RUNdown – November 2021

Ladies’ Captain’s introduction

Welcome to the November issue of Striders RUNdown. It’s great to see lots of you out and about running, at Strider run sessions and racing. This month saw the popular Brampton to Carlisle road race as well as the Aykley Heads cross country fixture hosted by our club. There were some autumnal trail races. Meanwhile the fell runners of you have been training in wild places for winter and spring events.

In this issue we have a feature on local parkruns. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this review. I found it very interesting hearing your experiences and it has inspired me to want to try different local parkruns.

If you are looking for new local places to run, you might try the local run route around Great Lumley included in this issue. This is a circular trail run which passes through woodland, follows river banks and climbs up to the fields around Great Lumley affording good views to the north.

We finish with the secret recipe for Stephen Jackson’s go-to recovery drink, and with ideas for local Christmas races you might want to enter.

Happy Running!


Ladies’ Captain.

Strider Shout-outs!

Early in the month, on a cold day with horizontal wind and rain, Anna Mason and Steph Barlow conquered the Helvellyn 15k Trail Race. Well done, that was a toughie!

Penny headed south on Saturday 13th November to take part in the Alton Towers 10k. She says everyone got free rides afterwards with no queues! Her kids had a great day. Penny also came first in her age category in the race!

There was a big Strider turnout at the Heaton Harriers/NECAA 10k Road Race on Sunday 14th November. Striders did really well with eye-watering times. Well done to Allan Renwick, Chris Callan, Conrad White, Bryan Potts and Lindsay McEwan. Graeme Watt flew around and got a prize! Ace supporters and photographers were Jude and Leyla Potts.

Also on this day was the Saturn Lapped Running Event down at the riverbanks. As little or as many laps as you like within a set time period. Many Striders enjoyed the challenge plus the social aspect, or just came for the fun of running with friends. Striders that took part included Theresa Rugman-Jones, Steph Greenwell, David and Rachel Toth, Michael Littlewood, Stephen Soulsby, Marc Watson, Anna Seeley, Mick Davis and Nik Corton.

This day also saw the Hamsterley Forest Remembrance 10 Mile and 5 Mile Races. As their website is down I can’t tell if any Striders took part, but well done if you did!

The Slaley Hall Half Marathon took place. Striders Jane Dowsett and myself went. The challenge starts and finishes at the grand Slaley Hall Hotel. This is a wonderful race HQ as the toilets have big mirrors, fresh towels and orange scented hand lotion. The race is a muddy, hilly trail run through the perimeter of the grounds of Slaley Hall, and then into the untouched Slaley Forest. It was a cool but windless day so perfect for running. Jane saw wild deer (fitting at a Wild Deer event!), many mushroom varieties, beautiful views and a lake. I was half asleep that morning. I saw trees. The hill at the end woke me up though, it couldn’t fail to, combined with the fact that the route does a few tantalising twirly bits close to the finish where mental grit was needed.


Hardmoors Super Slam Winner!

Congratulations to Mark Kearney who has become the Hardmoors Super Slam Winner of 2021! He was the fastest runner on average in races Hardmoors 30, 55, 60, 80 and 110 miles!

The Brampton to Carlisle 10 mile Road Race, Saturday 20th November.

This race is very popular with many clubs across the UK, including Elvet Striders. A coach load of you went to run the oldest 10 mile road race in the UK (since 1952). You ran from Brampton to Carlisle following in the footsteps of Allan Seheult (this was his favourite race), Steve Cram and Ron hill. You all did amazing! Special mentions to Jim Nicholson who came 7th in his age category, Anna Basu who came 4th in her age category, Corrine Whaling who came 7th in her age category, Allan Renwick who came 3rd in his age category and Stephen Soulsby who came 9th in his age category. Also the women’s team came 5th!

Congratulations on your achievement also to Wendy Littlewood, Sophie Dennis, Mark Foster, Theresa Rugman-Jones, Steph Greenwell, Aileen Scott, Alan Scott, Lindsay McEwan, Matthew Archer, Kirsty Nelson, Alex Collier, Carol Davison, Michael Dale, Steven Airey, Debra Thompson, Callum Askew, Andrew Davis, Peter Burn, David James, Nina Bojadzic, Emma McCabe, Marc Watson, Lottie Collier and Michael Littlewood.

The Wooler Trail “Marathon”, (29 miles) ‘The Beast’ took place on Saturday 20th November and the Wooler Trail Half Marathon, (14 miles) ‘The Beauty’ took place on Sunday 21st November. These races are organised by Trail Outlaws.

The Marathon.

Alex Brown and myself did this. I will describe it first hand.
Imagine giant green Christmas puddings coming towards you. You run over one, but there is another and another and another. They are squishy and squelchy underfoot and want to suck your feet/whole body into them. Add a freezing cold 50mph headwind and thick mist. Call it a marathon but make it 29 miles. Forget to put whisky on the mandatory kit list. And Voila! You have ‘The Beast’.

Did I enjoy it? Some of the time. Did I suffer? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes (you complete nutter).

The Half Marathon

Now this one is different. It is much lower down so more sheltered. It is stunningly beautiful. There is a little woodland behind Wooler which is vivid in colour and has that pure Northumberland freshness. There are dark green trees, paths of soft pine needles and you hear gentle creakings of boughs in the light breeze and the tappings of woodpeckers. Beams of yellow-orange sunlight pour through gaps in the trees from a winter sun low in the sky. Reaching the edge of the wood you bound across a rustic field of long grass admired by calm and silent cheviot cattle (they wish they could bound so well). This is followed by a steep hill which affords great views of Wooler and beyond. The summit of the hill is broad and peaty in places getting you close to nature before you turn around, head back over that hill then down through Wooler Common. There are some honest efforts involved on this route, and combined with its beauty this makes it truly rewarding.

So big congratulations to Anita Clementson, Heather Raistrick, Camilla Lauren-Maatta, Sarah Fawcett, Jane Dowsett and Graeme Watt. Graeme Watt also came 5th and 1st in his age category.

Aykley Heads Cross Country, Sat 27th November.

Well… this was a cold one! What a fantastic day! Firstly, what an amazing job by Ian Butler, the cross country captains and by everyone who organised this. It ran so efficiently! The radio contact from Phil at the start line to marshals and between marshals was a brilliant. It kept everyone informed and updated.

Thanks to all of you who marshalled. It was horrible weather to stand still in, but without marshals it could not have gone ahead. I raise my glass to you.

Thanks to those who put the tent up…and who put it up again when it blew away!

Thank you to Allan Renwick and Jan Young for their helpful recces of the course before the event. (Did anyone have Allan’s words ‘there is no hill’ in their head during the race?)

Thanks for the delicious baking. I had one of Nick Latham’s Christmas crinkle cookies and give them a rating of 11/10, a firm rival to Jack Lee’s brownies.

Despite the intermittent sleet showers, wind and cold, brilliant team spirit and support was seen. How lovely to be part of such a fantastic group of people. This was a muddy and testing course. You all did really well and ALL your efforts count no matter where you come, as everyone’s placing affects the overall placing of the team. Of course, it’s also nice to do well 😃. The men’s team came 5th and the women’s team came 1st, whoop whoop! Our teams now have more secure positioning in the tables. Well done to Ben Hoare and James McNaney for getting promoted! (This was James’s first Harrier League cross country event!). Bring on Thornley!

Finally, congratulations to Nina Mason who won the Alan Purvis Cross Country Quaich for the cross country season 2019-2020. Well deserved.


As before, my apologies for anyone, any races or personal achievements I have missed. Please do contact me if you would like a shout out in the next issue.

Focus on parkrun

I’m sure you’ll agree that parkrun is an enjoyable way to start the weekend, and that is it very versatile. It can be a social run with friends, part of a longer run, a training run, or used as a personal pace review. You can turn up with your dog, family and friends and catch a coffee afterwards at some of them. The parkrun website reveals there is a huge variety of parkruns not to far from Durham.

Durham parkrun


Most of you will have done our local parkrun at Maiden Castle. What a scenic course along the river this is! Can be a bit of a bottle neck at the start, has a few twists and turns but then that lovely big flat grassy field with lots of space to run. By the time you reach the gravel track people are usually spread out so still lots of space to run all the way to the end. It has that little gift of a hill up onto Bath’s Bridge to sap your energy just before the sprint finish. There is also the option to make it into a longer run using our beautiful Houghall woods and riverbanks, or to grab a coffee in Maiden Castle Sports Centre cafe. Lots of free parking now at Maiden Castle.

Karen Byng was there when this parkrun began. She says ‘I think I was there at the 5th or 6th parkrun in Durham, in fact I think I accidentally joined in one or two of the first ones because I was running round the riverbanks on my usual Saturday run and ended up alongside these crazy people doing 5k every Saturday! I couldn’t understand at that point why anyone would want to go and run ONLY 5k… till I did it myself and got hooked.’

Durham parkrun was David Browbank’s first parkrun. He did it in 2015 at the end of his couch to 5k training plan. He says since then, Durham has always been his favourite parkrun, the social side really adding to the experience. He attributes his improvement in pace to be down to a combination of parkrun and Striders’ track sessions.

Riverside parkrun, Chester-le street

This is flat and fast with a few bends. Many people use this course to get a good time. James McNaney won his first parkrun at Riverside 6 weeks ago. He says this was ‘a goal I had attempted and worked towards for lots of years. I celebrated with prosecco and whisky.’

This is also Karen Byng’s favourite local parkrun as it’s a fast course. She says ‘I am used to swimming so laps are OK for me!’ She likes the setting next to the river. She also has great memories of helping some others on the couch to 5k programme where this parkrun was the goal event.

In terms of facilities, there are toilets at Riverside Park. There is a big car park which is pay and display, but you can avoid this cost by cycling or running from Durham if you are needing extra miles or feeling energetic!

Jubilee parkrun, Spennymoor.

Vics Thompson says ‘it’s a small park so I seem to recall it was 3 and a bit laps I think. A bit twisty and turny, grass and path. Lovely though’. Wendy says this parkrun is ‘very friendly especially as a few of the core team are Striders (Adam Bent, Carol Davison, Steph Greenwell). ‘ There are toilets at the park and parking is around the park.

Herrington Country parkrun

David Oxlade showed Emma McCabe and myself this course after a trail run in the Penshaw area as we wanted a few more miles. It is very pleasant. It uses tarmac and grass paths to circumnavigate the park. You go past the ponds and up to the view point with the metal sculptures which are actually telescopes to be able to identify local landmarks. Each sculpture has a sign on it indicating which landmark you will see through the telescope, such as Durham cathedral.
There is an excellent cafe over the road from Herrington Country Park where we had A LOT of pots of tea (many pots of tea arrived, surely more than we ordered!), bacon rolls and huge scones.

Sedgefield parkrun

This is two laps of the majestic Hardwick Park near Sedgefield. You run past little lakes with many swans and ducks and past restored 18th century ornamental buildings including a grotto, folly and temple. Wendy says it is ‘flat at the start and then slightly down towards the lakeside. There is a lovely flat part beside the lake and then a tricky little hill. There is a great finishing funnel just in front of the visitor centre’. She says ‘We’ve tended to go there for Christmas Day and it’s always well attended with a sing a long at the start!’
Of course, Hardwick Park is great for families, for walks, den building, hide and seek in the trees, and there are the playgrounds there so parkrun can be part of a family morning out. There are toilets, visitor centre and a cafe. The parkrun website says parking is free until 11am if you display a copy of your barcode in your windscreen.

Slightly further afield parkruns

This includes the new parkrun at Hamsterley Forest. Wendy Littlewood has enjoyed this one. It uses pretty trails through the forest. Windy Nook parkrun in Gateshead is windy (I can vouch for this as I work near there and the area is continuously battered by a gritty cold blast), It is hilly and uses a local wildlife meadow.

There are parkruns at South Shields, Whitley Bay, Hackworth Park in Shildon which is three laps of the park (dogs not allowed) and Silksworth (Sunderland). The Silksworth parkun is a loopy course around the Silksworth sports complex all on tarmac paths. Karen Byng says there is a massive hill at the end.

Yet further afield are Town Moor parkrun in Newcastle, Jesmond Dene (Newcastle) and the Rising Sun parkrun at Rising Sun Country Park in Benton, Newcastle.

There is also Gateshead parkrun (in Saltwell Park, Gateshead), Karen says, ‘I did with Jane Dowsett in the pouring rain and despite that we had a laugh but lots of hills!’

Ashley Price-Sabate rates the Prudhoe Riverside parkrun, should you be up that way. She says it is ‘a nice route along the river within woodlands. It is popular with dog runners.’ She has also been to Cotsford Fields parkrun at Horden and says ‘this is quite an exposed hilly route with good sea views.’

James McNaney finds South Shields is his favourite parkrun. He says he has ‘only done this once but the scenery of running along cliff tops is awesome and the last one miles is the same as the great north run.’

What a fantastic pick of parkruns we have near us!

Local Run: Great Lumley Trail Loop 5.3 miles

Enjoy this hilly trail run around Great Lumley. At this time of year the trees along the Lumley Park Burn are resplendent in reds, yellow and brown Autumnal colours. You will need trail shoes as it is a little bit muddy in places after rain.

To do this run, there is good parking in Great Lumley along Cocken Lane near the school (see map) From here, it is easy to join the route along a footpath to the south of the houses, or by going a short distance along Front Street in either direction.

Options to extend it:

1. This loop lends itself well to a longer (12 mile) run if you live in Newton Hall. From Newton Hall go over the train bridge and run through Low Newton Junction Nature reserve to Brasside. From Brasside run along the minor road to Finchale Abbey. Cross the river at Finchale Abbey and run up through Cocken Wood. Run along Cocken lane on the wide grass verge to join the loop above, then run back same way.

2. Cuddy’s course (8 miles). Get bus to Chester-le-Street. Start at Cestria Church. Run through Riverside park, over the road bridge over the River Wear to join the loop on the map at the River Wear. Follow the route on the map above to point of photo 1. Then run down Cocken Lane to Finchale Abbey, to Brasside, through nature reserve, along River Wear into town to end at Durham Cathedral. This route is waymarked with Cuddy’s course signs. It is the route that St Cuthberts community carried St Cuthbert in his coffin and his book the Lindesfarne Gospels to Durham Cathedral.

Stephen Jackson’s Quick Go-to Recovery Drink

It’s important to re-fuel, ideally with something protein rich, straight after a run. Stephen Jackson shares his quick go-to recovery drink.

1 banana
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 scoop of whey protein supplement or hot chocolate powder
1 mug Milk (diary or oat milk)


Blitz the whole lot in a blender, pour it into a glass. Find a comfortable chair and sit back and savour the drink.

Let’s hope this makes us as fast as him!

Upcoming Christmas Races and Running Events

Should you be starting to feel festive and want an opportunity to wear a Santa Hat, the Strider run leaders are putting on a Wednesday Christmas run session with mince pies and mulled wine and a Festive Treasure hunt trail run around the Woodlands Trust (dates to be confirmed). However, if you fancy a Christmas race one of the following may be of interest?

Run Northumberland Hot Chocolate Kirkharle Half Marathon and 10K. Sun 12th Dec. Trail. Hilly. 2K kids run. Mug and hot chocolate.

Chopwell woods Christmas trail runs (8 and 4 mile races and 1 mile kids run) Sun 19th Dec. Wooden medal, mince pies, nibbles and a drink for all finishers.

Santa 10K Trail, Trimdon Grange. Mixed terrain. Sun 19th Dec. Wearing of Santa hats encouraged. Medal and selection box to all finishers.

Silent night fell race. Chapel fell Top, Weardale. 6.6km. Mon 20th Dec. Durham Fell Runners Association.

Run Northumberland Rothbury Festive 10K Mon 27th Dec.

Newcastle Town moor Winter Wonder Tue 28th Dec. 5k laps of Newcastle Town Moor. As many or as few as you want between 09:30 and 15:30. Northeast Marathon Club.

parkrun. Check parkrun website for dates for individual parkruns. Make it as festive as you want by dressing up!

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3 thoughts on “RUNdown – November 2021

  1. Thanks so much for this Tamsin. I really enjoyed reading it. What a great club we’ve got…..and I 💜 parkrun 😊

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