On Sunday morning while thousands of runners should have been doing the 40th London Marathon, coronavirus had other ideas and as a result, people across the country were being encouraged to do the 2.6 challenge instead. Since all my scheduled races (Keswick Half Marathon, Pier to Pier, Bridges of Tyne) as well as my beloved parkrun had been cancelled, I have eased off on my running. My daughters wanted to do the NHS C25K so we have been doing that for the past 4 weeks – it is the only time they have left our home. In addition my friend Jill nominated me for the 5k Run for Heroes, which I completed and I am part of Louise Collins’ whatsapp ‘Louise’s Lace-up Lassies’ group and I’ve been doing the weekly challenges which each have taken up to about a half hour. In line with current government guidance, I consider all of this as being part of my daily exercise allowance.
For Sunday’s challenge I thought I would run 2.6 miles from my home on a road route I hadn’t completed before. If I was feeling ok and enjoying it, I thought I might extend it to a 9/10k circular route. I informed my husband of my plan and explained that I would be back home within the hour.
Within 200m of my home I waved to two runners from Crook and Evenwood Road Runners and later passed two runners with Shildon and Aycliffe vests. I wondered if they were doing the same challenge?
It was a very pleasant April morning and with the 2.6 miles completed I was feeling ok and decided to continue. Once the steep hills were completed it was either downhill or flat for the last 4k. I might have even been on for a negative splits run! However this is when things went badly wrong. At a roundabout, I ran over one carriageway and on the traffic island managed to get my feet tangled on a wire ring and landed head first into the other carriageway. As I was running downhill at speed, my face and head took the full impact of the fall. It all happened so quickly, the next thing I knew was that a lady was helping me off the road and a car was inches away from me. Three motorists had stopped and the lady also provided me with a packet of wipes for the blood. Other motorists also stopped and expressed concern. I think people thought I had been knocked down. A cyclist stopped and offered me her water. People were incredibly kind, particularly given the issues with Covid 19 and social distancing. One man rang my husband and then waited with me until he arrived to take me to hospital. After a thorough examination by a wonderful member of the NHS, I was sent home with painkillers, etc. and a list of the signs of concussion to watch out for.
What this whole episode has made me realise is that the outcome of my Sunday morning run could have been very different for me and my family. As stated earlier, my husband roughly knows where I am going when I go for a run but I only ever have a basic garmin watch with me, I don’t run with a phone. I had no identification on my person. When I do parkrun I have my barcode and I have the necessary information on the underside of my race number at races but I carry no identification when I do a solo run. In reality, carrying identification or an emergency phone number when solo running is probably more important than at organised events. If I’d been unconscious and hospitalised, no-one would have known who I was.
During this Covid episode, unless with the people we live with, we are all having to run on our own. Therefore, when I recover and am able to run again, I will be carrying my I.C.E (In Case of Emergency) with me, either in a pocket or pinned to my shirt. I would strongly recommend that you do the same.
Like many others, I was due to run the London Marathon, for Crimestoppers – the independent charity that gives people the power to speak up and stop crime – 100% anonymously (and one of our chosen club charities this year). I devised an alternative – a 26 bridge challenge as part of the national #TwoPointSixChallenge campaign.
I’d initially come up with the idea of doing a ‘home run’ – a garden-based lockdown run and ran 5k around my garden with my Wife on 12th April (many, many laps!). I encouraged others to do their own ‘home run’.
The reason behind this was to raise awareness for Domestic Abuse, in support of a Crimestoppers campaign in the North East and to raise awareness of what Crimestoppers do to make our communities safer.
As an independent charity who has helped millions of people over the years, Crimestoppers asks those with concerns or information about a crime to pass on what they know whilst staying 100% anonymous. Always.
To give information anonymously:
Crimestoppers never asks for your personal information and does not track your device. Call 0800 555 111 or use the anonymous online form.
When I considered my options as an alternative to the London Marathon, I decided to expand my ‘home run’ to a 26 bridge challenge and encourage others to join me in their own #TwoPointSixChallenge. I’m so grateful for any participation, support and donations: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/thehomerun
I framed the challenge, aiming to run 26 local bridges, with some rules:
1 – Maximum Distance Half Marathon (I think we have to run sensible distances these days)
2 – Stay Local (DH1)
3 – No written routes or prompts allowed
4 – A bridge only counts once
5 – An ‘under’ can only be used once as a ‘joker’.
I set off and hit the first three bridges at the Low Newton Junction Nature Reserve, crossing the East Coast Main Line to cross back over it again dropping through Hopper’s Wood into Durham where I followed a loop of the city, with many twists and turns, the farthest point being near to Shincliffe.
Meeting Andrew Davies (who was taking part in another club challenge) en route was a welcome boost! I’ve included a photo subject to social distancing guidance.
Rather than subject you to a list of many bridges, I captured them as photographic evidence, with location data appended using what3words, who provide a really simple way to talk about location.
I’m pleased to report I completed the challenge without having to use my ‘joker’ (the first bridge, metres from home).
My warm-down was 26 laps of my garden which is what I’m encouraging others to do.
When this is all over, please let me know if you want to join me in a Bridges of Durham run!
Around AD 990, when the monks bearing St Cuthbert’s coffin came to the area where Durham now stands, they rested on the hilltop of Warden Law, but when they attempted to resume their journey they mysteriously found themselves unable to move another step. For 3 days they were immobilised, until the image of Cuthbert appeared in a vision to one of the monks. The saintly vision instructed the monk to carry his coffin to ‘Dun Holm’.
The monks had no idea where or what this instruction signified until a day later a milkmaid appeared, searching for her ‘dun cow’, which an old woman informed her had last been seen at a place called Dun Holm. Dun in this case refers to a dull greyish-brown colour. The monks followed the milkmaid towards the nearby hilltop of Dunholm, or Durham, where they established the saint’s final resting place on the cliffs overlooking the River Wear.
Constructed between 1093 and 1133. It was founded as a monastic cathedral built to house the shrine of St Cuthbert, replacing an earlier church constructed in his honour.
A tragedy occurred in 1137 when a tightrope walker was employed by the Prior of Durham to entertain the monks. The man attempted to walk along a rope stretched between the Central Tower and one of the Western Towers, but he slipped and fell to his death. SPLAT!
Following the bombing of Historic German cities the Nazis launched their own offensive.
The raids were referred to on both sides as “Baedeker raids” derived from a comment by a German propagandist. Gustav Braun von Stumm a spokesman for the German Foreign Office, who was reported to have said on 24 April 1942, “We shall go out and bomb every building in Britain marked with three stars in the Baedeker Guide”, Stumm’s off-the-cuff remark “effectively admitted the Germans were targeting cultural and historic targets, just what the German leadership did not want to do, and Goebbels took steps to make sure it did not happen again”
On the night of 30th April 1942, a force of some 38 German bombers passed over the North East coast and carried out raids on Newcastle, Sunderland, South Shields and Jarrow. A number of bombs were dropped in the vicinity of Durham, which was much less heavily defended than the industrial towns and cities of the region. Four fell near Carville, on the outskirts of the city, others at Beamish village, and two bombs fell at Finchale Priory, which perhaps had been mistaken for the Cathedral.
Many believed that the Luftwaffe had been aiming for Durham that night, but for some reason had missed their target. However, it was a bright moonlit night, and the Cathedral is hard to miss – it towers above the peninsula in the River Wear and is visible from miles around. Some local residents, including the chief Air Raid Warden George Greenwell, had recounted that a mist had suddenly and miraculously descended upon the city, rendering the target all but invisible to the marauding German aircraft. Many local people attributed the fog to divine intervention, perhaps on the part of the Cathedral’s resident saint, Cuthbert, and it became known as “St Cuthbert’s Mist” This is now represented in a stain glass window in the west end of the Cathedral.
On the 27th June,1942, south of Mersa Matruh North Africa, Private Wakenshaw was a member of the crew of a 2-pounder anti-tank gun. An enemy tracked vehicle towing a light gun came within short range. The gun crew opened fire and succeeded in immobilising the enemy vehicle. Another Nazi mobile gun came into action, killed or seriously wounded the crew manning the 2-pounder, including Private Wakenshaw, and silenced the 2-pounder. Under intense fire, Private Wakenshaw crawled back to his gun. Although his left arm was blown off, he loaded the gun with one arm and fired five more rounds, setting the tractor on fire and damaging the light gun. A direct hit on the ammunition finally killed him and destroyed the gun. This act of conspicuous gallantry prevented the enemy from using their light gun on the infantry Company which was only 200 yards away. It was through the self sacrifice and courageous devotion to duty of this infantry anti-tank gunner that the Company was enabled to withdraw and in safety. The original gun is currently in storage by Durham county council after the closure of the DLI Museum.
Michael Heaviside was born in Station Lane, Gilesgate, in October 1880. The Heavisides were a long-standing Durham City family, and Michael was the grandson of Thomas Heaviside, who owned a pioneering photographic business in the city. Whilst still a boy, Michael moved with his family from Durham to Kimblesworth, where his father worked in the colliery as head keeker [inspector] and Michael went to the local Council school. Later, the family moved to Sacriston.
On the evening of 5 May 1917, the battalion returned to their barricades on the Hindenburg Line, near Fontaine-les-Croisilles, France. Only one hundred yards separated the British and German positions but the terrible fighting of the preceding days had died down. Snipers and machine gunners were, however, still active and any movement attracted deadly fire. Then about 2 o’clock the next afternoon, 6 May 1917, a sentry noticed movement in a shell hole about forty yards from the German barricade. A wounded British soldier was desperately waving an empty water bottle. Any attempt to help this soldier in daylight would result in almost certain death for the rescuers. Michael Heaviside, however, said that he was going to try. Grabbing water and a first aid bag, the stretcher bearer scrambled over the barricade and out into no-man’s-land. Immediately, he came under heavy rifle and machine gun fire from the German positions and was forced to throw himself to the ground. He then began to crawl sixty yards across the broken ground from shell hole to shell hole to where the wounded soldier was sheltering. One eye witness later wrote –
“We could see bullets striking the ground right around the spot over which Heaviside was crawling. Every minute we expected to be his last but the brave chap went on.” As he crawled closer to the German lines, the firing increased. –
“The enemy seemed to be more determined to hit him, for the bullets were spluttering about more viciously than ever.”
When Private Heaviside reached the soldier, he found the man nearly demented with thirst for he had been lying badly wounded in the shell hole for four days and three nights, without any food or water. Michael Heaviside gave the soldier water, dressed his wounds and then promised that he would return with help. That night, Michael Heaviside led two other stretcher bearers out across no-man’s-land to the wounded soldier and carried him back to safety. Without doubt, he had saved this man’s life. The London Gazette announced the award of the Victoria Cross to Private Michael Heaviside on 8 June 1917 for his “most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty.” He was the third soldier of The Durham Light Infantry to gain this award during the First World War.
Today, I should have been running my 3rd marathon and on the anniversary of the 1st. With the onset of Covid-19, ‘Lockdown’ and the postponement of Manchester and other spring marathons until the autumn, I must admit, I put my training to one side. I may have done a little happy dance when the email from organisers came through on the Friday before I was supposed to do my last long run.
Although I knew I wouldn’t be running a marathon today, I had already decided that if we were allowed, I would be running something today. On Thursday, to tire out my boys, we went for a family 5k. My 10-year-old then added another 2.5k to his. He has previously run 10k with me in November at the Saturn Remembrance Run, and he said he wanted to do so again.
So, this morning in the glorious sunshine, we laced up our trainers and headed out along the lines towards Willington to run a ¼ of a marathon. I know it isn’t much of a difference between 10k and 10.25k but it made it a little bit more special. It wasn’t fast, and it wasn’t the most enjoyable run I have ever done, but we did it together (and Henry knocked 4 minutes off his 10k PB). As Covid-19 makes us all reassess what is important, finding little moments of happiness are important. It may not have been a marathon, but it was a ¼ of one. Manchester will happen, but for now, stay safe everyone.
I had been following Allan’s marathon training plan – albeit now without a marathon to train for. I have found it hugely helpful to continue to follow the plan, as it’s given me a sense of purpose and consistency in a world which at the minute is unpredictable and forever changing. The plan on the other hand is a constant in a sea of change. It tells me what to do, and I do it. It also keeps me feeling connected to Allan, and to Anna whom I had been training with for London.
Usually the plan is fairly straightforward – it gives me a number of miles to run, and Allan’s advice was to run the majority of these “by feel”. This is what I have been doing, although I am very aware that how I feel is now a lot slower than I would have been had I still been training for a marathon which was going to happen. That’s partly because of everything happening in the world, and the mental and physical exhaustion that I feel as a result. It’s also purposeful – as an NHS doctor I am a key worker, and I feel strongly the responsibility to do all I can to stay well and at work. This means not putting my body under undue stress and pressure. Too many long or hard runs may reduce immunity, and a long hard run is definitely off the cards at present.
So today’s run was a conundrum. The “special run” is one of the stalwarts of the plan. It’s a marathon pace driven 15 mile run, with some intervals thrown in just for good measure! The original plan which Anna and I had created was slightly bonkers – we’ve learned that having some bonkers plans in amongst the serious stuff keeps our running fun! We’d planned to take Friday 3rd April off work, stay over in Roker on the Thursday night, go for a nice carb loading Italian with a mutual friend, then run along the coast together following the Special Run pace plan on Friday morning, enabling me to get back to Durham in time to catch the train to Manchester to watch Rory, Nik, Karen and numerous other Striders run the Manchester Marathon on the Sunday. Given the fuss I was making about London I had also planned an indulgent weekend away with Rory, who had missed out on a Good for Age place in London by 19 seconds when they adjusted the time goals.
Clearly now none of these previous plans were going to happen, so I needed a creative solution to the “special run”, and so began the forming of a plan…… I decided I was going to run 15 miles starting at home and following a route that would be special to me. This was to run routes which reminded me of happy times – and for me this meant Striders training sessions.
I loved this run! Whilst I had to run it alone, and at stupid o’clock in the morning to make sure I was assured of observing social distancing on such a long route, running these familiar routes meant that I was accompanied by memories of friends throughout.
I ran from home along the A167 towards County Hall. This initial stretch of the A167 was part of a 7mm 10 mile route which Anna and I had offered to lead on a Wednesday Striders night– we had no other takers! It was a lovely run though just the two of us, reminiscent of our Brampton to Carlisle run in distance and pace but had felt more comfortable than B2C– a sure sign that our training was going well.
I then arrived at County Hall and did some reps of the car park with a couple of efforts up the hill (clearly I can’t stop myself from doing some pace work – the competitive Type A personality is strong!). I had Stephen in my mind, telling me to maintain my form, Jan encouraging me up the hills, I was remembering Peter pipping me to the finish on the final hill rep, and chasing Michael and Graeme up the hills (not winning that one!). I was remembering friendly hugs from Juan, and drinks and chat with Wendy and Chris afterwards.
From there I made my way down to the riverbanks, and ran the final stretch of Parkrun – again unable to resist putting in an effort and pretending it was a sprint finish! I was reminiscing on a number of previous fast finishes there, personally when pacing 25 min with Kathryn and Malcolm finishing just close by. Lovely chats with Karen and Lesley afterwards, and hearing about David and Juan battling out the finishes.
Next up was a cut through the woods towards Maiden Castle, and a run along the riverbanks, across the bridge opposite the Rose Tree, then back along the other side of the banks towards Noisy Bridge. This was a route that Anna and I had run often as a warm up prior to our early Tuesday morning track sessions with Allan. Frosty mornings had not deterred us, although today was sunny and warm by comparison. As I approached Noisy Bridge I had Allan in mind again, his spot at Parkrun provided an opportunity to think of him and to be thankful for all he gave so many of us. The track was not too far away, and that also provided a number of lovely fun memories of times spent there – the Christmas run being the most recent with inflatable Santas, Mince Pies and chocolates! I toasted the front of Maiden Castle with a Kendal Mint Cake gel – my new running food of choice. I was imagining Striders gathered outside MC doing stretches and cool downs, and the good humoured banter that goes along with that (including Lesley’s scarecrow joke which had Phil, Mark, Rory and I in stitches – for all the wrong reasons!)
Onwards to the club run route – I ran one lap this time round, remembering the first time I had done this route. Stephen came flying past towards the middle of the first lap, looking supremely comfortable. I had commented to Alex B that it was so unfair that Stephen looked so comfortable – Alex said something that would stay with me – he pointed out that the “speedies “ were trying just as hard as the rest of us, and it wasn’t easy for anyone. Too true! Running through the woods today was brilliant – quiet, peaceful, birds and squirrels galore.
After the club run route I headed up towards the science site, remembering a club run there a couple of years ago which was great fun. Michael and Fiona had organized a 3 drill run – reps of the hill, laps of the carpark, and a Parlouf style run towards South Road. I had been paired with Anna M, and we’d had great fun. I again couldn’t resist a couple of efforts on the hills and flats. Going up the hill I had Allan R in my head – “go, go, go” – how he has the energy and breath to shout encouragement whilst still going at some speedy pace himself I will never know!
I then returned to South Road and made my way to the Theatre of Dreams. This holds so many happy memories – I was a regular last year and that was when I really started to see my times improve. I thought the track was for speedies, and had avoided it in favour of 10k routes around town, but the idea of running round a car park was not so intimidating so I really took to it and the interval training it provided reaped big rewards. I had really enjoyed chasing Peter, Mark, David, Alex, Matthew C and Anna M round in circles – we were all very close in pace and had great fun lots of Wednesday evenings. I enjoyed watching Michael and Mark K go flying past, often joined by Graeme in close succession. Seeing Lisa L improve her times here, along with so many others, made it a lovely social occasion.
The last stop was Low Burnhall where I had Elaine in my mind, funny warm up dances, and setting off far to quickly on the first efforts at a pace that I could not sustain throughout despite desperate attempts to do so. I’m not naturally a cross country runner, but I do enjoy trying. Memories of Nina and Jan encouraging me to try to catch Elaine, and of Barrie going flying up the hills, as well as lots and lots and lots of mud….
Back along the A167 I had meant to jog the final mile, but the legs felt good, so I decided to go for it – and ended the run to find I’d got a second place Strava trophy for the “A167 short section” segment, only behind Tracy Millmore on the leaderboard – not bad for the end of a 15 mile run! Clearly my legs are still in decent condition, and the urge to race has not left me! In fact perhaps I’d better to back out and try for that crown soon……
This was a great run – showing that although we are socially distancing, we are not socially distant. My Striders friends were with me throughout that run, in my mind and thoughts. I look forward to the time when we can be together again in person, but until then the Striders family remains a source of strength, inspiration and great memories!
Newton Hall to Kepier hospital on the sands. Hope this relieves the boredom a bit and I thought it apt to talk about the leper hospital. However bad we feel stuck at home we could be John Bulmer.
STOP 2 KEPIER HOSPITAL
The first hospital chapel (now St Giles Church, Gilesgate) was dedicated in June 1112.
Kepier hospital was refoundedbeside the River Wear at Kepier, c.1180, by Bishop Hugh le Puiset with an establishment of thirteen brothers, serving around thirteen (male) inmates as well as travelers and pilgrims. Many were lepers a common disease.
St Giles was the patron saint of beggars and cripples and Godric of Finchale was a doorkeeper of the hospital church before settling at Finchale and further becoming St Godric. Naturally Kepier was important for its hospitality and in 1298 King Edward I was among those entertained here.
Not many years later in 1306 the `visit’ of Robert the Bruce was not so warmly welcomed. On June the 15th of that year Bruce’s Scottish army swarmed towards Kepier and severely burned the building.
Kepier Hospital was inspected in 1535 as part of Henry VIII’s ValorEcclesiasticus survey of monasteries. It was shown to be the richest hospital in the diocese, devoting 25% of its gross annual income of £186
Henry ordered the closure of the lesser monastic houses (including Kepier) prompting the doomed Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion. The Master of the Hospital supported the Bishop of Durham in opposing the Pilgrims, but its (lay) steward Sir John Bulmer was executed for participating in the rebellion. It was the “most serious of all Tudor rebellions”, it was a protest againstHenry VIII’s break with the Roman Catholic Church, the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and the policies of the King’s chief minister, Thomas Cromwell, as well as other specific political, social and economic grievances. John Bulmer was found guilty of treason was tied to a hurdle and dragged through the streets of London. Bulmer was taken to Tyburn and was hanged, almost to the point of death, revived, castrated, disembowelled, beheaded and quartered .Later that day Margaret Cheyney his wife was burnt to death at Smithfield.