Grand Prix 2023-24

What is the Elvet Striders Grand Prix?

The Elvet Striders Grand Prix (GP) is an annual competition for club members that covers a range of different races. The GP is a long tradition in the club, and is a fantastic opportunity to participate in events with other Striders, and try types of event that you haven’t done before. It’s actually two competitions, as men’s and women’s results are treated entirely separately. 

It is made up of 30 races in total in five general categories: Cross-country (XC), Endurance, Sprint, Fell (six races each), and Trail (four races, in this introductory year, with an aspiration to expand in future years). Additionally this year there will be two parkruns included, though they won’t form a category of their own.

The Grand Prix includes races which may be commercial enterprises, club races, or races organised by local communities, often in aid of charitable concerns.

The GP season will begin on Monday 2nd October 2023, and will end on Friday 4th October 2024. However, to ensure that all the Northeast Harrier League fixtures are all included, the Wrekenton NEHL race on Saturday 23rd September 2023 will be carried into the 2023-24 season. Ages for the age-based prizes will therefore be calculated at 23rd September 2023.

Prizes

Prizes will be awarded at the end of the season. There are quite a number of them, 20 in all. They are, firstly, a series of age-graded prizes, for each gender:

  • Senior. Under 40, named MSen and WSen.
  • O40. 40 to 49, named MO40 and WO40.
  • O50. 50 to 59, named MO50 and WO50.
  • O60. 60 to 69, named MO60 and WO60.
  • O70. 70 and over, MO70 and WO70.

Secondly, there are prizes for each category. So for each gender, there are:

  • Cross-country, named MXC and WXC.
  • Endurance, named MEndurance and WEndurance.
  • Sprint, named MSprint and WSprint.
  • Fell, named MFell and WFell.
  • Trail, named MTrail and WTrail.

How are the Scores Calculated

Each race is scored separately for each prize. Points are awarded for each applicable prize as follows:

  • The leading Strider eligible for that prize will receive 15 points,
  • The second runner will receive 14 , 13 for third and so on, all the way down to 1 point.
  • Every participating Strider will receive at least one point, even if more than 15 take part.

So, for example, if a female runner aged 55 runs a cross-country race, and is 17th Strider to finish, but 4th Strider between 50 and 59, she will score one point towards the WXC prize, but 12 points towards the WO50 prize.

The points for each prize are accumulated throughout the season, and published frequently. Everyone who competes in a GP race (using their own number, unofficial number swaps will not be included) will see their result in the tables of standings, which show the points accumulated so far, and the individual scores for each race. If you hover the mouse or tap the points score for the race, the actual time will appear as a tool-tip.

Race Categories

Here are descriptions of each race category:

Cross-country (XC)

Cross-country is a racing discipline which takes place during the winter months. The races are generally quite short, approximately 4 miles for women and 6 miles for men (this disparity is frequently a subject of debate). They are run on unmade terrain, mostly grass, though in winter weather after the passing of many feet mud usually dominates. XC has a reputation for being hard work, but it is very rewarding, both in terms of training benefit and sense of achievement.

At cross-country, you get the experience of competing directly for the club; all the GP races are part of inter-club competitions, whether they are league fixtures or a single championship event. The spirit of camaraderie, as well as the sampling of baked goods, makes these events a great day out. Also note that the club pays your entry fee!

The Grand Prix will have five fixtures from the Harrier League, and the Northern Cross-country Championships. The “Northerns” are due to be held in the Northeast this year, though the venue is yet to be announced.

Endurance

The Endurance category this season consists of a number of longer road races, all of which have been popular with Striders over the years. The range of distances is 10 miles through to marathon, with courses of varying hilliness.

Most of these are single races, but there are two exceptions in the Endurance category:

  • Rather than include a single marathon in the fixture list, Striders may submit their best time from any other 26.2 mile marathon within the Grand Prix period.
  • The Great North Run is included, but due to the difficulty of securing places, Striders who don’t compete in the GNR can submit a time from any other 13.1 mile half-marathon. This does not include the Brass Monkey race, which is on the GP in its own right.

Such results generally need be submitted to the GP by the runner, though more prominent races, e.g. London Marathon, will be included automatically.

This also means that the final points for these two races cannot be calculated until the end of the competition. However, interim results will be published at appropriate times throughout the season.

Sprint

The Sprint category consists of races ranging from 1 mile to 7 miles. It includes road, track and mixed (though firm) terrain races. Again, these races are established club favourites, where a trip to the pub usually follows. All of these races are very local, with three taking place in Durham, two in Newcastle, and one on the coast between South Shields and Sunderland.

Fell

Fell racing is often perceived as difficult and a bit ‘niche’. While it is true that many are serious mountain expeditions, there are loads of fell races which are well within the compass of mere mortal runners.

The races in the Fell category have been chosen from races that are supported and regulated by the Fell Runners Association (FRA). The FRA guarantees that they comply with certain basic standards, and are run on a not-for-profit basis. Fell races tend to be very reasonably priced!

In the words of the FRA, fell running is challenging with some inherent hazards. Self-sufficiently and self-navigation are central to the ethos of fell running and race entrants must be confident they are capable of completing any race they enter. There will be mandatory kit lists for these races.

That said the races have been chosen with the purpose of encouraging Striders to give fell racing a try. Most of them are at the ‘easier’ end of the fell running spectrum, and are great opportunities to combine an enjoyable day in the countryside with a race.

In the fixture list, the FRA classification for the the races is shown, which gives a guide to how hard the race might be. Firstly by the amount of climb and descent, relative to the length of the race. This is therefore a measure of the overall steepness of the race. ‘A’ indicates the steepest, through ‘B’ to ‘C’ for the least steep. Secondly, by length:

  • S for short – less than 10km,
  • M for medium – between 10 and 20km,
  • L for long – over 20km.

So an AL race is both long and steep, whereas CS is short and over shallower gradients. The GP does not contain an AL race!

The approximate race distance and ascent are also shown in the fixture list.

Anyone wishing to enter any of the races, but with doubts about their capabilities for completing the race, may consult the FRA website or Geoff Davis (Fell & Mountain Running Coach) for advice. Many other Striders have experience on the fells, and will be glad to help.

Trail

For the first time, the Grand Prix has a specific category for Trail races. There are four races in the category, but it is hoped to increase this to six in future seasons.

Trail racing is all about getting away from roads and running on a great variety of terrain, on an ‘as you find it basis’. They are often hilly, sometimes navigation skills are required, and mandatory kit may be stipulated by the organisers. In addition to providing a great running challenge, they often take place in scenic areas.

The four selected races range from 5.2 miles to 23 miles. The terrain is very varied, and as they are spread across the whole year, the weather is likely to be varied too.

Current Standings

See this page for the standings for 2023-2024.

Marathon and Half-marathon Results

See this page for qualifying results in marathons and half-marathons.

Fixture List

This is the full fixture list for the season. In many cases, the race organisers have not yet released full details, so the list is subject to change. It will be updated throughout the season as more information becomes available.

RaceDateCategoryVenueOrganiser
Wrek
Wrekenton NEHL
23/09/23 (Sat)XCWrekentonNEHL
The usual curtain-raiser to the cross country season, in the suburbs of Gateshead. Often, but not always, quite dry underfoot.
Results
Drur
Druridge NEHL
15/10/23 (Sun)XCDruridge BayNEHL
A relatively flat course near the Northumberland Coast, which has been known to be very wet in the past. There will be a Striders bus to this fixture.
Results
Fruit
Gibside Fruit Bowl
05/11/23 (Sun)TrailGibsideBlackhill Bounders
This undulating 7 mile race is making a welcome return to the running calendar an absence of several years. It takes place at the Gibside National Trust property.
Results
BtoC
Brampton to Carlisle
19/11/23 (Sun)EnduranceBramptonBorder Harriers
A 10 mile, fairly flat race and a real Strider favourite day out. There will be a Strider bus and a visit to a pub for Sunday lunch .
Results
Blyth
Blyth Sands
03/12/23 (Sun)TrailBlythBlyth Running Club
A unique(?) 5.2 mile beach race with an age and gender handicapping system. It’s an out-and-back, so if you’ve got the wind behind you in one direction, it’s in your face in the other. As a handicap, this race will be scored for the GP based on race times, rather than actual running times.
Results
Cook
Captain Cook Fell Race
01/01/24 (Mon)FellGreat AytonEsk Valley Fell Club
BS / 8km / 318m. A popular race among Striders on the North York Moors with the chance of a pub meal post race with clubmates.
Results
Brass
Brass Monkey
21/01/24 (Sun)EnduranceYork RacecourseYork Knavesmire Harriers
A hugely popular half marathon run along minor roads south of York. Its fast flat course makes it a chance to lay down a marker early in the year. In previous years it has also been a keyboard race to secure an entry, but a random ballot system is being employed this year. There will be a Strider bus and a pub lunch organised.
Results
NorthXC
Northern Cross Country Championships
27/01/24 (Sat)XCSedgefieldNorthern Athletics
These championships will give you the chance to race against cross country runners from all over the north of England.
Results
Aln
Alnwick NEHL
02/03/24 (Sat)XCAlnwickNEHL
Another Strider bus trip to the final fixture of the league season. The course has a tough climb and a fine downhill stretch to the finish line, as well as fine views of Alnwick Castle.
Results
Dent
Dentdale
09/03/24 (Sat)EnduranceDent Dentdale Run Committee
A hilly road race of 14.2 miles in a beautiful Yorkshire Dale. Striders seem to win lots of prizes here every year. There is also a shorter race of 7.9 miles (not on the GP) held at the same time. This event has a real community feel, and all proceeds go to the local school.
Results
Lamb
CANCELLED
Lambton Castle NEHL
17/03/24 (Sun)XCLambton CastleNEHL
This is a pleasant course by the river in the grounds of Lambton Castle near Washington, with a long climb.
(This race has been cancelled, and won’t be replaced in the GP.)
Race Info
Con14
Coniston 14
23/03/24 (Sat)EnduranceConistonAn enthusiastic committee of volunteers from Coniston village
Completing a circuit of Coniston Water, this race bills itself as “probably the most beautiful road race in Britain”. The undulating 14 mile course is also one of the toughest.
Results
Thorn
CANCELLED
Thornley Hall Farm NEHL
13/04/24 (Sat)XCThornleyNEHL
Thornley cross country has a reputation for being wet and muddy. Medals should be awarded to all participants.
(This race has been cancelled, and won’t be replaced in the GP.)
Race Info
GisbM
Gisborough Moors Fell Race
21/04/24 (Sun)FellGuisborough Esk Valley Fell Club
BL / 20km / 850m. The only ‘long’ race in the Fell Grand Prix. A long-standing race on the North York Moors, enjoyed by many Striders over the years. It even includes a couple of miles of tarmac!
Race InfoResults to follow
PtoP
Pier to Pier
19/05/24 (Sun)SprintSouth ShieldsSunderland Strollers
This nearly seven mile race begins on the beach at South Shields and follows the coastline to finish on the beach at Roker. The club will organise a bus to this event, and traditional fish (vegan food also available) and chips and a pint in the pub usually follow.
Results
Swale
Swaledale Marathon
08/06/24 (Sat)TrailReethSwaledale Outdoor Club
Not quite a marathon, but 23 miles of tough ups and downs in a beautiful area. A very popular race, where they look after you properly – the after race food and big cups of tea are lifesavers. Proceeds from the race are paid to those other lifesavers, the Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team.
Race InfoEntries closed (race full – watch for transfers)
Blay
Blaydon
09/06/24 (Sun)SprintNewcastleBlaydon Harriers
Ah me lads (and lasses), this is a bit of a Northeast icon. A six mile race from the centre of Newcastle to Blaydon, which will sell out quickly, so be ready when entries open. Strider bus.
Race InfoSold out. Transfers availalble throughout May.
Pensh
Penshaw Half
16/06/24 (Sun)TrailHerrington Country ParkTrail Outlaws
One of Trail Outlaws Urban Series, this race is much harder than it looks, and features the climb of Penshaw Hill to reach the finish line.
Race InfoEntries Open
BOTT
Bridges of the Tyne
02/07/24 (Tue)SprintNewcastleTyne Bridge Harriers
This fast and flat five mile race along the Newcastle Quayside always attracts a strong field. A fun-filled summer weekday evening.
Info (race full – transfers will be available)
Skid
Skiddaw Fell Race
07/07/24 (Sun)FellKeswickKeswick AC
AM / 15.4km / 960m. The only Lake District race in the series and probably the toughest. Up to the top of Skiddaw from Fitz Park, turn around and come back down. What’s not to like?!
Race InfoEOD only
Mile
Allan’s Mile
10/07/24 (Wed)SprintMaiden Castle Elvet Striders
Allan Seheult always organised these one mile track races, and devised the age-grading system for scoring them. It’s a brilliant night of intense running and loud cheering, open only to Striders, and a few guests.
Race Info to follow
Dur10
Durham 10k
18/07/24 (Thu)SprintDurhamDurham City Run Festival
Our local race has a unique, twisty course and a spectacular finish on the Palace Green, There is also a 5k race, but this is not on the GP.
Race InfoEntries Open
Osmo
Osmotherley Show Fell Race
03/08/24 (Sat)FellOsmotherleyOsmotherley Show and Lets Run
BS / 8.8km / 320m. Another short race from a brilliant agricultural show just down the A19. Bring the whole family for tea, cakes and ice-cream.
Race Info (incomplete)
PBs
Night of PBs
28/08/24 (Wed) (TBC)SprintMaiden CastleElvet Striders
Another great night of running on the track. A chance to really go for a great time at 5000m, with pacers to help you achieve it. Open to Striders and guests only.
Race Info to follow
Bell
Bellingham Show Fell Race
31/08/24 (Sat)FellBellinghamBellingham Show
BS / 6.4km / 183m. This fell race is a short, sharp, grassy race from a wonderful Northumberland agricultural show. It passes by the beautifully titled Shitlington Crags!
Race Info (incomplete)EOD only
Cronk
Cronkley Fell Race
07/09/24 (Sat)FellHolwick, TeesdaleDurham Fell Runners
BM / 17.1km / 560m. A long pleasant run out on trail paths with an up-and-over hill before a turning point in the River Tees and return along the same route. Watch out for the crocodile!
Race InfoEntries open
GNR+
Great North Run (or other Half)
08/09/24 (Sun)EnduranceNewcastleGreat Run
Claims to be the biggest half marathon in the world, and the certainly the most famous running event in the Northeast. It can be difficult to get into, and is expensive, so if you don’t run it you can include any 13.1 mile half marathon in your GP scores instead (apart from the Brass Monkey, which is on the GP in its own right).
Race InfoEntries closed
Mara
Any Marathon
Any time in the GP seasonEnduranceYourself!
The classic distance, and a huge challenge. There are so many marathons out there, so you can choose any 26.2 mile marathon to contribute to your GP points.

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