taking the direct route down the field so final effort goes into 100m dash through the mud to hold them off, spurred on by Jan’s audible encouragement!
3hrs 40min and near enough 16 miles. Official results coming later.

Footnote:

Huge thanks to Esk Valley FC led by Mike Quinn for organising this and making it look so easy even though we know how much work goes on behind the scenes and how many contribute marshalling/tea making/cake baking without the chance to run. And with a nod in the direction of Dave Parry, once the main prizes have been distributed it’s a case of ‘well we’ve got some bottles left, so if you can think of a reason come forward and claim one’ – of course we’re all too polite to do that, so Danny wins one for entering the race before it is officially open (Nina too, but she already has her age category winnings) and evidently someone has travelled all the way from Texas to claim their bottle of beer!

Hardmoors 55(50), Guisborough,North Yorkshire, Saturday, March 16, 2019

55 miles

Simon Graham

Having run a few marathons in previous years, 2018 became the year of the Ultra. My other (better) half, Jill, decided that we should run Paris Marathon as a training run for the Dukeries 30 miler, which in turn was a warm-up for the St Cuthberts Way 45 miles.

Upon completing St Cuthberts I found myself looking for another challenge. Did I want to ‘just be’ a marathon runner in future? I decided that since I prefer the challenge of off-road to pounding the miles on tarmac racing, after a time, and having felt I had more to give after Cuthberts, that I’d go for it. The Hardmoors 55.

This year the 55 became the 50 to commemorate 50 years of the Cleveland Way (along which the race is run). The route was shortened (to 54 miles) and an extra trip over the summit of Roseberry Topping added for ‘fun’. To make things even more appealing the route this year ran from north to south meaning the big climbs would be in the first 30 miles. The second half is by no means flat.

I spoke with my friend, fellow Strider and Hardmoors 1000 club member Dave Toth about doing this with me and sticking together throughout, as I had no intention of plodding around the moors alone. Dave agreed, and I knew he would keep me right pace-wise. I have a history of going out far too fast and blowing up!

Roll forward months of training and miles and the day arrived.

At 6 am in Durham I opened the front door of the house to discover heavy snow falling from the skies. ‘Great’, I thought, just what we needed!

We arrived at Guisborough Sea Cadets at just after 7 am. It was a wet and miserable 4 degrees. Storm Hannah had decided she was going to make an appearance bringing with her 50 mph winds and driving rain. This was at a low level, what on earth was in store for us when we hit the tops of the moors I thought. We started the race in full waterproofs and were to need them all day.

A few minutes delay to the start meant that waterproofs were already coming in useful as we assembled outside of the Sea Cadets in Guisborough. At 8:20 (ish) we were off.

With Dave knowing how to pace these things, I was very careful of not getting swept away in the rush, jogging out of the Sea Cadets and up the hill towards the stile where we would go off-road. Over the stile and through the woods was a good place to start just gently running towards the first big climb of the race, the Tees Link, up to High Cliff Nab, where we would join the Cleveland Way. This was the first real challenge. The Tees Link was a bog fest and staying upright was the challenge. At least the woods provided some shelter from the rain.

And then the wind hit…

At High Cliff Nab, already wet and covered in mud we were greeted by Hannah and her 50mph winds. Undeterred we pressed on towards Roseberry Topping with rain coming at us sideways driven by the fierce winds. Climbing up Roseberry was tough, descending for the first time even tougher. The front runners were already flying down Roseberry for the second time as we went up for the first, the wind not seeming to affect them. These guys are machines I thought.

So, up to the summit of Roseberry Topping, down the other side to the marshals who then told us to simply turn back around and ascend Roseberry again before rejoining the Cleveland Way and heading off to Captain Cooks Monument.

At the summit of Roseberry, we were greeted by a familiar face. My better half Jill (who was acting as support crew for the day) had climbed up from the car park at the bottom to provide some much-needed cheer! I’m not sure who was crazier, me for entering this race, or her for going up there to see me for 20 seconds!

The section from towards Captain Cooks Monument and from there into the checkpoint at Kildale is mainly downhill (apart from the climb to the monument itself) which allowed some actual running to be done but by now after a tough start, I could feel my legs hating the constant force that running downhill puts on them.

Kildale to Clay Bank, from what I can remember of it, is mainly just a huge climb up to the top of the moors followed by a long slog across the exposed moorland. We attempted to run parts of this but the wind and horizontal rain were simply making it all seem rather pointless with little progress being made. It was here, somewhere near Bloworth Crossing, we were passed by someone wearing snow goggles. There had been lots of discussion on Facebook about snow goggles in the days before the race, but I hadn’t actually expected to see someone wearing them! Onwards we plodded, power walking and running, or at least attempting to, towards Clay Bank.

At Clay Bank Checkpoint there was Jill again with coffee and a much-needed food resupply.

Onwards we pressed over the ‘Three sisters’ (even though there’s four of them). Climb up, run a little over the top, descend and repeat three times before coming into Lord Stones Country Park.

At Lord Stones, or what I thought was about the halfway point (turned out to be only 22.5 miles), we met Jill and our friends David and Debbie who has driven down to provide some support. I think the support was as much for Jill, spending the day sat driving from place to place and waiting, as it was for us. A quick change of clothes into a fresh dry kit, a food resupply and again we were off, this time up the ‘fourth’ of the ‘Three Sisters’ Carlton Bank and towards the indoor checkpoint at 31 miles in Osmotherley where I knew there was freshly cooked pizza waiting. Well, there was for me anyway. Vegan Dave could have whatever he wanted, I just looked forward to warm pizza!

Leaving Osmotherley we walked to let the food settle in our stomachs, and since it was uphill to Square Corner it would have been silly to run. The rain seemed to have eased by this point and the wind had died down making the conditions much nicer, or at least it would have had it not simply soaked the ground through so much that what would have been solid, was now just pure mud. We did some ‘Ultra Shuffling’ on the downhill bits we found, but mostly it was power walking uphill to see Jill, David and Debbie again at Square Corner. From Square Corner is another big climb up Black Hambleton hill, fortunately, this is a long and steady climb which was actually somewhat of a relief to me following the previous big steep climbs.

Back on the tops of the moors it was head torch time, and although this section was pretty boring with no scenery (it was dark) it did allow quite a bit of running (shuffling) to be done towards High Paradise Farm and the descent into the disco (yes, they had a disco going on with lights and everything!) checkpoint at Sneck Yate. Straight through this checkpoint and onto Sutton Bank Visitor Centre where once again we met with our amazing support crew, took a few minutes to refuel and pressed on to White Horse.

The Hardmoors Run Director Jon doesn’t like to make things easy, and so rather than simply being allowed to head towards the finish at Helmsley from to top of Sutton Bank, he put in an out and back section to the car park at the bottom of the White Horse. Yes, you go from the top to the bottom and back again climbing loads of stairs along the way. It’s like Roseberry all over again. Once you’re back at the top of the White Horse stairs though you know you’re on the home straight with about 9 miles to go.

From the White Horse to Helmsley is almost all downhill, with no significant climbs left to do. Unfortunately, its also on a lot of grass and tracks which had been turned into what can simply be described as a mudfest by the preceding runners. Thanks for that fast lads (and lasses), as if I wasn’t slow enough I now have to slip and slide my way to the finish!

So, it’s muddy, it’s slippy, it’s dark, I have tired legs and Dave is a power walking machine up any hills. I said its mostly downhill, but not all. I chased him up pretty much every climb on the course.

We pressed on knowing that the end was in sight and that we should just make the cut off of 16 hours. Before we started, and in good condition, I had thoughts of being able to do this in around 14 hours. How wrong was I. The end was in sight though and leaving the mud and hills behind we descended into Helmsley where Jill, David and Debbie had walked to the top of the track at the end of the Cleveland way to meet us and see us to the finish.

Solid ground and tarmac was a delightful sight, but this was a Hardmoors event and it wouldn’t be complete without one last hill to the finish at Helmsley Sports Club. It’s really just a gentle incline that normally I wouldn’t think twice about running up, but this was mile 54 and there was no running up any inclines going on!

We had done it. Finishing in a time of 15 Hours 48 minutes. Dave for his 6th (I think) time, me for my first (and last!) time. Jill, being the amazing support that she was had even got our beers for the finish (She’s a keeper) and boy did they taste good.

What have I learnt, and what’s next?

Well, I have learnt that whilst I have the time to go for long runs on a Sunday morning, what I don’t have the time for is all of the other miles. The back to back long runs, the cross-training that is required for an event of this nature. Running 18 miles on Sunday is all well and good, but doing it again on a Monday after a full day at work, now that’s hard!

What’s next? I have the remainder of the Hardmoors 26.2 Half Marathon series to look forward to. The longest ‘Half’ Marathon is around 17 miles which are comfortable and doable on my planned training schedule of a couple of 10k’s, a parkrun and 10 miles/ hm’s on Sundays. During the long-run training, I’d forgotten just how much fun and enjoyable a 10k (or about an hours run) can actually be and I look forward to enjoying my runs again, not being permanently tired, and being able to get out of bed without aching again.

Oh, and I have also promised to return the favour for Dave Toth and accompany him on the St Cuthberts Way 45 miles. Guess those pain-free mornings are just going to have to wait.

Captain’s Roundup, Monday, March 11, 2019

Fiona Brannan

Striders on tour this weekend with success across the country!

At the ever popular Dentdale runs, 28 Striders turned out in force to represent the club with some fantastic performances through the field. The men’s team of Michael Littlewood, Matt Archer and Allan Renwick retained the Striders first place title for another year, while Katy Walton won her age category in the 14 mile race. In the 7 mile race, success in the form of one Mark Kearney (sounds familiar, has he won something before…?), storming home to win two minutes ahead of second place. Another win for Jan Young in her age category as well!

Further down south, Stephen Jackson continues his running success with another personal best at the London half marathon; coming home in 71 minutes and 60th overall, despite the high winds! Well done to Striders Karen, Lesley and Rachel who also travelled down; conditions could have been more pleasant but top running all round.

Tonight at 7, as many of you will know – entries for the Blaydon race open, therefore we are postponing the meeting time until 7:30

So, at 7:30 from the Houghall bus stop we have:

Alison will take the 11 min mile group, about 4 miles

Michael will lead a Jon Ayres special, suitable for those who run at 8-10 min miles but nobody left behind. Will include ‘hills, speed and fun’ I am told! Turn up to find out more…

Oh, and BUY YOUR AWARDS NIGHT TICKETS 💃🕺

Walt Disney World Marathon, Disney World, Florida, USA, Sunday, January 10, 2016

Anita Wright

Proving that it’s never too late for a race report.

Below is my account of the Walt Disney World Marathon, which I ran with my daughter, Lucy, in 2016. I’ve transcribed it word for word from my diary and have included some of my illustrations I’d drawn in it, at the time.

It was masses of fun, flat, you get to run through all the parks and their back-lots and then get to spend a week in Disneyland afterwards. What’s not to love and enjoy?

A GREAT BIG tick on the bucket list – can’t recommend it highly enough.

 

 


Thursday 7th – Travelling to London
Well…we’re off. 20 weeks of training and over 600 miles of running around Durham.
This is me. Currently worried about:
– getting a cold
– missing the flight
– flight being delayed
– flying
– not making the expo in time to get our bib
– being ill
– not waking up in time on Sunday
– needing the toilet during the race
– runners belly
– not finishing
– Lucy’s leg injury
– How I’ll meet Lucy at the end.

Met Lucy at Gatwick. Checked into the Sofitel and then did a practice run to the check-in desk for tomorrow.

 

Friday 8th – Travelling to Orlando
Stupid Sofitel!
Last night they told us that the phones and lift would be off from 09:00. What they actually omitted to tell us was that there was no flaming electricity in the whole hotel.
I got in the shower to wash my hair just as everything went black. I was left with wet hair and no way to dry or straighten it. This is how I arrived at check-in.


Cashed in all my Virgin miles and went Upper Class. What a treat.

 

 

Saturday 9th – Expo Day
NEVER SLEPT A SINGLE WINK – I’M SO NERVOUS
Up stupid early to get our race bib – the next thing on my list of things I’m obsessing about.
Got to the bus stop so early that the buses to ESPN, where the expo is, hadn’t started. Despite my reservations, there were no problems at the Expo.
Looked around the Expo. Purchased additional T-shirts. One can never have too many commemorative t-shirts.

 

Lucy lied, she said my official T-shirt was a perfect fit!
Went to Epcot to carb-load at Italy.
Bed by 7:00. Earplugs jammed in.

 

Sunday 10th – RACE DAY
Woke up at 01:30 am (no surprise). The travel kettle I bought with us for our porridge is rubbish. The change of electricity means it takes 20 mins to boil. Good job I put it on a practice boil last night. Filled it up, switched it on and reset the alarm for 02:00 am.
Breakfast:

Out of the room by 03:10. Tied up our hair in red and white polka-dot Minnie mouse ribbon.
Bus went directly from our resort to Epcot parking lot, where the race is due to start at 05:30. The timezone difference put us at a massive advantage but I think the people on the bus didn’t like us very much – they were sleeping and we never stopped yapping the entire journey – nerves and excitement.

Walked to the start through the parking lot and security.

So many people, so early in the morning. Had our photo taken and mulled around a while.

Real carnival atmosphere.
Lots of trips to the toilet. It’s SO incredibly humid. Sweating profusely. It was about a 10 to 15 min walk to the starting pens from the drop-off. Headed across at 04:00 am.

Yesterday at the Expo we signed up for ‘Live tracking’. The plan is that Michael lets everyone else know our progress through the race.

Lucy and I had a big kiss goodbye at 05:00 am before we split-up to go to our respective corrals. Both got very nervous. I cried when the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ was played.

The crowds were not as chirpy as at UK races. Not very cheery but I suppose the 02:00 am wake-up accounts for that.

We were set off by corral at 2:30 min intervals.
I wasn’t expecting that but EVERY corral got a firework display as they set off and a big send-off from Mickey, Dopey, Goofey and Donald.

Each mile of the race was marked by a massive illuminated billboard of a Disney character with the corresponding musical number. Got very emotional at the Beauty and the Beast one. They were playing ‘Be Our Guest’.

Masses of characters all along the race route. Lots of runners were stopping for photos but I ploughed on. The temperature when we set off was 18 degrees but the humidity was totally unbearable.

The 1st mile went by very quickly. I was so worried about setting off too quickly that I ended up doing the first 5 miles stupidly slowly but to be honest, the humidity was so bad at that point, I didn’t think I was going to be able to finish. I was streaming sweat and my heart rate was up at 185bpm.

It started to settle down by the time I approached the Magic Kingdom. As we approached the tunnel to the MK there was a man with massive hands on top the bridge, shouting words of encouragement.

As we approached the MK, the route followed alongside the monorail. As a train passed, it tooted its horn. Runners were literally jumping out of their skin with surprise.

Ran through the MK car park entrance booths, across the MK car park and into the MAGIC KINGDOM and then down Main St. It was utterly amazing. The crowds were huge.

It was still dark and very early but hundreds of people were crammed in, cheering and waving their posters of support.
This was my first view of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle since we arrived. It was all still lit up with its sparkly Christmas lights.

Despite having resolved that I wasn’t going to stop, I ended up taking a selfie.

The route passed through Tomorrowland, then by the Seven Dwarfs’ Mine train and back through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle where all the characters from Frozen were waving from the balcony. They even had snow falling from the balcony onto the runners. Wonderful. Headed past Big Thunder Mountain before leaving the park via the back lot. Lots of runners were stopping for pics. Saw the new mechanical dragon, which is part of the parade, all parked up in the back lot.

We then had a boring 6 miles of road, in the dark as we headed to the Animal Kingdom. Lots of characters along the way though; Corpse Bride, Mary Poppins, Mickey, Donald, Goofy and many more.

The sun started to come up and it was light by the time we reached the Animal Kingdom. As we approached they had petting animals by the road. I was disappointed that they didn’t have their proper animals out. They must have been asleep. Patted a Shetland pony, a donkey, a pig, a giant tortoise and a goat.

Ran past the Everest ride which was very funny. It was strange thinking that it was only a year ago since we were trekking the trail to the real Everest. I probably would never have trained for this had we not been there. Ran past the AK’s new Dinoland. Went by quite quickly.

Very disappointed to get overtaken by the 4:30 pacer – I should be doing better than this. Coming out of AK we reached the halfway point. People were perking up considerably at the sight of the sign – no idea why. We’ve still got the same to run again.

Another 5 miles of roads which went by quite quickly. The cambers on the turns in the intersections were mental. Almost running at a 45 deg angle. Very tough on the ankles, knees and legs

(Forgot to mention that en-route there had been numerous uniformed, marching high school bands and cheerleaders. That also made me emotional. Between sweating and crying, I was like a prune)

(NOTE: The banana advice I got from a fellow runner last night was spot on. At 11 miles, my stomach started to cramp and I thought I was going to be in trouble. Just as it happened a banana stop came into view. It was very difficult to eat and run. I looked like a chipmunk with it stored in my cheeks. It killed the cramps almost immediately. It’s obviously potassium that’s doing the trick. Had another one at 17 miles)

At 16.5 miles did a sharp left into ESPN. At this point, there were runners who were ahead of us on the other side of the highway. They were at 21 miles. That was a bit tough to handle.

Entered the gates of ESPN at 17 miles; left 3 miles later having run around EVERY conceivable sports groud known to man. Who knew the Americans played that many sports. Each time you left a sports ground, thinking it was your last, then you entered another one. What a nightmare.

Finally got to the baseball stadium, which I knew was the last one. Mickey Mouse was there and lots more cheering supporters.

At 21 miles we arrived at the only hill on the course (A bank to an intersection- hahaha). The much anticipated Toy Story Green Soldiers did not disappoint. They were barking orders to run faster, dig-in, etc at all the runners. I gritted my teeth and speeded up.

Another 2 miles to Hollywood Studios. At this point, I was doing lots of motivational talking in my head. 22.5 miles was the longest I’d ever run in my training. I had to keep saying to myself that it was only a  parkun.

Into Hollywood Studios past the Tower of Terror. Runners were stopping for rides – not me. You could hear people screaming as you ran on through the park.

Onward through Washington Sq gardens and the set of the New York streets with the false perspective. Ran through the Big Movie ride in the dark. Exited via Hollywood Bvd. We then ran around the lake and the Boardwalk.

Entered Epcot just in front of the UK part of the Round the World and then ran around all the countries of the world at Epcot Showcase. I was really biting back the emotional blubbering.
More head ‘talking-to’.

It was amazing when Spaceship Earth came into view. My last mile was bizarrely my quickest.

 

Finished 4 hrs 45 – blubbed my eyes out.

         

Rang Michael straight away. He told me that Lucy was doing really well so I decided to wait for her rather than go to the hotel as planned.

Got more photo’s together and Lucy posted on Facebook. More donations for our Just Giving page for the Alzheimer’s Society (we made over £3500 at the final count). Back to the hotel.

Both had ice baths which were a life saver. The only problem was that as soon as I got in the bath I discovered that I’d got blisters on my bum; Lucy was similarly scarred.


Once clean and tidy and Savlon-ed up, we headed back to Epcot in our T-shirts and medals to get more photos. It was brilliant. Everyone was congratulating us. Rode the all rides at Epcot. Mexico for dinner.

Back to the hotel and bed at 9:30

WHAT IN UTTERLY AMAZING DAY. EXCEEDED ALL EXPECTATIONS.

Captain’s Roundup, Monday, March 4, 2019

Fiona Brannan

Morning all,

photo credit: Phil Ray

If you missed it, the final cross country fixture of the season was at Alnwick Castle on Saturday, with a strong end to the season for all involved.  Stephen Jackson weaved his way through the 550 strong field from the fast pack to finish a cracking 11th overall. Stuart Ord finished strongly to gain promotion to the fast pack for next season, closely followed by Rory, Michael L, Allan Renwick and Georgie making up the men’s team.  In the ladies race, the counters were myself, Susan Leight (continuing her strong start to cross country and gaining promotion to the medium pack), Zanna Clay and Laura Jennings.  Special mentions to Alison Smith, who took nearly 3 minutes off her time for Alnwick last year and to Susan Davis, who it was lovely to see back on the start line at the Harrier League!

Down at Dalton Park on Sunday, Chris Callan also had a flying return from injury to finish an impressive 2nd place at the Dalton Park 5K, good work! 

(Details of tonight’s runs have been circulated by e-mail and are on the Striders Facebook group.)

The light nights are almost upon us, only a few more weeks of dark running!

Harrier League, Alnwick, Saturday, March 2, 2019

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. Mud King/Mud Queen Race - click flag for more information.

photo credit: Zanna Clay
ladies
PosbibNameRace TimePackCatActual Time
1285Gina Howorth (Elswick Harriers)29:55SFV3529:55
21336Fiona Brannan33:14FFsen28:14
231276Susan Leight33:17SFV4533:17
63393Zanna Clay34:36SFsen34:36
72364Laura Jennings34:43SFsen34:43
100333Elaine Bisson35:08FFV4030:08
102360Katy Walton35:09MFV3532:29
150384Stef Barlow35:46SFV4535:46
1581132Corrine Whaling35:52MFV3533:12
162338Fiona Shenton35:55SFV5535:55
192374Rachael Bullock36:25MFsen33:45
198376Rachelle Mason36:34MFV4033:54
232378Roz Layton37:12SFV6537:12
247387Susan Davis37:25MFV5534:45
252370Natalie Bell37:27MFsen34:47
257383Sarah Fawcett37:33SFV5537:33
260346Jan Young37:38SFV6537:38
262391Victoria Jackson37:39SFV3537:39
311322Ashley Price-Sabate39:00SFV5039:00
343380Sam Askey40:36SFV4040:36
359394Zoe DewdneyElvet Striders 41:12SFV35 41:12
378345Jan Ellis42:36SFV5542:36
396316Alison Smith44:17SFV4044:17
photo credit: James Lee
men
PosbibNameRace TimePackCatActual Time
1208Joseph Woods (Blyth RC)36:31SMsen36:31
11504Stephen Jackson40:23FMV3535:23
47506Stuart Ord42:03MMsen39:33
66498Rory Whaling42:25SMV4542:25
92476Michael Littlewood42:54MMV4040:24
147429Allan Renwick43:44SMV4543:44
171452Georgie Hebdon44:14FMsen39:14
186507Stuart Scott44:26MMV3541:56
191453Graeme Watt44:31FMV4039:31
2381597James Lee45:12MMV4042:42
303436Conrad White46:34SMV6046:34
308451Geoff Davis46:47SMV6046:47
312442David Gibson46:56SMV5046:56
3261733Robin Parsons47:25SMV3547:25
328425Aaron Gourley47:26SMV4047:26
373479Mike Bennett49:06SMV6049:06
386493Richard Hockin49:27SMV6549:27
394469Mark Payne49:50SMV3549:50
406501Simon Dobson50:25SMV4550:25
409473Matthew Carr50:32SMV4050:32
420459Jonathan Hamill50:50SMV4050:50
481463Lindsay Rodgers54:14SMV5054:14
485509Tim Matthews54:24SMV5554:24
491460Jordi Sabate Villaret54:45SMV5054:45
495511Trevor Chaytor55:05SMV5555:05
499435Chris Shearsmith55:37SMV4055:37
5281675Adam Bent61:15SMV6061:15
534503Stephen Ellis62:49SMV6562:49

Last One Standing, Castleward, Northern Ireland, Saturday, February 16, 2019

Stuart Scott

During the Summer of 2018 I entered GB24, an event where you had to run as many 5.7 mile loops as possible, in 24 hours, I absolutely hated it and vowed never to enter a looped event ever again. Fast forward 7 months and there I am stood on the start line of Last One Standing Castleward a looped event with no pre-determined end.

The format of the race is simple every hour, on the hour, you set off to complete a loop of 4.1666 miles (meaning every 24 hours 100 miles is covered) once you have completed a loop you have to be ready to start the next on the stroke of the following hour. If you fail to complete a loop within one hour you are timed out, if you are not in the start area at the stroke of the next hour you are also timed out. The race continues indefinitely until only one remains, they are crowned the champion and everyone else is officially classed as DNF.

So why would I ever enter such an event when I hated GB24 so much? The reason behind this is I love pushing myself to the limit, big adventures and races that are a little different. One of the most famous extreme ultra marathons in the world called The Barkley Marathons is hosted by a guy called Lazarus Lake, this legend also puts on a race called Big Dogs Back Yard Ultra, Laz stated he would grant automatic entry to his race is you won Last One standing, I just couldn’t resist giving it a shot. Big Dogs Backyard Ultra attracts some of the best ultra runners in the world and I would be joining them out in Tennessee in October if I could pull it off, there were a number of events worldwide that could get you into ‘Bigs’ and the first two golden ticket winners did it in 104 and 129 miles.

At 12 noon on 16th February me, my good wife Susan and 127 others stood on the start line with no idea of how long we were going to be running for. Susan had only decided to enter 4 days previously and the plan was she would stay with me for as long as possible then help support me for as long as it went on for, we were hoping she would complete about 6 laps as she hadn’t run over 10 miles in ages and her distance PB was 26.2 miles.

At the stroke of 12 the race got underway and it just felt really weird as everyone was trying to go as slow as possible, everyone was stressing they were going too fast and people made comments about how stupid some were tearing off at something crazy like a 10 minute mile pace. There was a great atmosphere from the off and everyone was really excited about the prospect of going as far as they possibly could.

As there was 129 of us on relatively small forest trails everyone just snaked along, it felt as if we were part of a big club social run or something. Everyone was just chatting away, enjoying the scenery and getting to know each other it was really very pleasant. The first lap finished and this is when the stress began, we only had 10 minutes to eat, drink, queue then go to the toilet then get ready to start the next lap, it was amazing how fast those few precious minutes went.

The same pattern continued for the next five laps, easy going out on the trail and then a massive stress to get ready for the start of the next lap, completing a 4.1 mile loop in one hour is very doable for most club members however if you need the toilet on your break it can take up a few minutes and you constantly have this little voice telling you if you don’t fuel up properly its game over.

By lap 6 the head torches came out and Susan still felt great, this was a massive bonus for me, we just continued on around as if we were on a Sunday afternoon run out. The laps quickly passed by and as there hadn’t been too many early fallers Susan was determind to keep on going, we hit 10 laps and this is when she decided she had another 2 left in her, if she hit 12 laps that would be 50 miles and a new distance PB for her of 23.8 miles. Susan absolutely smashed it and we were both so happy she’d achieved such a massive distance PB.

Starting lap 13 felt strange, I was now out on my own, there was still a real social feel to the run as everyone is together at the start of each lap and most people are concentrating on going slower rather than faster, you chat a lot along the way. I found myself constantly trying to work out who my real competition were, I would strike up conversation with the people that looked like they were really good runners along with those wearing t shirts for seriously hard races that I intend to complete myself one day.

The laps steadily past by and I continued to feel great, I knew the race would go on a long time so had always just tried to think of the first 24 hours as the warm up, this probably sounds pretty crazy as 24 hours means 100 miles but so much is needed mentally to keep you in a race like this and I had to get my ‘warm up’ right.

By 6 am I was really ready for the night to come to an end as the morning meant I was within reach of my ‘starting point’. At about 6.30am I caught up with another runner who’s head torch had died, as I had a spare I lent him mine, he was very grateful, however unfortunately for me my battery failed 10 minutes after this meaning I was now in the dark without my spare! After 5 minutes of running in the dark, hoping the sun was going to rise any minute, another runner came to my rescue and I borrowed his spare to help complete the lap.

The first 7 minutes of my next break were going great when suddenly I got really bad stomach cramps, in any normal situation I would have headed straight for the toilet however the problem I had was the next loop started in 3 minutes and I simply didn’t have time, I carefully made my way to the start wondering how on earth I was going to get out of this predicament when all of a sudden I felt fine again panic over and off we went.

More time and loops passed by and before I knew it I was coming to the end of loop 24, the 100 mile mark and the long anticipated end of my ‘warm up’. We were told there was going to be a photo to the celebrate the 100 mile club so I spent the last 2 mins of my precious 10 desperately seeking out my striders vest for the photo, I think I made it to the start area with about 15 seconds to spare.

By the end of lap 26 I was on a total runners high, I was buzzing and asking Susan to dig out the head torches again as everything would need to be fully charged as I was definitely going for another night. I don’t think Susan was fully sharing my enthusiasm at this point, she had completed a massive distance PB herself only hours earlier and had, had virtually no sleep as every hour I would come storming into the tent waking her up asking where was this, that and the other, looking back now I don’t know how I didn’t get punched, think I’ve definitely got a good one there!

By the end of lap 27 things were starting to change and I could feel the dreaded death spiral looming. My lap times had all been pretty consistent but when you can hear the call for the next loop to start in 15 minutes and you are still about 10 minutes from the end of a loop it really starts to mess with your head. You are tired, you need a rest, the toilet, to eat, to drink to plan what your next move is but you also know you only have 5 minutes to do this before it all starts again. I finished my lap sat down for a drink trying to think straight then the call came that we had only two minutes to get to the start for the next loop, I could have cried!

My three children had recently arrived with my sister in law and although it was fantastic to see them it didn’t half cause me to have a roller coaster of emotions, when I first saw them I was so happy but then my kids wouldn’t come near me cause I was too smelly!

I started loop 28 trying to put on a brave face for the kids but I was now in serious trouble, I did the first 300 meters or so then my eldest two Oscar 6 and Katie 4 came running across the grass to meet me at the first turn I was way behind the other runners now and am not ashamed to admit I burst into tears when I saw them cheering me on Oscar’s face dropped asking what was the matter I told him I was trying my best and he should always do the same, he told me he would.

I was in a right state, I’d brought my phone on this lap I was listening to my favourite fearless motivation album, I started messaging a people I’ve spent a lot of time training with as well as looking through all the messages of support on the Striders Facebook page desperately seeking for motivation to pull myself out of this hole, I am very grateful to everybody who helped pick me up at this point. I ate a load of sweets, drank a lot of sugary stuff and continued on. My first two miles of this lap must have been really slow but I managed to pull it around somehow and caught a good few of the other runners up, much to their surprise, and finished the lap.

I pretty much knew I wasn’t going to make lap 29, within the hour, however I was never going to give up from the start line so my only option was to set off and hope I didn’t make it back in less than an hour as that would mean I would have to go again, it really screws with your mind!

After the first few hundred meters it was pretty obvious I didn’t have a chance in completing another loop within the hour so I just walked and stumbled round very slowly. I saw Susan her dad and the kids about a mile into this loop and told them it was game over, I think they were all relieved. I stumbled on to the second mile marker and hoped I could just cut back from there taking the final two miles off the course, I was informed this wasn’t allowed so if I did this I would lose the two miles I had done, I wasn’t going to lose these off what was already a massive distance Pb for me so I stumbled on like an 80 year old drunk.

As I stumbled on I came across a border collie that seemed to be with a man on a bike, the dog kept following me and I’ve got to say I quite enjoyed his company, five minutes later the guy on the bike returned to ask if it was my dog as someone had lost one. I told him it wasn’t mine but I took it by the collar and said I would keep walking the race route with it so to let the owner know if he saw her again. I found a piece of rope to make a lead and continued on with my new buddy kind of hoping the owner wouldn’t find me before the end so I could walk in with it for a cool finish photo. The grateful owner caught up with me 200 meters before the end and I was robbed of my ‘Big Dog’ finish

I think I completed lap 29 in about 1h30 and fell into Susan’s arms on the finish line, I was done but am proud to say I gave it everything I had. I waited to shake the hands of the remaining runners and was driven away completely in ore of the 8 remaining runners heading out onto lap 31 with no end in sight and much talk of a 200 mile plus race!

I ended up being 9th last one standing with just over 120 miles whilst the winner Peter Cromie went on to complete 41 laps and over 170 miles!!

Overall both Susan and I absolutely loved this event and we will definitely be heading back next year. It would be fantastic to see some other Striders over there and to have a team tent where we could inspire and motivate each other on to meet our own personal goals so if you fancy a bit of a Striders on tour event please get in touch if any of the following appeal to you:

  • You will most likely set a new distance PB
  • You have the opportunity to push yourself to your absolute limits both mentally and physically
  • You will be surrounded by like minded people in a very social setting
  • You will be massively inspired by being surrounded by so many people achieving huge personal goals
  • Speed means nothing, pacing and endurance is everything
  • You could get a few days in beautiful Northern Ireland out of it
  • If you bring your partner you can enjoy hours of quality time together even if you normally run at completely different paces