All posts by Dougie Nisbet

GP Update after Pier to Pier

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. Sprint Champion Race - click flag for more information.

With Striders being the biggest club at the Pier to Pier thanks go again to John Hutchinson for the task of crunching the GP data. The latest positions can now be found on the GP Results page, with still everything to play for.

We have a fixture change for the fourth Polka-Dot/Mountain event. M4 was scheduled to be the ever popular Cronkley Fell Race, but unfortunately this (sort of) clashes with the DKMS Charity Relays. It has been decided to re-schedule this event to the 19th August to the Sedbergh Hills fell race. This means the next polka-dot/mountain event is Saltwell Harriers Fell race on 3rd July. This is a fantastic first-timers event for anyone wishing to give fell racing a try.

The updated GP schedule can be found on the GP fixtures page.

Calderdale Hike, Saturday, April 14, 2018

40 miles / 6800 feet

Dougie Nisbet

To say I was over-prepared for this race would be an understatement.

After last year’s (frankly embarrassing) DNF I was determined to finish this year. On time and on budget. So I had done a lot of homework. I’m an IT tech and if there’s anything a tech hates, it’s a Single Point of Failure (SPOF). I had split the route into 8 sections and numbered and laminated maps for each section. I had a spare OS map in waterproof bag, smartphone with route marked on OS maps, 2 spare battery packs (in case one jumped out my bum bag), and Garmin with route programmed. Plus, I’d done a lot of armchair thinking.

The Calderdale Hike long route split into 8 laminated map sections

This year is the 40th anniversary of the Calderdale Hike. The course changes a little every three years or so, and for the 40th anniversary the long route would be a neat 40 miles. The event is primarily a navigation challenge and although the organisers give a suggested route you are free to make your own decisions on how to get from checkpoint to checkpoint, providing your route choice is legal and uses only public roads and rights of way. I spent a fair amount of time before the race studying the checkpoints and experimenting with different route choices all from the comfort of an armchair. Nothing beats a route recce, but Sowerby Bridge is a bit of a trek and a recce of the 40 mile route would have taking quite a commitment.

I was soon kit checked and after a leisurely cup of coffee we went outside to hang around waiting to start on a decent dry mild morning. I even had the first couple of kilometres memorised. Last year the peloton had split almost immediately, an experience that had both disconcerted and confused me. So this year I was ready. Or at least I thought so.

Where are they all going?!They did it again! We started a couple of minutes early and I was about to jog off in one direction, but realised that everyone else, without exception, was jogging off in the opposite direction! I did what any normal independently-minded runner would do, I followed the crowd, to discover a small gap in wall led to a street taking a more direct route down towards the canal and the first checkpoint. Despite hours of preparation it just shows nothing beats a bit of local knowledge.

There was a fiddly steep downhill to the first checkpoint, then the next  few kilometres east along the canal path were lovely. Flat and gentle, with everyone settling down. After the checkpoint at Copley we turned south and started to climb. There were a couple of minor route choices here but I wasn’t sufficiently confident of their benefit, especially after the quirky start, so just stick with following the runners ahead. What may be shorter on the map, may also be muddier and slower in reality.

After the Greetland checkpoint I headed south across Saddleworth road and onto the footpath. I was following the suggested route. However I noticed a runner that I’d just passed having a good look at his map before heading west and sticking to the road. Some time later when I caught him up again at Ripponden, we compared notes and although he’d taken the longer road route, it had undoubtedly been quicker and more straightforward than the squelch I’d had across muddy fields and with frequent navigation checks.

Ripponden was a food station and I sat down and had a cup of tea and a sandwich. It was going to be a long day and there was no point in trying to save a couple of minutes by dashing on. I had also settled into a pattern with my navigation. At the checkpoints I would look at my paper maps (beautifully laminated if I say so myself), study the section to the next checkpoint, and get the basics in my head. Map Memory, as they call it in orienteering.
Then while running I would use GPS and smartphone maps to take care of the twists and turns, with the paper maps always there as a backup. Stopping to map read and route plan between checkpoints can be a bit of a hassle and quite time consuming.

Leaving Ripponden there was a substantial route choice to be made. The suggested route headed North East and meandered along the Calderdale Way. But heading west and sticking to the quiet lanes was more direct, and quite a bit shorter, with no extra climbing involved. There were some walkers ahead and they headed for the Calderdale Way and I had a moment of indecision. But I was sure my route was quicker, and although part of me thought it not in keeping with the Calderdale Hike, not to actually go along the Calderdale Way, the orienteer in me is hard-wired to optimise a route and take the most efficient path possible. So for the first time in the hike I took my own route and started climbing North
West out of Ripponden towards the next checkpoint at Hinchcliffe Arms.

I think it was a good choice but it’s difficult to be sure. With an event such as this runners become sparser as the day goes on. So without anyone else to compare myself with I had no real way of knowing whether I’d made the correct decision. At the Hinchliffe Arms checkpoint runners and walkers on the short (27 miles) route took a different path, and things got even quieter.

Photobombing Stoodley PikeThe next section took us past Withens Clough Reservoir and over to Lumbutts Chapel with Stoodley Pike monument of to the right. Navigation was pretty straightforward here with a combination of dead-reckoning and when possible just sticking to the nice runnable surface of the Calderdale Way. An easy runnable descent brought me to the half-way point at Lumbutts Chapel where Roberta was there to meet me. Although I’d been out for over 4 hours we were only a few miles as the crow flies from Sowerby Bridge.

Lumbutts Chapel is no longer in active use but the checkpoint, a table outside the main entrance in the churchyard, had to be nicest checkpoint on the route. The day was mellowing out nicely, the sun was out, and everything felt very springlike. I checked in, bid goodbye to Roberta who was meeting an old University friend for lunch, and headed out.

Checking in at Lumbutts Chapel

On the road to Todmorden I once more decided to avoid the Calderdale Way and stick to the quiet lanes and easy descent to the canal. There was a brief respite of a kilometre or so along the canal path, then a climb up to the next checkpoint at Todmorden Edge. After descending down to the main road there was a long, steep, draining 300m climb to the next checkpoint Keb Bridge.

The Bride Stones The Bride Stones

Towards the top the path drifted right through the Bride Stones and a few of us had to veer back west to get to the road. The checkpoint was easy to miss as it was a dog-leg to the left, down the road a couple of hundred metres, to the car park of the Sportsman Inn.

Easy running into Sowerby Bridge A brief flat section alongside the canal locks in Todmorden A brief flat section alongside the canal in Todmorden

The next few checkpoints were straightforward and for a while I often had a couple of Calder Valley vests in front of me who I sensed had some good local knowledge. As we descended from Heptonstall I knew there was a route choice over Hebden Water. The Calder Valley vests went left, and I went right. My route was shorter but I suspect a bit gruntier on the climb up the other side of the valley towards the checkpoint at Peckett Well.

Peckett Well was an important checkpoint. It had a chop time, and as I discovered last year, you may be contentedly running along but blissfully aware that you’re running out of time and out of the race. This year I had about 45 minutes to spare, not as much as I would’ve liked, but not too close to the wire either. It pretty much confirms my experience last year, where I didn’t have sufficient speed to recover enough time from my navigational error.

Leaving Peckett Well the route started climbing again towards a track leading out onto Midgley Moor. Just ahead of me I was catching another runner who seemed to be examining his map closely. Good stuff. There was an important route choice to be made and we could have a little meeting, weighing up the relative distances, altitudes and terrain. He glanced over his shoulder, and perhaps he didn’t share my interest in contour intervals because he leapt away and next time I saw him he was disappearing into the distance. Even further away I could just detect the splash of a pink jersey that I’m sure had passed me several checkpoints back. Both runners following the suggested route.

The track opened out onto the moor and I paused to have a think.  I studied my map. This was a really interesting bit. No, really! I’d spent some time on my homework for this one and it was quite a tasty puzzle. Like all the route choices, I’d decided I’d choose on the ground, on the day, depending on how I saw things. The organisers’ suggested route stuck to the Calderdale Way, edging south across Wadsworth Moor then turning east across the shoulder of Crow Hill. This involved losing a bit of height (about 10-20m) then climbing to around 360m (are you bored yet?). However, heading straight east across the moor involved a bit more climbing (10-20metres), but you didn’t bleed off any height unnecessarily, and was 1.6km shorter than the organisers’ serving suggestion.

Conditions were good, the paths looked firm, and if it all went wrong it was just a question of following the compass on East and a bit and hitting a track before long. It’d be fine. Low risk, more fun. More interesting navigation.

This is why we run

I clicked my heels together and headed east. The next few kilometres were definitely
in the very pleasant This is why we run category. The shadows were lengthening and the sun was warm and hazy and despite being weary I was pretty comfortable. I was ok for time and there was only about 10km to go. Life was good. My route choice turned out to be sound and I was greeted with enthusiastic applause by the marshalls at the penultimate checkpoint at Jerusalem Farm.

The remaining kilometres counted down steadily as I jogged gently downhill to revisit the first checkpoint at Tenterfields, before the final mile and 100m climb to the finish. Being a back-of-the-pack runner I wasn’t surprised to find people packing up and getting ready to close down the event, but was re-assured when some of the vests I’d spotted out on the course drifted  in some time after I’d finished. Perhaps my route choices hadn’t been too bad after all.

 

My Route
Total distance: 40.06 mi
Max elevation: 1394 ft
Min elevation: 236 ft
Total climbing: 7539 ft
Total descent: -7543 ft
Average speed: 13.16 min/mi
Total Time: 10:18:28
Download

Edale Skyline, Peak District, Sunday, March 11, 2018

AL / 34km / 1373m

Paul Evans

Plan for 2018, after the running horrors of Jan 16-Oct 17: train hard, do XC and hit the ground running with the long races of Marsden-Edale, Wadsworth and the Skyline, with a view to longer stuff later.

Reality: pick up an Achilles injury after Christmas, miss Capt Cook, run/limp a stinker at Herrington XC when injured (worst performance at HL I can recall), exacerbate injury in the process, miss races and become limited to running no faster than 8min/mile without the troublesome tendon swelling and hurting. Up to this point, with the possible exception of the English XC Championships in London, where I ran slowly but at least got round somehow, 2018 has not been a great deal of fun.

So, expectations set to ‘low, just get round,’ I found myself being counted into the starting field at the bottom of the Nab, looking up to the dark edges of Kinder scout, seeing snowy streaks and a sky with a few hopeful-looking patches of blue. It was probably best to look upwards, rather than to my sides, as this was an English Championship race, and the quality at ground level was intimidatingly-good. The usual brief pre-amble over, we ran to and then ascended at a shuffle the familiar zig-zags of the Nab then, just for this one year, turned left on summiting Ringing Roger, one of the many high points of the Kinder plateau; yes, reader, this year the Skyline went backwards, thus making it even more unmissable! In practise, this meant that we hit the clart sooner than usual, and spent the first couple of miles round to Grindslow Knoll undulating, bouncing off rocks, getting our feet soaked in the frequent streams and occasional snowdrifts trapped in sheltered cloughs, and generally spreading out a little; for this section and, as it turned out, much of the race I hung onto the familiar vest of a Sunderland Stroller, catching him on every little climb and watching him bounce past me on the downhills.

‘Brown Knoll’ used to be words that sent an involuntary shudder down the spine of many a fell-runner: a relatively featureless morass of peat, sphagnum, trods leading to uncertain places and, crucially in this race, an area in the final third of the traditional Skyline route, thus hitting the unsuspecting runner precisely when they least needed it (see report from 2015). Not without controversy, a route over it has now been paved due to erosion concerns, which meant this was a faster-than-expected, albeit quite dull section, though I remained cautious and gained fewer places than I could have done with a more aggressive approach here, instead starting to attack a little as we left it and began the long succession of ridge-running that would take us all the way to Lose Hill, that Strollers’ vest remaining an aiming point as we passed a few runners beginning to tire. Half-way along we dropped into Mam Nick, our first encounter with tarmac all race, then reduced pace to a hands-on-thighs walk until hitting the top of Mam Tor, start of the section of the race with ALL the views – this year we could see for miles to both north and south. Lose Hill came, was climbed at a plod, and went again in an exhilarating, wet run/slide combination, one done less well than the dozen or so runners I’d beaten on the climb, all of them repaying the favour with interest on the way down; Hope village at the bottom presented our second encounter with tarmac, a second jelly baby and the start of the real test.

Memory: an unreliable thing. I remember from 2015 the entire section from start to Hope, via Whin Hill, as being fairly easy running and likely to present a nice final few miles the other way round. I still remember 2015’s course this way, though the evidence of my split times and recent nociceptor experience disproves it utterly – once I’d trotted over the railway bridge out of Hope the ascent was severe, on wet, bracken-covered peat with little purchase, the Mars bar nauseated me and I was able to manage a shuffling run when the incline slackened towards the top, through the heather and then on the shooting track. That said, the strung-out line of runners ahead did not look healthy and I was able to gain a lot of places, finally leaving behind the Stroller, passing him again after touching the trig and heading the final 5 miles for home. Mystery solved: I remembered little of this stretch as it was relatively dull, 2 miles of an easy trudge along farm tracks, 3 of a steady uphill back to Ringing Roger, livening up as we left grass and got back onto rock and peat, sore feet and knackered proprioception not helping, though more places gained before dibbing for the last time and heading downhill…where 15-20 runners I’d led, slowly, uphill flew past me and hit the finish line just ahead.

Number cut off and water being taken from the jerrycans stacked against the wall, I watched as both the Stroller I’d raced for hours (Adnan Khan, though we did not know it yet, to show me a clean pair of heels one week later at Alnwick’s Harrier League fixture) and another (Ken Maynard) came in, amongst a steady flow of battered bodies; blood both fresh and dried was prominent on many. An hour later, washed in the stream, fed with chilli, rehydrated with tea (Victoria Wilkinson, having just smashed the female record for the race, queuing patiently behind me) and having gained a new injury (thigh strain) to go with the pre-existing one, life felt better.

It would have been better yet had a hundred Kurds not blockaded a railway line and caused a 3-hour wait for the train back to Sheffield but that, reader, is another story…

Sir Roger Bannister Mile Races, Wednesday, March 14, 2018

PositionNameRaceTime
1Stephen JacksonG4:55.8
2Mark WarnerG5:13.9
3Michael LittlewoodG5:19.9
4Mike MasonG5:22.7
5Matthew ArcherG5:23.2
6Michael AndersonF5:25.6
7Barrie KirtleyF5:35.5
8Rory WhalingF5:36.4
9James LeeF5:44.1
10Doug JardineE5:46.7
11Mike BarlowF5:48.3
12Alex WittyE5:49.9
13James GarlandF5:53.7
14Emma ThompsonF5:58.1
15Aaron GourleyF6:06.7
16Andrew DaviesE6:07.3
17Mark PayneE6:10.2
18Adrian JenkinsE6:11.0
19Malcolm SygroveE6:18.1
20Peter HartD6:18.4
21Mark FosterD6:19.0
22Conrad WhiteE6:21.3
23David BrowbankD6:22.7
24Daniel MitchelE6:31.5
25Rachelle MasonE6:36.4
26Nick LathamD6:46.5
27Jordi SabateD6:46.9
28Chris ShearsmithD6:47.7
29Peter MatthewsD6:48.1
30Jonathan HamillD6:53.7
31Alex BrownC6:55.0
32Neil GarthwaiteD6:59.3
33Dougie NisbetD7:03.7
34Natalie BellE7:04.4
35Lizzie WallaceC7:10.0
36Jean BradleyD7:11.3
37Toni MalkinC7:14.0
38Stephanie BarlowC7:16.0
39Peter BellD7:16.4
40Steve EllisC7:19.0
41Camilla L-MaattaC7:22.0
42Joanne PattersonC7:24.0
43Mathew CarrB7:32.0
44Roz LaytonD7:34.3
45Mike ParkerB7:41.0
46Jan YoungA7:44.0
47James PotterB7:59.0
48Andrew ThurstonC8:01.0
49Andrew DunlopA8:03.0
50Andrew MunroA8:08.0
51Stan WhiteA8:24.0
52Alan SmithA8:26.0
53Jan EllisA8:43.1
54Alison SmithA8:43.9
55Paul O’haraA8:44.0
56Louise HughesA8:46.0
57Sophie DennisA8:49.0
58Sharon PattersonA9:11.0
59Sue WalkerA9:13.0
60Carol HolgateA9:39.0
61Peter DawsonA9:54.0
62Angela CowellA9:57.0
63Mike ElliottA10:03.0

If you enjoyed this mile race then why not register with the NEMAAS (over 35’s)

or enter some races at the NEGP (all ages)

An exciting season starts in May for both fixtures.

Katy And Lesley

Harrier League, Alnwick, Saturday, March 17, 2018

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

Results

men
posbibnamecatpackrace timeactual time
119Dan Leng (Alnwick Harriers)MsenS38:4238:42
51893Mark KearneyMV35S41:0841:08
14543Stephen JacksonMsenF42:5237:52
26508James LeeMV40S43:4043:40
47545Stuart OrdMsenS44:2844:28
53523Michael LittlewoodMV40M44:4042:10
64532Phil RayMV35M45:0142:31
76546Stuart ScottMV35M45:1942:49
87519Matt ClaydonMV40S45:3545:35
104529Paul EvansMV35S45:5845:58
106520Matthew ArcherMV35M46:0043:30
1591912Mike BarlowMV40S47:3547:35
174503Geoff DavisMV60S47:5447:54
184506Jack LeeMsenM48:1345:43
1861890David OxladeMsenS48:1948:19
196517Mark PayneMV35S48:4948:49
2001889Barrie KirtleyMsenS48:5548:55
205507James GarlandMV40M49:1146:41
221487Conrad WhiteMV60S49:5249:52
237498David LumsdonMV50S51:0251:02
242481Andrew DaviesMV40S51:2251:22
249534Richard HockinMV65S52:1252:12
2601892Marc JonesMsenS53:1253:12
2661917Mike BennettMV60S53:2853:28
2761891Jordi Sabate VillaretMV50S54:1654:16
279522Michael HughesMV50S54:3454:34
2961846Nick LathamMV40S55:2555:25
310550Trevor ChaytorMV50S57:3357:33
321547Tim MatthewsMV50S59:4059:40
334544Stephen LumsdenMV45S61:2661:26
339542Stephen EllisMV60S64:1264:12
342479Alan SmithMV70S67:3367:33
women
posbibnamecatpackrace timeactual time
1653Jane Hodgson (Morpeth Harriers & AC)FV35F30:1127:01
51317Fiona BrannanFsenM32:3630:56
36410Elaine BissonFV35F34:4331:33
39436Katy WaltonFV35S34:5134:51
48429Juliet PercivalFV45M35:1933:39
57395Anna BasuFV40M35:3133:51
661352Stef BarlowFV40S35:5935:59
79449Nina MasonFV40S36:3336:33
981336Steph PiperFsenS37:0537:05
104451Rachael BullockFsenM37:1835:38
1051168Natalie BellFsenS37:2337:23
108440Laura JenningsFsenS37:3337:33
114414Fiona ShentonFV55S37:5237:52
118459Sarah FawcettFV55S38:0938:09
1221299Jean BradleyFV60S38:2738:27
137420Jan YoungFV65S39:2739:27
143397Ashley Price-SabateFV50S40:2040:20
181398Barbara DickFV45S44:0044:00
187454Rebecca TalbotFV40S46:0646:06
1901247Alison SmithFV40S47:0947:09

Lifesavers Wanted: Register as potential blood stem cell donor

Elvet Striders have been invited to take over Durham parkrun and use this opportunity to stage a public registration event for DKMS, at Durham Amateur Rowing Club who have kindly offered the use of their premises. The club are working with DKMS to encourage as many people aged between 17-55 and in general good health to attend and register as a potential lifesaver.

The event will take place at Durham Amateur Rowing Club, Green Lane, Durham, DH1 3JU between 0900 and 1030hrs on Saturday 24th March. Chairman of Elvet Striders, Jonathan Hamill said: “As a large local club of some 450 runners we’re pleased to have the opportunity to do something positive to support Shaun and DKMS, and I’d encourage parkrun participants, our local running community and people in Durham to come and support this very worthwhile event.”

Shaun is currently undergoing chemotherapy but will need a donation of blood stem cells from someone with a matching tissue-type to treat his acute myeloid leukemia. His doctors will shortly start the search for a matching donor. The blood cancer charity DKMS is supporting Shaun to help find a donor for him and others seeking matching donors.

Shaun was a fit and active runner before he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia following a routine blood test. Within two days he was admitted to the Northern Centre for Cancer Care in Newcastle for an intensive 4 week session of chemotherapy and his doctors are now searching for a matching blood stem cell donor for him.

As Shaun is a long standing, and well thought of, member of the club, the club would like to do all it can to support this event. Elvet Striders will be taking over the Durham parkrun on Saturday 24th March and working in partnership with DKMS to encourage others to register as potential blood stem cell donors.

Every 20 minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with a blood cancer. Many people never find the lifesaving blood stem cell donor match they need. This isn’t because a match doesn’t exist, it’s simply because there aren’t enough people registered as donors.

Shaun said: “I am absolutely delighted at the response of Elvet Striders as a club to this situation, and hope the forthcoming special DKMS parkrun event is a great success. Thank-you to everyone involved.

I know the club also has fundraising plans for later in the year to help cover some of the costs of processing all the swabs, which I am also delighted about, and who knows … would like to get involved in myself, should I get the chance.”

Sarah Gray, Donor Recruitment Manager, at DKMS UK said: “Please spare the time to attend the event and help find a matching donor for someone in need of a blood stem cell transplant. By doing this selfless act and registering as a potential lifesaver you’ll go on standby to save the life of someone just like you. If you can’t make the donor drive, you can register online for a home swab kit at www.dkms.org.uk.”

To register one potential blood stem cell donor it costs £40. DKMS relies on monetary donations to help cover this cost. Whilst the NHS is very supportive, it falls to charities like us to reach out to those lifesavers – please support us in registering more potential lifesavers and donate online.

For those who want to attend parkrun, the run starts at the Graham Sports Centre, Stockton Road, Durham, DH1 3SE at 0900hrs. The run finishes adjacent to the bandstand on the Racecourse section of the riverside path, near to Durham Amateur Rowing Club. Participants have to register in advance and bring a printed copy of their barcode.

Dentdale Run, Saturday, March 10, 2018

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. Endurance Champion Race - click flag for more information. 14.1 miles

results

PosbibNameCatcat poschip timegun time
1702Steve LittlerM401/321:22:281:22:28
5389Gareth PritchardMSEN3/781:25:571:25:58
16301Michael LittlewoodM403/321:31:271:31:31
2212Matthew ArcherMSEN13/781:33:031:33:09
26417Stuart ScottMSEN16/781:33:271:33:35
9630Michael BarlowM4518/431:47:031:47:08
9746Elaine BissonF402/341:47:161:47:23
128370Mark PayneMSEN43/781:53:361:54:01
129231Peter HartM4015/321:54:061:54:18
131274Fiona JonesF404/341:54:181:54:28
186228Jonathan HamillM4018/321:59:572:00:08
187191Mark FosterMSEN57/781:59:592:00:13
205141Andrew DaviesM4023/322:02:362:02:48
20942Natalie BellFSEN11/212:03:522:04:01
23061David BrowbankMSEN62/782:06:492:07:02
233316Nina MasonF4014/342:07:032:07:20
27931Stephanie BarlowF4516/312:15:052:15:14
290419Anna SeeleyF3513/232:17:052:17:14
29162Alex BrownM4536/432:16:592:17:15
298293Camilla Lauren-MaattaF509/222:17:402:17:49
301182Sarah FawcettF556/162:18:002:18:18
315432Catherine SmithF4023/342:20:052:20:14
321174Stephen EllisM655/72:20:592:21:12
353522Jan YoungF652/32:26:492:27:24
40833Kerry BarnettF4530/312:52:092:52:41

How to become a blood stem cell donor

Shaun racing in the Willow Miner - Feb 2017Shaun was the Elvet Striders web officer for many years and has contributed countless reports and articles. Many of you will have heard the news about Shaun. After a routine blood test he has been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and within two days admitted to the Northern Centre for Cancer Care in Newcastle for an intensive 4 week session of chemotherapy.

Shaun and Ros are very positive and seeing Shaun you wouldn’t realise he is ill. His amazing fitness, positivity and good humour are all helping him. Shaun’s doctors are checking the stem cell register for a match so he can have a transplant.

This post is to help publicise and encourage as many fit young people to join the stem cell register.

Registering is very easy, you just need to be under 55 and you can sign up below:

https://www.dkms.org.uk/en/register-now

and you’ll be sent a DIY cheek swab kit. If you aren’t a match for Shaun, you could be a match for someone else.

Shaun has also somewhat depleted the national blood bank supplies – they’ve been giving him red blood cells and platelets – so don’t forget to give blood!

Please share the link around all your contacts. Thanks.

Grizedale Trail 26, Sunday, February 4, 2018

26.8 miles

Dougie Nisbet

So impressed the official photographer still waiting for all us stragglers!Whenever I see a Facebook post from someone asking for advice about a race I usually nudge them in the direction of the website. A quick search often reveals there are few races where no Striders have gone before. So I remembered to take my own advice and had a quick look to see if there were any stories to read about the Grizedale Trail 26. Sure enough, Dave Robson, Tamsin, and David Brown have all written about their experiences, which I read the night before over a Bluebird Bitter or two.

We’d decided to stay at the Wilson’s Arms in Torver, a handy base we’ve used for a few Lake District events. I was up too early for breakfast but they’d left out cereal and orange juice for me so I was happy enough. The drive to Grizedale Forest visitor centre was a bit further than we expected but we arrived with plenty of time to spare and I was registered in no time. Even though it was early everything was open. Warm toilets, warm cafe. Which was all very pleasant as it was a cold winter’s day.

We had a bit of a wait before the 26 started but it wasn’t really a problem. I sat in the car and sipped coffee and looked out at the cold sunny morning thankful that it was not wet. The weather was much better than I expected and it was promising to be a nice day for a run.

The race briefing was over with a minute or two to spare, but they didn’t start early, in case ‘someone was just parking their car’. This sorta happened to me in the 2010 Derwent Water trail race so I approved of the adherence to protocol. I settled in at the back from the
beginning and did not expect to have a really hard race. Long and slow seems to suit me more than I expected and I, along with many others, were walking the hills from the beginning in anticipation of being grateful for the energy reserves later. What I hadn’t considered is how much I’d still be feeling the Grand Canaria marathon in my legs. It confirms my theory that, if you’re not race-ready or race-fit, simply slowing down doesn’t always help things. Tired legs are tired legs and they’ll want to stop running no matter how slow they’re moving.

On to the second lap. photo by Roberta MarshallThe weather was wonderful and I had a pretty enjoyable, steady first lap. The first bit of the figure of eight. Through the half-way-more-or-less point and across the road towards Windermere where we had a  long steady climb. Although I was taking things gently I could feel the tiredness in my legs and I knew it was going to be a tough day. But the views, the weather and the route all made up for it.

The race support was friendly and faultless. At the third and final feed stop next to Lake Windermere some ridiculously cheerful marshalls cheered and shouted me in and we were having such a good chat I was sorry to push on for the final 10km.

great views of snowy peaks

It was a hard slow slog home but the welcome at the finish was still great for all us stragglers. I don’t know how the organisers manage to stay so cheerful as they wait for every single runner to come back. The marshalls that I’d talked to 10km earlier were now magically transported to the finish, and I got the same rapturous welcome that I had before.

This was a very slick event. The organisation and support was excellent. Race HQ was in the forestry commission visitor centre with hot food and drink. Food stations were simply but amply stocked. There was clear route marking all the way round (with mile markers bizarrely from 13 to 23!) and marshalling at all the key road junctions. The route was never dull. There was always a ‘next corner’ coming up to wonder what was round. The final run in crossed the road and there were no fewer than 5 enthusiastic marshalls managing the crossing and shouting encouragement as the runners belted down towards the finish. I can’t think of anything to fault about the event.

Support comes in all forms. Photo by Roberta Marshall.

Gran Canaria Marathon, Sunday, January 21, 2018

Dougie Nisbet

The expo was a two day affair so I expected things would be quiet when we turned up around opening time. Sadly no. A strange one-way system was in operation and it was clearly VIP time too. And I didn’t know which queue to join, because I didn’t know my bib number, because I wasn’t on the start list. I was paid and registered and everything, but on the sheet lists pinned to noticeboards there was no mention of me.

Still, shy bairns get nowt. So I joined the shortest queue. The queue for bib numbers 1 to 100. I was viewed with some suspicion (can’t think why, don’t I look like someone who’d wear the numero uno?) but who cares. The front of the queue came soon enough and I tried to explain. In English. The volunteer’s English was a million times better than my Spanish but we still struggled. Eventually they found me, on another list, and I walked away happily with number 922, and a mental note not to go to expos the second the door opens. Wait for other runners to find the bugs.

We were staying, more through accident than design, at roughly kilometre 37 of the marathon, as it prepares for its final fast approach to the finish. This, with the hotel serving breakfast from 6am every day as a matter of routine, meant I had a very civilised start to marathon day. I looked out the window and got that strange marathon tingle you get when you start seeing other runners, in ones and twos and groups, drifting in from all directions and making their way to the start. I eventually joined them and was wandering around the start in good time trying to find the baggage drop. It was elusive, time was ticking, and I began to get anxious. I spotted a runner who looked like he was on a purposeful baggage drop trajectory so I tapped his kit bag and yelped Dónde?! He pointed up and replied Arriba! That was all clear enough and I reflected that I may have learned more Spanish from watching Road Runner cartoons than from text books.

The sun has got his hat onBy start time I was quite relaxed and chilled waiting in my pen. Away we went and I settled down into a comfortable pace in the cool morning sunshine. My training put me around a 4:15 marathon and I knew better than to try deceive myself that I was capable of faster. Still, it’s nice to experiment and after about 10km I began to test my pace. I was feeling comfortable but I’ve learned so much from my hot marathons last year, especially Lanzarote  where I pushed too hard and ended up blowing it. So for the first half of the race I gently pushed the envelope, testing how I felt, recognising my limits, and easing back. I was running without a heart-rate monitor but I trusted my instincts on perceived exertion and kept within my limits.

The sun had very much got its hat on by now and I reckoned it was time to get the sunglasses on and turn the cap round backwards. The sweat was dripping in my eyes but, oddly, it wasn’t stinging. Very odd. Then with a start I remembered something important that I’d forgotten! Despite the leisurely start to the day I had managed to leave the Factor 50 untouched on the bed side table. I’m normally very particular about this and now suddenly I was worried. Wear Sunscreen! There wasn’t much I could do about it now, and in the Old Town of Las Palmas there were decent slabs Wear Sunscreenof shade if you chose a good line. Roberta had realised the same thing around the same time and despite heroic plans to unite me with some sunscreen she realised that it was an impossible task. Our hotel was on a narrow strip of land that the course zig-zagged through in the final kilometres and was effectively locked down to taxis and buses.

Kms 9 to 16 are a bit dull. The marathon course was, on the whole, a bit unremarkable. This is the 9th running of the race and much fanfare was made of the fact that the marathon would be a single loop. It sounds good but the single loop often involved running a long way up a dual carriageway, around an orange cone, then back again. In fact kms 9 to 16 were so astoundingly dull that the organisers didn’t even put it on the map.

But that was all behind me now. We’d also left the interesting streets of the old town and were heading back towards the city. I was still pushing the envelope from time to time but I knew to trust my instincts and not crash and burn as I knew I would if I chanced my luck. With about 10km to go I saw Roberta waving a bottle of suntan lotion but by this time I was more interesting in scooshing water over my head and letting fate take its course.

The finish straightAlthough I thought the course overall had been a bit dull at times, it makes up for a lot of that in the closing stages. The last few kms are a fast belt down the lovely Playa de Las Canteras. I wasn’t as fast as I’d like to have been, but I hadn’t blown it either, and I managed a strong controlled finish without the nagging doubt that I could’ve or should’ve gone faster.

I finished in 4:16, marginally faster than Lanzarote, but I ran a poorly executed endgame in Lanzarote, whereas today I had got it about right.