All posts by Dougie Nisbet

Harrier League, Aykley Heads, Durham, Saturday, November 18, 2017

women
posbibnamecatpackrace timeactual time
1657Laura Weightman (Morpeth Harriers & AC)FsenF28:3025:10
6456Sally HughesFsenS29:4829:48
9412Emma ThompsonFV35M31:1829:38
20446Louise WarnerFV35S32:4232:42
26462Susan DavisFV55S33:1233:12
30429Juliet PercivalFV45S33:2633:26
32410Elaine BissonFV35F33:2930:09
51458Sarah DaviesFV50S33:5633:56
56452Rachelle MasonFV35S34:0334:03
71451Rachael BullockFsenS34:1934:19
811249Zanna ClayFsenS34:2534:25
1021168Natalie BellFsenS35:0635:06
103395Anna BasuFV40S35:1035:10
129414Fiona ShentonFV55S35:5135:51
151449Nina MasonFV40S36:2336:23
152461Stef BarlowFV40S36:2436:24
156399Camilla Lauren-MaattaFV50S36:2836:28
169423Jenny SearchFV40S36:5836:58
220459Sarah FawcettFV55S39:0539:05
261466Victoria JacksonFV35S40:4340:43
268397Ashley Price-SabateFV40S41:0341:03
273420Jan YoungFV65S41:1241:12
276392Aileen ScottFV45S41:2041:20
322468Zoe Dewdney-ParsonsFV35S45:5645:56
332401Carol HolgateFV45S47:1747:17
men
posbibnamecatpackrace timeactual time
11764Sebatian Anthony (West SuffolkAC)MU20S36:2036:20
33518Mark WarnerMV35S41:1241:12
40546Stuart ScottMV35S41:3341:33
125523Michael LittlewoodMV40M43:4241:12
133508James LeeMV40S43:5143:51
170524Michael MasonMV40F44:3139:31
194503Geoff DavisMV60S44:5544:55
217532Phil RayMV35M45:2442:54
241510Jerry LloydMV50S45:4545:45
259506Jack LeeMsenM46:0543:35
277507James GarlandMV40M46:2743:57
342536Robert AllfreeMV40S48:4848:48
343517Mark PayneMV35S48:4848:48
345490Daniel MitchelMV40S48:5348:53
346483Andrew RaynerMsenS48:5448:54
363540Simon JeffersonMV40S49:3849:38
390522Michael HughesMV50S50:3350:33
423547Tim MatthewsMV50S52:0752:07
427533Philip ConnorMsenS52:1652:16
4381621John MetsonMV60S52:5252:52
440514Malcolm SygroveMV50S52:5552:55
459493David BrowbankMV35S54:2054:20
469481Andrew DaviesMV40S54:4854:48
472501Emil MaataMsenS54:5854:58
5131620David TothMV45S58:2658:26
524478Alan ScottMV50S59:2559:25
530542Stephen EllisMV60S61:0561:05
533479Alan SmithMV70S61:5761:57

Harrier League: Aykley Heads, Saturday, November 18, 2017

This Saturday is a major fixture in the Harrier League. The third fixture of the season will be held at Aykley Heads. The weather is forecast to be cold, bright and dry. It promises to be a good day.

Whether you’re racing, marshalling, watching or supporting, the following information should be useful.

Course map (thanks to Jules Percival)

Aykley Heads course map courtesy of Jules Percival

OpenStreetMap view (from marshalls walkthrough on 11th Nov)
Total distance: 2.2 mi
Max elevation: 312 ft
Min elevation: 210 ft
Total climbing: 230 ft
Total descent: -223 ft
Average speed: 22.35 min/mi
Total Time: 01:09:57
Download

To see this map with the marshall points marked have a look at this attackpoint map or this Google pdf map.

Note:The section between marshall points 4 and 5 is part of the race route only, and is not normally open to the public.

Race Parking is at Durham County Hall car park only. It’s free and only 400m from the start – please do not park anywhere else, please do not try to park closer to the course as you will be charged, or worse, and we could lose this venue! There will be plenty of parking for everybody at County Hall but please car share.

THERE IS RESTRICTED USE OF ONE SECTION OF THE CAR PARK THIS YEAR – ONLY THOSE INTENDING TO LEAVE BY 2.30PM MAY USE THIS SECTION SO PLEASE OBEY THE CAR PARK MARSHALS!

There is no parking in the DLI car park this year.

Officials Parking: This will be on the tennis courts adjacent to the new Police HQ. Go north from the County Hall roundabout on the B.6532, turn right at the next roundabout, straight over at the next roundabout & then follow the signs.

Tent drop off We have a tent drop off point adjacent to the course. Go north from the County Hall roundabout on the B.6532, turn right at the next roundabout, straight over at the next roundabout & then follow the signs. Only use this if your tent is very heavy! There is absolutely no parking for competitors here and it is not a drop off point for latecomers. Tents must be left with the tent drop off marshals and competitors return to County Hall to park.

Registration is adjacent to the course in the tented area (look out for Vicki’s big blue tent) – unless the weather is very bad and then it will be in County Hall reception area (Micky Baker to confirm).

Toilets are located in County Hall foyer and there will be portable toilets close to the race start area.

Do not enter County Hall in muddy shoes – they won’t let us come back next year if you do!

The course is walking distance from County Hall car park (follow the signs) & is on the former Durham Constabulary playing fields.

Directions to County Hall (postcode: DH1 5TP)

County Hall is a major landmark in Durham and many of you will already know where it is and how to get there. There are frequent trains to Durham from Newcastle and Darlington. The station is around half a mile from the venue. Please use public transport where possible!

If you must come by car then directions are as follows (please note that due to the Lumiere festival of light taking place in the city there may be traffic restrictions in place including eastbound lane closures on Millburngate Bridge.


Travelling south (e.g. from Newcastle):

Use the A.1m and turn off at Junction 62 (signposted for Durham & Sunderland). At the top of the slip road turn right at the roundabout joining the A.690 into Durham. At the next roundabout (where the dual carriageway ends) stay on the A.690 & follow signs to City Centre & Consett (straight over). At the next roundabout stay on the A.690 & follow signs for Crook, Consett & County Hall (straight over – but get in the outside lane). At the next traffic lights turn right signposted for Consett, Chester-Le- St & County Hall. Turn right at the next roundabout into County Hall – you’ve arrived!

Travelling north (e.g. from Darlington):
Use the A.1m and turn off at Junction 62 (signposted for Durham & Sunderland). At the top of the slip road turn left at the roundabout joining the A.690 into Durham. At the next roundabout (where the dual carriageway ends) stay on the A.690 & follow signs to City Centre & Consett (straight over). At the next roundabout stay on the A.690 & follow signs for Crook, Consett & County Hall (straight over – but get in the outside lane). At the next traffic lights turn right signposted for Consett, Chester-Le- St & County Hall. Turn right at the next roundabout into County Hall – you’ve arrived!

Travelling west (e.g. from Sunderland):
Use the A.690 from Sunderland or from the A.19 for Durham. At the junction of the A.690 and A.1m go straight over staying on the A.690 into Durham. At the next roundabout (where the dual carriageway ends) stay on the A.690 & follow signs to City Centre & Consett (straight over). At the next roundabout stay on the A.690 & follow signs for Crook, Consett & County Hall (straight over – but get in the outside lane). At the next traffic lights turn right signposted for Consett, Chester-Le- St & County Hall. Turn right at the next roundabout into County Hall – you’ve arrived!

Travelling East (e.g. from Crook):
Use the A.690 from Crook to Durham. At the Neville’s Cross traffic lights turn left onto the A.167. At the first roundabout turn right (4th exit) following signs for City Centre. At the next roundabout go straight over. At the next roundabout go straight over into County Hall – you’ve arrived!

Sherman Cup & Davison Shield, Temple Park, Saturday, October 28, 2017

results

Ladies group photo. photo by Carla Clark

women
posbibnamecatpacktime
11214Amelia Pettitt (Newcastle University)FsenM22:51
58413Fiona JonesFV40M28:36
86462Susan DavisFV55S29:38
91458Sarah DaviesFV50S29:50
961168Natalie BellFsenS30:02
116414Fiona ShentonFV55S30:41
121436Katy WaltonFV35S30:53
125442Lesley HamillFV40S30:58
141461Stef BarlowFV40S31:29
158434Kathryn RogersFsenS32:06
159449Nina MasonFV40S32:07
166422Jean BradleyFV60S32:19
188430Karen ByngFV45S32:50
206459Sarah FawcettFV55S33:22
224427Joanne PorterFV45S33:51
240426Joanne PattersonFV35S34:30
290419Jan EllisFV55S36:41
315453Rebecca DoddFsenS38:32
328437Kerry BarnettFV45S40:09

a few of the Men's team after the race. Photo by Kerry Barnett.

men
posbibnamecatpacktime
1865Carl Avery (Morpeth Harriers & AC)MsenM29:21
69485Chris CallanMV35M35:30
85546Stuart ScottMV35S36:26
105520Matthew ArcherMV35M37:21
267487Conrad WhiteMV60S42:28
268498David LumsdonMV50S42:30
271525Mike BarlowMV40S42:39
295534Richard HockinMV65S43:14
322505Graeme WaltonMV45S44:17
328511Jonathan HamillMV40S44:29
329481Andrew DaviesMV40S44:38
345533Philip ConnorMsenS45:14
354513Lindsay RodgersMV45S45:45
382486Chris ShearsmithMV40S47:33
403499Dougie NisbetMV50S49:22
424542Stephen EllisMV60S52:32
426484Andrew ThurstonMV60S53:01

Dark Skies Run, Galloway Forest, Saturday, October 21, 2017

29 miles

Dougie Nisbet

You've got until 23:59 ...I looked at the ticket machine and realised that, strictly speaking, I might be overstaying my allotted time. But if anyone was going to be checking the tickets after midnight for parking outlaws then good luck to them.

The weather forecast wasn’t great. It wasn’t too bad at the moment and having a nice warm cafe to sit inside and drink coffee while waiting for things to get underway was a big boost. Time ticked on and I kept looking to sThis looks like Race HQee whether any other Striders had checked in. I was feeling a bit nervy as I hadn’t undertaken any sort of structured training for this race and I wasn’t sure how I was going to get on. A cold that had suddenly said Hello two days earlier was another complication. But on the whole I didn’t feel too bad. But it’s not how you feel sitting in a warm cafe drinking coffee that’s important, it’s how you feel when you’re out on your own, in the dark, miles from anywhere.

The course was advertised as well marked but I’d studied it hard anyway so that I knew the checkpoints and my drop-out options. I don’t have any hangups about abandoning a race. And the more expensive the race, the fewer the hangups. I reckoned if I was going to drop out, it’d be in the first few miles. I’d know by then whether it was a bad idea,  and I’d simply turn round and head back to the cafe.

The Strider ArrivalDespite having a lot of experience running a lot of weird races in all weathers I always go through a strange panicky ritual about what I’m wearing for any particular race. I look around at the other runners and often interrogate people on what they’re wearing and why. There was more purple in the cafe now and I realised I was the only one who seemed to be seriously considering wearing overtrousers from the Start. A warm wet night looked on the cards so no point in making it a boil-in-the-bag event.

I’ve always wanted to race at night and as we went outside for the race briefing I began to feel more upbeat. It was still light, and still dry, so the head torches wouldn’t be needed for another hour or two. I wondered where to keep my head torch until then, and eventually decided that I might  as well keep it on my head. This curiously enough was not the favoured option. Most runners kept their headtorches hidden away but I reasoned I had to carry the thing anyway, so I might as well carry it somewhere handy.

The great thing about Ultras is that the starts are usually quite civilised. There’s no elbowing to get to the front as there’s no point going off as if you were doing a 5k. We’d be out for hours. Looking around at the briefing I reckoned there were only about 30 of us so it promised to be quite a small, cosy, and probably quite lonely field. A few of us were disconcerted to hear that there would a strict cut-off around the 6 mile mark. The other side of a remote bog that, given the recent rain, was likely to be on the very boggy side of boggy. I’m not keen on strict cut-offs, especially in the early stages of a race. It can take me a few hours to feel like I’m warmed up and an early cut-off can be a bit of stress that I can do without.

The sun dips down below Cairnsmore of FleetWe left the warm of the Kirroughtree Visitor Centre and for the first few miles surfaces were good. Then up and onto the moor and east under the shadow of the wonderfully named Door of Cairnsmore. The sun was dipping and the sky was dry, treating us to an eerily tranquil scene as we trudged, walked and  occasionally jogged into the fading light. I was with Kerry & Co. settled in front of the sweeper and we were checking the time nervously in case we were cutting it too fine. The warning about the strict cut-off had spooked us a little and we would all feel a bit happier when that first checkpoint was ticked.

The path, such as it was, dipped down and I jogged on a bit to join up with Catherine and Gareth before presently we came to a raging burn that probably only a day or two earlier was a pathetic trickle. Still, it was a raging burn today, and as it was today we were wishing to be on the other side of it, its ragingness was a bit of a pain. We all took our chances on various wobbly crossing points that all turned out to be deeper and faster than they pretended to be.

Down from the moor and into the forest and good paths. First checkpoint ticked off, and for the first time since the race started we were on decent runnable tracks. I switched on my head-torch and started running.

What I like about Ultras, and of getting more experienced at running Ultras, is that you get better and better and knowing your pace. You need to settle into a pace that you feel like you could run all day (or night), then you can switch off and step inside your head and listen to some music or recite poetry or write race reports or something. Monteleone by Mark Knopfler usually jumps uninvited into my head during long runs, and stays there for hours. Generally that works out ok as it’s a good tune with a nice gentle running cadence that suits me, but I’m dreading the day that I stop liking it and it won’t go away.

Another thing I’ve learned about ultras is the importance of walking. It’s a discipline I’d practised for Comrades and it has now become second nature. Walk the hills, and run the flats and downs. It’s tempting to run the ascents especially if you feel the gas is in the tank to do so, but it’s far more important to conserve that energy for later on when it’ll be far more useful.

One man and his headtorchThe second checkpoint came along pretty quickly and we turned north. The section towards  Clatteringshaws Loch had lots of long steady climbs on good forest tracks and I settled into a  comfortable, hard walking pace. I’d been on my own for an hour or two now and occasionally I would look around for other lights. At one point I became aware of a headtorch or two that seemed to close on me quite rapidly before fading again, and eventually I reasoned that it must have been mountain bikes as the lights seemed quite low and the  speeds erratic. Then they disappeared altogether even though we hadn’t passed any junctions. Perhaps I was just going mad.

This was the first time I’d used my headtorch in anger in a race at night. It’s a Petzl Nao and generally I’ve found it to be the canine’s nadgers. I was unsure how long the battery would last though. About 6 hours according to the manual, but I brought a spare battery pack just in case. And a spare headtorch, to use so I could see what I was doing when I had to change the battery pack. The Nao is a reactive headtorch that senses and auto-adjusts depending on where it’s pointing, what it’s seeing, and how much light it feels like giving  you. So I could look far up the road and it would easily pick out the high-viz course markers that were now so familiar to me.

the light that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and my Petzl Nao was burning very very brightlyStill, the light that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and my Petzl Nao was burning very very brightly. After just two hours of use and as I approached the Clatteringshaws checkpoint, it started doing the flashy flashy thing to tell me it had had enough. This was a little alarming I thought, as I changed the battery pack. Not even close to what the manual suggested I should expect. And I definitely had it on the auto reactive setting rather on full afterburner. Assuming I got the same amount of light from the spare battery pack then I should expect to be plunged into darkness with some distance to go to the finish.

I decided to worry about that if it happened. Perhaps the spare battery would be better than the main battery. Or perhaps I would be a lot faster from now on. As I left the Clatteringshaws CP the marshalls warned me that after a few hundred yards the course turned right away from the main A712. Sure enough, this is exactly what happened, but you had to keep an eye out for the flags otherwise it’d be quite easy to settle on the main road and miss out on all the wonderful wetness of the higher Old Edinburgh Road.

I was pretty settled now having found my pace and was really enjoying the run. The fact that it wasn’t cold made a big difference. Even the frequent rainy squalls were quite surreal as I zipped up my hood, and looked ahead along the bright cone of light from my Petzl. There was some pretty varied terrain for the next few miles; flooded rocky paths, mud, bracken, paths and tracks, and all the time you had to concentrate, peering ahead picking out the high-viz flags like the welcome cats-eyes on a quiet country road.

We’d been warned that one of the checkpoints would involve wading across a fast-moving burn hanging onto a tree trunk for support while reaching out for the beckoning hand of a marshall leaning out to grab runners. So I couldn’t say I wasn’t warned when I found myself up to my knees in a torrent of water, hanging onto a nice bit of Sitka Spruce (deceased), and reaching out hopefully for the guiding hand of a marshall as I eased past this sting in the Grey Mare’s Tail.

Things got slightly less exciting from this point on, although I think it may have been somewhere around here that Anna decided to go off-piste. Deciding that 29.1 was a really untidy number and something in the 30s would sound a lot better she added a few miles on. A bit like running round Palace Green a few times with an eye on the garmin, but with more trees and fewer cathedrals. I don’t know if Vicky Brown had a similar blip in the 14.

I’d passed another couple of runners at the checkpoint but apart from them I hadn’t seen many runners on my travels. After the bumpy and quirky section along the Old Edinburgh Road from Clatteringshaws the route settled down onto good surfaces and more long, steady climbs on a gentle south-westerley sweep.

On I contentedly ran, passing Murray’s Monument somewhere on my left, although Murray and myself were both blissfully unaware of this. It must have been off to the left somewhere, asleep for the night in its invisibility cloak. The forest road continued to provide a good runnable surface until two bright lights appeared ahead. I assumed this was a checkpoint, at which point I’d swing a hard left then there’d be a couple of hairpins before heading home. I assumed that it was headlights, from a car. But when you’ve been out for several ours in the rain and dark, you start to assume that it’s Close Encounters, or perhaps an FBI SWAT team, you know, out here, in the remote Scottish hills.

It wasn’t a check point, it was a ‘radio guy’. Doing radio stuff. Wondering how many people were still after me. I was sorry to break it to him, but I was, surprisingly for me, pretty much mid-field, so he had a bit of wait yet. I jinxed left, then right, then down to the final checkpoint on the main road. I asked how much further it was and he joked that it was another 6 miles. I was running Garmin free so was none the wiser and just shrugged. That sounded fine. 3, 6, 9 whatever. I was fine. I was enjoying the dark. I felt pleasantly lost in time, and space, and meaning.

I hung around this checkpoint for a bit chatting to the marshalls as they were having a bit of a time of it all. I was now on the half-marathon route too and it seemed runners had been appearing from a bewildering number of directions, some of them correct. I was
surprised to hear this as I couldn’t fault the route-marking and said so. I had a few more jelly beans, adjusted my head-torch, and when they were distracted by some radio chatter I took my leave.

West along the road for a few yards then a hard left for the final few miles to the Finish. My head torch decided that was enough for the day and started flashing in alarm. I tried to switch to a sort of ‘economy’ mode, but it still flashed. It really wasn’t happy. So I fished out my emergency spare head torch, the one I’d only packed so I could see what I was doing when I was changing the battery on my main one, and switched it on. The Petzl Tikka XP2 is a pretty decent head torch, but after several hours of the Nao, it was looking a bit feeble. I had to concentrate to pick out the course-marking flags and even though they were there if you looked, I began to see how it’d be possible to go for a wander if you weren’t concentrating on looking out for the flags.

The last mile or two seemed very long indeed, and in the last mile, feeling slightly disoriented, I stopped to check my position to find that the finish was, indeed, just round the next corner. I jogged to the line and applause, with no idea of how long I’d been out. I soon discovered it was a fair bit longer than I’d expected or thought it to be and I was way overdue for my booked meal. Luckily for me and many other runners, Sofia from the Cafe at Kirroughtree kept things open way beyond closing time and I soon found myself sitting down having a hot meal and coffee in the warm indoors watch the cold outdoors through the glass.

I couldn’t see Anna which puzzled me as she’d gone of like a rocket at the start, but I soon recognized Gareth and Catherine crossing the finish line. They were soon tucking into some supper and I began to feel uneasy about the lateness of the hour. Roberta would’ve been expecting me back at the hotel by now, and cellphone coverage at race HQ was pretty hit or miss. Luckily the cafe allowed me (very brief) access to their landline (it being the emergency contact number) to make a quick call and I felt bad when Roberta gave an alarmed Hello! as she answered the phone. Seeing a strange phone number appearing on you cellphone in the middle of the night is quite likely to make you think Something Bad has Happened.

Gareth and Catherine turn off their headtorches to watch C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser GateI hung around for a while more, gradually settling down to earth after nearly 7 hours out in a slightly surreal world. We had got our dark skies as it happened. For a brief time the sky had cleared and Gareth and Catherine had turned off their headtorches to watch C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. I had wanted to wait for Kerry and Co. to finish, and I would only discover later that Anna had gone off course and would be finishing with Kerry too. But I was cold now, and while Gareth and Catherine jumped in the shower, I jumped in the car for the short drive back to the hotel.

You can never carry too many headtorches.This was my first night-time race and I loved it. A small field meant that for hours on end I didn’t see another soul. The isolation was quite spooky at times but on the whole it was quite relaxing. Relaxing until the head-torch starts flashing to tell me the battery is giving up. I need to give some thought to batteries. You wouldn’t have wanted to be out in the dark skies without a light.

Lakes in a Day, Saturday, October 7, 2017

50 mile ultra run from Caldbeck to Cartmel

Penny Browell

Four years ago exactly I ran my first marathon at Kielder. It didn’t end well – yes I got the sub 4 I wanted but due to poor clothing and fueling I ended up needing medical attention as soon as I crossed the finishing line. When I finally came round I swore to myself never to attempt such a stupid distance again…

So this weekend I find myself embarking on Lakes in a Day, a 50 mile race from the North to South of the Lake District wondering how I got here. I’m not an ultra runner. Indeed I still haven’t learnt how to pace a marathon properly. But I do love the Lake District and as soon as I saw this race advertised I knew I had to give it a shot.

The week of the race arrived and the forecast was terrible. Rain, gales, more rain, no visibility… the optimist in me was sure the met office would change their mind. They did – by Friday they were saying bits of rain, maybe some wind on the peaks but not as bad as it could have been. Saturday morning at 430am my alarm woke me and I was happy not to hear rain outside the window of my quirky airbnb in Cartmel. Maybe we were going to be ok….

The race started at 8 from Oddfellows Pub in Caldbeck. Everything about this race is impeccably organised – the pub staff were amazing providing teas, coffees and bacon sandwiches and we all chatted excitedly before James Thurlow, the fabulous race organizer sent us on our way. As we set off to the first climb we discussed how lucky we were with the weather in comparison with the forecasts earlier in the week… we would live to regret these comments!

It is very much a race of two halves. The first half tough fell racing – a lot of it open fell and on difficult terrain, the second half less mountainous and more on tracks or moorland. This was its fourth year and on every previous occasion it has been dry and clear – within a mile or two of leaving Caldbeck it became obvious this year wouldn’t be the same. The waterproofs were coming out as we entered the cloud and began the climb up High Pike. Visibility was getting worse, winds were increasing and the rain was coming at us horizontally. This was to be the theme throughout all of the fell section. No views, no grip on either slippy rocks or slippy grass/mud and for me no feeling in my fingers so no access to drink, food or maps! In spite of this I loved it. The route takes you up Blencathra at which point there is a decision between Halls Fell Ridge (hard in any conditions) and Blease Fell (easier but 2 miles longer). Coming up Mungrisdale Common was so bad with winds apparently up to 50 mph, I decided I should probably put my kids first and try to avoid death but when I saw others taking Halls Fell I couldn’t resist. This was the only place on the route with event support. They advised us to take it easy – I’m not sure anyone could go anything other than easy on this. It was terrifying but brilliant. From race reports     I’ve read I now know quite a few people got stuck and needed help. And quite a few were more sensible and took Blease Fell… Somehow I got through it and by 11am was back down in Threlkeld at the first of three truly amazing feed stations. The crew were incredible – couldn’t do enough to help us and the food was definitely chosen by fell runners. Anything you could possibly want was there. As I was only 3 hours in I stuck to tea, coke, fruit and a few crisps.

The next section was without doubt going to be the hardest and longest as it took us from Threlkeld to Ambleside via amazing peaks such as Helvellyn and Fairfield. I’ve run most of this section at least a couple of times so I knew how hard it was even on a good day but also felt fairly confident of knowing the route. Unfortunately the mountains don’t look the same in cloud and rain so I did have a few mishaps route-wise firstly after Helvellyn where a few of us started heading off down to Thirlmere but fortunately realized our mistake fairly quickly. The descent to Grisedale tarn was tough – the rock path was way too slippy to contemplate so most of us took the grass option which although better in some ways did mean more concentrating to avoid accidents on hidden rocks or losing a foot into bog. On the positive side it was a bit clearer and calmer down at the tarn but I knew the worst bit was coming. I don’t like climbing Fairfield. It’s a long drag and after 23 miles and nearly 7 hours it was never going to be fun. The battering rain didn’t help and I was really getting quite cold and hungry but with numb fingers and no wish to stop there was no way I was going to get anything out of my bag to eat. So up I plodded…. And plodded…

When I eventually reached the top I was so happy I broke into a little run and immediately fell flat on my face. I was slightly winded and lost my companions and headed off following someone without really thinking about where I should be going. Climbing down some tough rocks I fell again, slid down on my bum and ended up sitting at the bottom of a rock quite nicely sheltered. I decided it was time to give my body a break, grabbed a bag of crisps out of the side of my bag and quite happily chomped on them waiting for the next runner to come by so I could pair up with them. Sadly the next runner didn’t come.. and didn’t come.. and it became obvious I wasn’t actually on the race route. No worries, I had a GPS tracker safely tucked away in my bag so I could use that to get me back on course. Out of the plastic bag, click it on and it happily told me I was still in Caldbeck. No matter what I did or said to it, it just didn’t believe that I had left the start… [You can get a tracker replay on the Opentracking website. ^DN]

I was just starting to get a tad worried when a runner appeared. Possibly not a bright runner (he’d gone wrong too) but someone to tag onto. He was convinced we were on the right route but I managed to persuade him we probably needed to head up and left to meet up with the other racers. Eventually we were back on track. The run down into Ambleside (over several peaks on the way) was very boggy and much slower than when I’d recce’d it but seeing the town gradually get closer spurred us all on.

So feed station two and I was about 9.5 hours in. The longest I’d ever been out running and the furthest I’d ever run in the Lakes (and not far off my distance PB of 50k prior to today).Before the start I’d told myself I could stop here but there was no way that was happening. The sun was finally creeping through and I’d been fed pasta and flat coke and was ready to face the world. This was the also the point where we were allowed to change shoes so my sodden x-talons came off and were replaced with nice dry trail shoes. I felt ready to set off on the second half…

So off we went on the next leg. This section is mainly along the coast of Windermere but with a few climbs including Claife Heights and Rawlinson Nab. Leaving Ambleside the horrors of the first half seemed like a bad dream. The sun was breaking through and the views were lovely as we followed the road down to the lakeside. So this half was actually definitely going to be fine… Once we were off-road it became apparent that it wasn’t going to be quite as simple as I’d hoped. Knee deep mud and puddles the size of a swimming pool faced us to ensure there was no rhythm to be gained. But it was fun – the views along the lakeside were stunning and although there were climbs there was nothing too difficult and the route was now easy to follow with arrows provided for the entire second half. As we went through the village of Sowry I realized the sun was about to disappear and there was still a way to go before the last feed station. I stopped to get my headtorch out only to discover the batteries had died. Thankfully Alex, a much more organized and experienced runner, was with me and kindly lent me his spare torch. Being a spare it was pretty weak so visbility was going to be poor for the next section. I stuck with Alex and his much more powerful torch to Finsthwaite. As the sun went down an enormous moon emerged and in spite of the mud, roots and other hazards I really enjoyed this section.

At the final feed station we were met with soup, rice pudding and more coke and tea. Looking back on the day I suspect I was high on caffeine for a lot of it! We watched a big screen which showed the trackers and we were impressed to see that several runners had already finished. But even more impressed to see that some were still going on Fairfield. It was now 930pm and they were doing that impossible open fell section in pitch dark. Many of them went on to finish in the early hours of Sunday. Massive respect to them.

After 15 minutes or so and with my headtorch now fixed it became apparent the last 8 miles were not going to run themselves so I left the warmth of the hall and set off, commenting to my fellow runners that this was likely to be quite a long 8 miles. It certainly was. The route for this section was across boggy fields and up and down woodland paths. Although it was hard I was actually enjoying myself – it was a lovely night and I now knew I was going to succeed.

The race finishes with a couple of miles of road. By the time this finally appeared I had passed a few people since Finsthwaite and running up and down the road to Cartmel I somehow found a bit of pace and managed to overtake a few more. Looking back I have no idea what was going on. I was finishing this race fresher and less tired than most marathons or half marathons!

Cartmel Priory School finally appeared and I crossed the line in 15 hours and 7 minutes. 53 miles done, over 4000 metres of climbing, 9th lady and a day I would never forget. I grabbed the race director and gushed about what a great race it was. He thought I was mad – the conditions had been awful how had I enjoyed it?! I don’t know but all I can say was that as I sat eating a baked potato with cheese and beans and talked to other fellow ultra runners I felt absolutely on top of the world. After a year with more than its fair share of lows this race meant so much to me for so many reasons. I will definitely be back. But next year I’m ordering better weather…

There are many videos and much better report on Facebook group runitinaday.

Kielder Run Bike Run, Thursday, September 7, 2017

Marathon (11km run, 25km bike, 6km run)

Dougie Nisbet

Earlier in the year a work colleague asked me if I was doing the Kielder duathlon. I knew nothing about it but the more I read the more I liked. A marathon distance duathlon with split transitions and an entirely off-road bike section. I signed up, told Sara that I’d beat her even on my old mountain bike, and forgot all about it.

Fast forward several months and I no longer work at BALTIC so it was a bit a re-union when we met up again and I discovered my manager Dave Coxon had signed up too. Although we had no plan to rendezvous at the event we found ourselves parking our bikes in the transition area at Kielder Village before finding the coach to take us the few miles to the Start at Leaplish. We found 3 seats and were jostled on our short journey like excited kids on a school trip.

I knew the Run Bike Run event started at the same place and time as the 10K. What I didn’t know was how the organisers planned to do that. In the end it transpired that the RBR competitors had to shove their way through the 10K competitors to get to the start line. I saw several Strider vests on my travels but I was wearing a cycling top that I hoped would be versatile enough to get me through the run and bike stages. I guessed it might be too hot for running, too cool for the bike.

The logistics had puzzled me. I’ve done very few duathlons, and none that had split transitions. We were allocated something called a bike box, and this would be waiting with our bike at T1. In here we had to put anything we thought we would need for the bike section. For many of us this was cycling shoes but many chose to ride in their running shoes. It turned out not to be nearly as complicated as I’d made it and the bike box would be magically transported to T2 at Bull Crag for the beginning of the second run leg.

A slightly delayed start due to waiting for late competitors to be bussed from Kielder village and away we went, doubling back on ourselves for the 11km run to T1. I had to remind myself that this was quite a long event and that I needed to pace the 11k carefully. Into transition and straight to the bike. I realised the grass was soaking so I executed an undignified ballet while I tried to change shoes – hopping on one foot so that I wouldn’t get my feet wet and grateful for my decision to use elastic laces in both sets of shoes. It wasn’t a lightning fast transition but it wasn’t too shabby either, and soon I was wheeling my bike out for the 25km ride to Bull Crag.

I was looking forward to the bike section. I’d ridden a couple of hilly sportives already this year and although not particularly fit or fast I was expecting to be comfortable and do well on this bit. I was in for a surprise. An 85 mile hilly sportive on a road bike is an entirely different beast to a 25km bike ride on a mountain bike. I’d forgotten how up and downy the Kielder lakeside path is.

After attacking the first hill and storming down the other side I was soon reviewing the situation. I realised that this was going to be hard. It was impossible to get into any rhythm and I was spending a surprising amount of time in my smallest granny gears before hurtling down the descent trying to catch my breath. The dam gave some respite but it was hard to pick up too much speed on the thick mountain bike tyres. As we turned away from the dam to head for Bull Crag I discovered, to my surprise, that I was quite looking forward to the end of the bike section and to running again.

Transition 2 at Bull Crag was quite elegant. A long horseshoe where we entered at one end and were ejected at the other. Of course, none of the competitors had seen Transition 2 before so we didn’t know where our bike box would be. But this wasn’t a problem as the marshalls had read our numbers as we approached and were directing us as we tumbled into transition. I always have to remind myself that the clock is still ticking in transition – it’s still real time although it feels like it isn’t. So I was back in my running shoes as quickly
as possible then jogging round the horseshoe before out of transition for the last 6km or so.

They were a long 6km, twisty and hilly, and my legs felt like they’d done a marathon even if 25km of it had been sitting down. I settled down to a steady jog and had no illusions of trying to hit the finish at speed. There was good crowd support in these last few kms and a buzzy finish that I remember from having done the Kielder Marathon. Across the line and No I didn’t want a banana, I just wanted to sit down.

Dave had been in for about 15 minutes and Sara arrived not long after me. The results showed Sara had belted round the bike section a fair bit faster than me and if it hadn’t been for her slower transitions and runs our overall finishing positions could easily have been reversed.

This was a good race and I enjoyed it. I thought as we hit a brief squall on the bike section that if the weather had been unkind the bike section could easily be a serious trial. The split transitions, lakeside route and marathon distance bring an elegance to the course that I liked a lot. I definitely underestimated how hard the bike section would be, but it was great fun hurtling down the fast descents and negotiating the twists and turns.

CTS North York Moors ultra marathon, Saturday, September 30, 2017

33.6 miles / 4227 feet

Emma Backhouse

So a summer of training, two weeks of tapering and a week of self-doubt had come to this… my first entry into the mad world of ultrarunning at the endurance life CTS North York Moors ultra marathon. Surrounded by professional-looking lithe runners, I nervously made my way across a freezing (literally, a balmy 10 degrees in Durham had fallen to 3 in Ravenscar) field to collect my number, receive my timing tag and be given my t-shirt. Should I just leg it and tell everyone there was no medal and the t-shirt was the prize? Three loo trips later and suddenly briefing was upon us and it became apparent that numerous runners had come from London to do this thing…. I was feeling more and more out of my depth, and I was beginning to doubt not only my ability to finish but even my ability to run at all. The high place finish at the recent Clennell marathon must have been a fluke. Complex instructions (do not follow the 10k signs! Do not follow the half signs!) were issued and for the first time I saw doubt on my fellow runners’ faces. We had numerous loops to navigate, not least a final one, past the finish with the last 7 miles following the 10k route. Thankfully we were offered one final loo trip before a super quick countdown and then we were off!

As expected, being a snail, I was overtaken by nearly everyone, immediately. Race plan screaming in my head “stay calm, stay slow, you are a metronome” I tried not to let it upset me, but on a single track, covered in mud, hearing people tut and puff behind you and with few places to stop and let them pass it did become demoralising. However, within a few miles, we were spread out, alone, left to our own devices, facing the distance in our own ways. At 11 miles, the marathon leaders (who set off around an hour behind us) started to overtake us. They were fast, but friendly, glad to hear of their position. By this point I was beginning to believe that as long as I could hear the miles tick by the challenge would be completed.

I came through the finish for the first time at around 14 miles, heading towards boggle hole and Robin Hood’s Bay. It was here that we met the half marathoners on a different route. The terrain became more challenging with steeper hills and seeming more like the trail marathon I had done in the summer. I slowed to a walk…. knowing walking was necessary if the distance was to be done.

Miles ticked on, passing and passed by marathoners and halfers, although there were few ultras to be seen. A long moorland hill ended in a big muddy puddle miscalculation and one trainer would be significantly heavier for the remainder of the run. The “one mile to go sign” came into view and I could sense the anticipation from those around me. As we approached the finish, I was directed away from the funnel, heartbreakingly and had to stop. At this point, a distance pb was starting to result in nutritional issues. Needing something, I looked around for my support crew (chowing down on ice cream in the local cafe I later found out!) hoping they could get me the coke that was in the car. The cp only had water and with too much being drunk and no food being taken on, my stomach had started to complain. Loudly. Another ultrarunner was also waiting, desperately and eventually we both gave up, smiled at the poor marshal directing us away from the finish and headed on the lonesome 10k route. 2 miles in, the wheels, axle, doors and roof fell off and I limped into CP 5 an unknown distance later. Smiley faces and “less than a parkrun to go!!!” They sent me off and with a walk/run strategy along the railway line I came into the finish for the third and final time as fourth lady.

7 hours and twenty odd minutes. 35 miles by my garmin. Still getting over it but signing up for the Northumberland one at the end of February.

Harrier League, Sunday, October 8, 2017

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

results

women

posbibnamecatpackrace timeactual time
1644Emma HoltFsenF27:5524:35
50462Susan DavisFV55S31:2631:26
63452Rachelle MasonFV35S31:5131:51
85458Sarah DaviesFV50S32:1932:19
94451Rachael BullockFsenS32:4032:40
119436Katy WaltonFV35S33:3433:34
142422Jean BradleyFV60S34:0434:04
150461Stef BarlowFV40S34:2634:26
151449Nina MasonFV40S34:2834:28
178459Sarah FawcettFV55S35:2235:22
184396Anna SeeleyFV35S35:3635:36
209394Anita WrightFV55S36:3136:31
214402Catherine SmithFV40S36:4336:43
226466Victoria JacksonFV35S37:2037:20
234427Joanne PorterFV45S37:3537:35
253420Jan YoungFV65S38:0738:07
288393Anita ClementsonFV45S40:1340:13
3271192George Nicholsonn/cS43:1643:16
men


posbibnamecatpackrace timeactual time
11200Luke Adams (South Shields Harriers)MsenS34:3034:30
23543Stephen JacksonMsenF39:0534:05
41506Jack LeeMsenS40:0040:00
62509Jason Hardingn/cM40:3837:38
82519Matt ClaydonMV40S41:0141:01
114529Paul EvansMV35S41:3441:34
132521Michael AndersonMsenS41:5141:51
144524Michael MasonMV40F42:0337:03
226503Geoff DavisMV60S43:3343:33
229532Phil RayMV35M43:3540:35
230538Scott WatsonMV55M43:3640:36
270496David GibsonMV50S44:3344:33
330548Timothy SkeltonMV35S45:5745:57
368525Mike BarlowMV40S46:5346:53
369534Richard HockinMV65S46:5446:54
379536Robert AllfreeMV40S47:1247:12
404514Malcolm SygroveMV50S48:1048:10
4241621John MetsonMV60S48:5148:51
427547Tim MatthewsMV50S48:5748:57
428481Andrew DaviesMV40S48:5948:59
451513Lindsay RodgersMV45S49:5449:54
481526Mike BennettMV60S51:4151:41
489501Emil MaataMsenS52:0252:02
5211620David TothMV45S55:2555:25

Loch Ness Marathon, Sunday, September 24, 2017

Nina Mason

At the start of 2017 my resolution was to try and regain my running ‘bug’ – the last few years had seen this fade (not to mention my fitness). I needed a challenge to help me stick to any sort of training plan, so I entered the Swaledale Marathon – giving me six months to prep with the aim of getting round.

It was all going reasonably well during the spring, and I started thinking about what came after June….I needed something to keep my momentum going. We were planning a week in Scotland in September, and I spotted the Loch Ness Marathon. The only other road marathon I had done was London in 1998, and I thought it would be ‘interesting’ to give one a go. Race reports were favourable – perfect. Race entered.

Swaledale came and went and I felt like I was enjoying running again. I had this foolish idea that if I could do 23 up and down in the rain and the mud, 26 on the road couldn’t be that bad…..could it?

September arrived and found me in the Highlands. The start was beautiful, up on the hills (no sign of the Loch until about 6 miles); the first few miles downhill overall but with some ‘pulls’ (reminded me a little of Dent); the support was superb, every house and village we ran through people were out cheering, handing out sweets; and the event organisation brilliant. And yes, stunning scenery.

As for my race – torturous. A fast-ish first 6 miles (I tried unsuccessfully to slow it down); a decent half-Marathon split, then an utter slog for the next 13 miles. I don’t feel that I would have got round more quickly/easily with better pacing – more training perhaps! Do I mention I finished behind someone dressed as Nessie? But I got round (and had a fab week away).

As we all invariably do, I look back to try and benefit from any insights I may have gleaned from the whole experience:

  • if road marathons are your ‘thing’ then I heartily recommend the Loch Ness Marathon, it’s a superb event.
  • I have ultimate respect for anyone that runs this distance, in whatever time; it’s a LONG way, and a long time to ignore that little devil in your head telling you ‘just stop and the pain will end’
  • the huge blow-up Nessie, chip-timing, and a finish with crowds and a ‘proper’ clock almost won me over…..almost. But I prefer those events where despite being nowhere near the ‘sharp end’ I still have the chance of winning a bottle of wine just because of who turned up on the day!
  • long roads….not my thing. Give me so much mud it sucks at your shoes, lung-bursting, thigh-burning uphills, trying to get my breath as I fumble with a gate latch, eye-watering ‘don’t fall! don’t fall! don’t fall!’ tumbling downhill over heather, roots, bog, stone…..

So – an experience, and reaffirmed what I enjoy about running. For now, Swaledale remains my favourite race, and I may try to get some fell races in (and for now, focus on XC!). For what it’s worth, I got a new marathon PB (beat my ‘98 London time by 25 min) but I won’t be planning to better that anytime soon….not for another 19 years anyway…..

Harrier League, Wrekenton, Saturday, September 30, 2017

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

results

women
posbibnamecatpackrace timeactual time
1644Emma Holt (Morpeth Harriers & AC)FsenF26:0823:08
5412Emma ThompsonFV35S26:2926:29
39413Fiona JonesFV40S28:4428:44
42410Elaine BissonFV35M28:4827:18
50417Helen TonesFV40S29:0629:06
61450Penny BrowellFV45F29:2626:26
80462Susan DavisFV55S29:5129:51
137436Katy WaltonFV35S31:2031:20
164464Tasmin ImberFV40F32:0529:05
179442Lesley HamillFV40S32:2932:29
199434Kathryn RogersFsenS32:5032:50
206422Jean BradleyFV60S33:0033:00
210461Stef BarlowFV40S33:0933:09
232459Sarah FawcettFV55S33:4133:41
272420Jan YoungFV65S34:4034:40
297426Joanne PattersonFV35S35:2635:26
302457Sam AskeyFV40S35:3735:37
303402Catherine SmithFV40S35:3835:38
319427Joanne PorterFV45S36:0936:09
331467Wendy LittlewoodFV35S36:3636:36
363453Rebecca DoddFsenS38:1638:16
387400Carla ClarkeFV40S39:1539:15
423418Helen WilkesFV35S41:4241:42
433437Kerry BarnettFV45S42:4842:48
455428Joanne RichardsonFV40S48:4848:48
men
posbibnamecatpackrace timeactual time
171Kurt Heron (Ashington Hirst)MsenS31:4831:48
15485Chris CallanMV35S34:5834:58
27523Michael LittlewoodMV40S35:3535:35
46543Stephen JacksonMsenF36:3931:59
90506Jack LeeMsenS37:5737:57
112519Matt ClaydonMV40S38:2038:20
125521Michael AndersonMsenS38:4038:40
127508James LeeMV40S38:4138:41
158529Paul EvansMV35S39:1339:13
169524Michael MasonMV40F39:2434:44
236496David GibsonMV50S40:3640:36
238503Geoff DavisMV60S40:3740:37
243545Stuart OrdMsenS40:4240:42
246538Scott WatsonMV55M40:4638:26
258507James GarlandMV40M40:5838:38
267532Phil RayMV35M41:0738:47
339490Daniel MitchelMV40S43:0843:08
351492Dave HalliganMV55S43:2743:27
357477Aaron GourleyMV35S43:3743:37
366536Robert AllfreeMV40S44:0044:00
369535Richard PodmoreMV35S44:0544:05
389525Mike BarlowMV40S44:3744:37
420534Richard HockinMV65S45:2745:27
423514Malcolm SygroveMV50S45:3145:31
442526Mike BennettMV60S46:0046:00
445547Tim MatthewsMV50S46:0546:05
469501Emil MaataMsenS46:5346:53
492513Lindsay RodgersMV45S48:1248:12
558542Stephen EllisMV60S54:1454:14