Monthly Archives: November 2020

Captains Report 2020

Hello folks,

Last time we said it would be a while, and so it has been.

Reading over last year’s report truly brings home what a different world we are living in now. Anyone remember parkrun? Or that we did in fact have a cross country season? Even in these… ‘times’ (insert appropriate adjective), we are so very proud of our club and its heart, our club members. We have continued running, just in different ways and with adjusted objectives. Running Strong.

As always, it is so difficult to pull out individual highlights for fear of omitting other worthy feats however we feel a couple of people need mentioning who have completed particularly outstanding or perhaps just plainly ridiculous adventures. Beginning the year, Elaine Bisson pushed further than ever before to win the Montane Spine 100 mile Challenger (what next??). Segway to Stuart Scott: a Backyard Ultra on his treadmill – 108 miles in 26 hours in April followed by The Accumulator in May with Aaron Gourley (the number of miles ran each day to correspond with the date of the month, a total of 500 miles for the month) and in June a 24 hour run in aid of RT Projects.
Across the world (virtually, of course), Wendy and Ashley were amongst others in the club who ran the length of Tennessee… and back again to complete 1270 miles over the early summer. Maybe they fancied the holiday experience? No words to describe the endurance and strength of character each one of these challenges will have taken.
Alex Brown’s achievements are also worthy of note. Hitting his distance pb with the Hardmoors 55 (and looking exceedingly chirpy with it) was not enough, he then completed the Virtual Wooler Marathon (28.5 miles) just a few weeks later. Perhaps the PE department will stake a claim to poach him from the History department soon!
Continuing in the long-distance range, it was amazing to see Mark Kearney representing Striders proudly by winning the Punk Panther Ultra in lockdown conditions. He has certainly not let up on his impressive mileage and looks set to crack 4000+ miles this year. Only a very select group of Striders will achieve that in 2020.

Finally, no Captain’s report in recent years would be complete without mentioning ‘the legend that is’: Stephen Jackson. In running terms, Stephen has once again shown his talent by achieving the club’s 10k record with a time of 31:30 beating his own previously held record. Not content with this, he also beat the club record for HM with a time of 68:50 again beating his own previously held record. We are all aware that Stephen recently moved to run first claim for Sunderland Harriers. Elvet Striders will forever have your back Stephen and we wish you all the best as one of the most brilliant and gracious runners in the North East. Dave Shipman however, is delighted to retain the club’s mile record time!

2020 has been a year like no other. So many cancelled events, no team buses, club runs or parkruns. Camaraderie is such an important part of the club and this has not ceased due to lockdown (not the first, or the second). Seems like every week we have heard of our members completing virtual challenges either solo or with running buddies – we will still pretty much run any distance for a bit of bling (I hear Corrine has a lovely framed pictue of the A167 on her wall now)! Well done to all of those who have further and faster (or slower, or shorter!) in these circumstances, you are all built of stern stuff.

It is an old saying but still true. This club cannot function without its volunteers and we would like to say a huge thank you to our run leaders who have proved their flexibility this year by continuing to find imaginative ways to keep us going throughout, leading small groups and quality training sessions. Hear this: you are appreciated, and so much (it’s a gang that is always open to new members by the way!). Who could have thought a car park would become our main training ground, and special thanks to Michael (from Fiona, and the rest of us) for devising and running the sessions that soon became known as the ever popular ‘Theatre of Dreams’. Next year, look forward to the franchising and expansion to multiple locations, new coaches, new car parks, new dreams… (thank you Tamsin!)

Prior to this meeting Jonathan Hamill announced his intention to step down as Chairman of Elvet Striders, a position he has held since 2017. Jonathan has done an outstanding job leading this club for several years, from one turbulent situation to another. Being Chairman is a time consuming, difficult, and unpaid position, made only tougher through juggling full time work and the added pressures having a young family brings. We appreciate the not inconsequential effort and sacrifices you have made in devoting your time to the running of the club: they have not gone unnoticed. Thank you, Jonathan.

A personal note from Michael here, at the end of last year Elvet Striders lost an irreplaceable member, coach and friend. Allan Seheult first gave me any confidence in my running ability, I would run through walls for him. He epitomised Striders for me. The friendship, the generosity, the encyclopaedic running knowledge. So many of us benefitted from his kinship and support. We will never forget him. As 2021 beckons and the hopes of a vaccine develop, I am sure we are all wishing for the day that we can return to some form of group running and perhaps even cross country and elbows out (fingers crossed!!) When this happens, lets not get too excited and let’s remember Allan’s three points of sage advice: … Don’t go off too fast, don’t go off too fast and don’t go off too fast!

Thank you all, and here’s to the next year!

Fiona and Michael

Saturn Virtual Remembrance Run, Saturday, November 7, 2020

Marathon

Jo Robertson (With Louise Collins)

It’ll be the last time Louise Collins ever messages me on a Thursday afternoon asking whether I was going for a long run on Saturday….. “For sure” said I, “fancy a marathon attempt?”

So the plan was made, neither of us having properly trained for it but after a run of races being cancelled, me wimping out of Langdale Half due to the weather and a fairly solid summer of training for not very much, it felt like the virtual Saturn Run was an opportunity for us both for a first marathon.

We started early, Louise in her customary tiki shorts and t-shirt regardless of the weather and me wrapped up for Jack Frost (with my snowstorm tiki’s on to boot). We had agreed a 10-minute mile plan which I was super keen for us to stick too. It was going to be a tough day as it was, for me, and Louise is a considerably stronger runner than I am, so pacing was going to be key to my success.

We had a brilliant time. Starting from Durham we followed the lines all the way to Bishop which although a bit dull did allow us to tick off a lot of relatively easy miles. We particularly enjoyed telling someone we were running to Durham – when we were quite clearly going in the wrong direction! Arriving at Kynren was a bit of a shock for us having not really known where we were for some time and a few stops for photos (including many poppies) followed.

I had planned three different possible routes and the one we chose was the flattest. I don’t know Bishop at all but the maps on my watch had us, and as long as we followed the map line we were good. I think Louise was questioning this as we embarked on quite a long climb up Durham Road which, for those who don’t know Bishop, is definitely not flat. Louise was a trooper and ran the whole way – pausing to wait for me to catch up each time! I think the hill took quite a bit out of me and I must admit around mile 15 I was quite head down. My right leg was hurting and it was feeling like hard work with a long way to go. Louise still appeared to be super fresh and it was probably the only time I was a bit worried this wasn’t going to be.

Thankfully we arrived into Spennymoor and to Louise’s parents waving flags and cheering us on. I think I was the one who needed and benefited from it more than Louise to be honest! It was an enormous pick me up and I actually felt my legs get lighter as we set off again. Onwards down Tudhoe Front Street and more support just as we hit 20 miles from Terry and my very excited children. My leg still bothering me but we were keeping pace really well and I was delighted to be able to confidently tell them we were going to make it.

Heading over to High Shincliffe via Sunderland Bridge we spent much of the last six miles telling each other we were nearly there, trying to calculate whether we would need the loop of High Shincliffe planned or whether the detour to Louise’s parents would be enough and continually looking at our watches. Neither of us wanted to have to do that extra loop and the sense of relief when we worked out we didn’t need it was significant. Maths like that at 23 miles in is pretty impressive too I think! Our pace was still really good but it felt like a very long parkrun home and we’ll both admit to hanging-on as we headed down the A177 – by this point comparing which parts of us were hurting the most. I would have burst into tears on the hill outside Maiden Castle if it wasn’t for the fact we were only 0.5m from the finish line but even then I had to walk it. Absolutely nothing left. The finish line did arrive though and the lamppost after the parking meter on Quarryheads Lane will never be looked at the same again by either of us.

Just a short walk back home including one of the steepest hills in Durham (sorry Louise!) but by then it was all done and we had finished bang on pace. Emma Piasecki nearly causing a crash on the A690 to pull over and give us a well-done cheer was the cherry on top of the cake.

It feels somewhat strange having a first marathon being a virtual one. We definitely stopped which you wouldn’t do in a race, but it does leave me keen to experience a proper one and see what’s possible with more dedicated training – we can only hope for races like that at the moment though. Having said that though, the team-work was so much fun and there is a heck of a lot to be said for shared experiences like that in this lockdown world. Thank you Louise.