All posts by Malcolm Sygrove

Montane Dragon’s Back Race 2021, Wales, Monday, September 6, 2021

236 miles, 17,000 m ascent

Elaine Bisson

The Dragon’s Back Race
Rad Cefn Y Ddraig
‘The World’s Toughest Mountain Race’
6th – 11th September 2021
236 miles, 57,000ft, 6 days

As for so many others, this last year has been exceptionally challenging. To say things have not gone to plan would be an understatement. The one thing that keeps me on the brighter side is my running. Even a 20 minute bolt up and back along the busy main road sets me right. What I really love and have grown to need is a weekly escape to my favourite place. To the hills, especially the beautiful Lakeland fells. I tend to go alone, to choose the paths few people will visit. It does me the world of good and through lockdown it was the thing I missed and needed the most. If I have trouble sleeping I choose a route in the Lakes and try to visualise everything on it. It doesn’t take me long to fall asleep. They’re my grounding, the places I visit to escape the madness, whether that’s in my head or in my being, it’s where I go to feel truly alive and to be at peace.

So when the opportunity to race again opened up I knew I had to enter something good, something challenging, something huge! Something to make up for all that I’d missed. And so I entered the Dragon’s Back Race. Between entering and racing I was supposed to race the Winter Spine. It was all consuming, with a good few delays in the start dates until finally they hung up their hats and cancelled the 2021 event. So for me all my eggs now hung in the dragon basket.

I love running, I also love numbers and planning. I spent a good while reviewing previous training patterns and settling on a new training plan that would take me through to September. It consisted of a few training blocks, building up to a few months of pretty hard and long endurance days on the fells, the DBR specificity blocks. I racked up the biggest training weeks I’d ever done, perfectly mimicking the dragons back mile:elevation gain ratio. This meant long days going up and down Lakeland fells to get maximum elevation so I didn’t have to go crackers on the diminutive hills of Durham or on my incline treadmill. 

As usual I know it’s coming, I happily train, ticking off the challenges. I collect my gear and start to make an ever increasing pile. I make lists and notes and try to think of all eventualities and try to overcome the problems I may encounter before I do. I like to be organised, I thrive on it. 

I did all this to keep my mind busy. Honestly, life has thrown some of the most horrendous curve balls at me. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but perhaps it made me stronger and even more desperate to succeed. However, because of all that had happened, I never believed I would get to the start line, never mind the finish.

 

As September reared its head I became increasingly anxious, particularly of Crib Goch. I’d hoped to go down with Fiona to recce that and a few other sections I’d read were trickier. However life got in the way and we couldn’t. At the last minute I booked into a RAW guided tour. I spent the Saturday on the Carneddau and the Sunday on the Snowdon horseshoe for their guided recce. A major confidence boost as this was the hardest, rockiest terrain and the section that I’d been terrified of.

I also managed to convince my family of a last minute trip to Wales. With mammoth amounts of running kit packed and maps the length of Wales, I’d intended to recce the tricky sections. In reality the kit was barely touched. The house was within a few miles of the Carneddau and instead of spending days driving…most of the route is quite inaccessible with little for my teenage kids to do, I resolved to get the hills in my legs whilst still having a family holiday. It would mean that all of the terrain after day 1 would be a surprise. Not ideal, but life never is.

A few weeks before I raced at the Lakeland 100, I was 15th overall, 2nd female and bagged a PB of 5 hours. I knew I could easily get a PB but planned to keep the pace comfortable as it wasn’t my ‘A race’ and I didn’t want anything scuppering the DBR. I was over the moon with the result and this gave me a massive boost and confidence in the training I’d been doing. Afterwards I’d got one tiny blister and apart from that recovery was a dream. Tapering was welcome for a change after the heavy weeks, it gave me plenty of time to sort and resort and resort my bags….

Allowed camp bag:15kg, 59l
Daily drop bag: 2.5kg, 10l

Anyone who knows me, knows I pack, even for days on the fells, probably twice as much as everyone else, so to have these limits on my weekly supply was awful. It was almost the hardest part of the challenge for me. I weighed everything meticulously, thought I’d managed it then realised I hadn’t taken into account the actual drop bag weight. Anyway you get the gist!

Eventually everything was sorted into neat mesh bags, camp kit separated into sleeping, clothing, eating, washing, first aid. Daily kit bags packed…new clothes, fuel for each day separated into use from the start and to go in the drop bag, all of this allowing me very minimal effort whilst out and knackered.

So the day finally came. I was quite sad, I’ve never left my family for more than a couple of days and even then have had regular phone calls with them. Most of the camps wouldn’t have reception and so there would be no chance to speak.

After a long drive I arrived at Conwy. Imposter syndrome reared its head. There were lots of burly, loud men talking about previous big challenges. I felt completely out of my depth. I had to lug my bags to registration (17.5kg of camp kit plus my daily running bag kit), I’m quite small and not very strong so this made me feel even worse as men dawdled past barely struggling to lift their bags.

In the queue for registration I chatted to Steve Birkinshaw who had navigated on my BG and said a quick hello to Jen and Marcus Scotney (I’d met them both on John Kelly’s FKT attempts).

I’d arranged to share my tent compartment with my friend Juhana. We’d met through Scott, a great guy I’d run a few of the L100 recces with. They’d then come up to help on Mark’s BG and I’d navigated on Juhana’s a few months ago. He stopped to chat but at that point I was in such a panic I wasn’t really thinking straight. After dropping off my bags (and having to remove 200g of recovery fuel…they were strict!) I decided to hide and try to calm myself down. Much to my surprise Anna Troup came across. If you’ve ever crossed paths with her, even when she’s knackered, you’ll know she is one of the happiest, most positive people. She really settled my nerves. The briefing went on until quite late and I didn’t arrive at my hotel until 8. I had my last shower for a few days, gobbled up some pot pasta meals and tried my best to sleep. Sleep was fretful, I tried my Lakeland routes but kept jumping to Wales and panicking that I didn’t know any of them! Each hour I’d jump up thinking I’d missed my alarm.

 

Day 1

Conwy Castle to Nant Gwynant
30.5 m, 12,467ft
And so it begins…

It was a beautiful morning with clear skies. The forecast was for good visibility, no rain, little wind and HOT. I didn’t mind so much as this meant the rocks on Tryfan and Crib Goch would be dry…the two bits I was most eager to put behind me!

I went through the castle gates, had one last toilet visit to a normal toilet! (portaloos or outside pees would be the order for the next week) then lined up near to the start line. A familiar voice welcomed me and I turned to see Juhana. He exudes a calmness which is just what I needed. Kim Collison chatted too (another fell legend and Juhana’s coach who I’d met on Juhana’s BG).

My nerves increased until finally we were off along the city walls and then I immediately felt more relaxed. Too late to turn back! We weren’t timed until outside these to avoid a mad rush and accidents on the steps. Chris Brookman, who I’d run half of the Spine Challenger with and had finished joint 3rd, caught me up. We chatted excitedly about the week ahead. Juhana had said he was taking the first two days easy, I wondered if I’d manage his easy but it wasn’t long…despite him stopping for photos, for him to disappear ahead.

I’d recced the whole of day 1 except the Glyders. I had a really good run into Ogwen car park.

Fiona was there cheering me in (she was volunteering at the event) The incredible heat going up the long slog to Tryfan slowed my progress. It is however a great route up, involving clambering and scrambling up rocks which is a nice contrast to the morning’s running. We formed a little group on the way down, the previous time I’d gone it was misty and I’d ended up hitting some sheer drops and had to go back over my steps to find the better way. Initially there are huge boulders to jump between. Then you hit a path to contour round and eventually hit the scree towards the Glyders.

I know from previous experience not to bolt down hills and trash my quads so my descents were particularly slow (I had another 5 days of huge climbs) my uphills are always pretty fast, I really enjoy them and a few of the men cursed me as again I passed on the scree ascent to Glyder Fawr.

 

There was no checkpoint here and I fell in with Darren who I was to spend a good few miles with over the coming week. He knew the way and we expertly arrived at Glyder Fach. I left him on the grassy descent to catch another runner who was suffering badly with cramp. I tried unsuccessfully to find my salt tablets and he was keen to run with me, well to be chivvied along, being local he vowed he knew the best line. I did slow to help him but I was eager not to overcook the first day and to enjoy the experience. This was all unknown territory and I had no clue how my body would react after one day of running let alone 6.

At Pen y Pass I stopped to buy a Coke which was absolute heaven and I sipped this until I reached the ascent to Crib Goch. It’s not my favourite place but on reflection I think I really enjoyed it. It’s a huge scramble all the way to the top. At the top I lay down to catch my breath and calm my nerves, again the traverse isn’t my favourite but actually I managed reasonably well until I reached the final pinnacle. On my guided recce we’d descended a gully and scampered round some rock. There were no steep drops and I’d been relieved to avoid the pinnacle. However the mountain rescue man wouldn’t let me do that as he thought it was more dangerous, so with a lot of encouragement I found myself scrambling up the pinnacle.

Finally I reached the col before Carnedd Ugain, hurrah I’d done it! Here, there is even more scrambling which I really enjoyed. I reached Snowdon (with no queue!) hot and happy knowing I was on the home straight of day 1.

Onto Y Lliwedd where I’d thought there was a checkpoint. A group of teenagers were huddled on the summit and I was convinced they were hiding the checkpoint. I proceeded to move their bags then to check my map only to realise they weren’t having me on at all! 

As I descended towards the last peak of the day I passed a group huddled by some rocks. Soon after a mountain rescue helicopter started hovering over and someone was airlifted off the mountain. In my eagerness to get to the end I hadn’t realised anyone was injured in the group, and I certainly didn’t know it was Steve. He’d suffered a heart arrhythmia. Thankfully he’s home safe. It’s always a chilling sight to see and reminds you to take each step with care.

On to Gallt y Wenallt, the last summit of the day, a lovely grassy traverse then a steep drop to finally catch sight of the day 1 camp, then an unnerving steep descent through head high bracken to reach the finish.

I loved day 1, I’d overcome a few personal challenges. Visibility was glorious, I was 2nd female and ready for food! On arrival we were taken with our drop bags to the tent, no 51! I was relieved to see Juhana hadn’t changed his mind and was still happy to share. Unfortunately Kim had to pull out with an injury. We were all gutted, it would have been wonderful to see him race and to share tent stories with a legend like him. 

I set out my camp things then went to bathe in the cold river. On arrival I unfortunately disturbed a naked man! I would learn to give clear warning of my arrival in future.

Food for me was chips and soup with cake and ice cream. All of the meals were beautiful but with cauliflower and beans…ordinarily I’d wolf them down but didn’t want to risk the consequences of copious amounts of beans! So one of my targets for the day was to arrive before the chips and soup were taken off the menu! I drank lots of tea then went to sort my kit for the next day. Time seemed to fly by.

By 9 I was tucked up ready for sleep. With 8 people sharing a tent not much sleep was had. The others would arrive at close to 10, and it would be very late before all was quiet…apart from the intermittent banging of portaloo doors. They’d then rise just before 4:30 to be first in the breakfast queue and to start their days at the earliest opportunity, 6am.

On our timing sheets we’d been advised of when to leave according to the time of that day’s run. I decided I could give myself until 7, a lot earlier than the sheet suggested (8). 

367 started day 1
249 finished
31/249
2nd female
10:49:12

Day 2

Nant Gwynant to Dolgellau
36.5 m, 11,155ft
A day of surviving the 30 degree heat

I left the camp just after 7, hoping to avoid some of the day’s expected heat. It was a lovely start through little lanes and tracks then on up to Cnicht. Much fun was had bum sledging down the side of Cnicht on a lovely mossy slope. A bit of a weave through boggy jocks’ heads to climb onto the Moelwyns. These are lovely mountains but as I passed a group who were devastated that by their calculations they wouldn’t hit the checkpoint before cut-off, I pressed ahead in a mad rush. Could I possibly have messed up on the second day??? I didn’t much enjoy the day until I’d finally reached the support point well within the final cut off for the day’s running. Then there was a climb up onto the Rhinogs which I’d been looking forward to, however the heat was incredible and every step was a huge effort. 

On the way up the Roman Steps I remember slipping and having that awful second where I thought I’d smash my head then thinking, ‘Oh good, if I’m unconscious that’s a fairly good excuse not to run any further!’

I’d spent the day soaking my head and body in streams, bog water, anything really to bring my core temperature down. I really started to suffer up the Rhinogs. Thankfully I started running with Darren again and we both encouraged each other on to the end of a very tiring day.

The scenery was spectacular, amongst the best of the days but marred by the sun bearing down on us and draining all of our energy. By the time we reached the last peak of the day, Diffwys, the sun was setting and it started to cool, only then could I pick up my pace back to camp. 

On the road I caught up with Juhana. I was quite confused as I hadn’t been aware of him passing me. Later he was to tell me about our conversation on Diffwys…I was clearly so knackered and demoralised I wasn’t really with it

Arriving back at camp I curled up in a ball on the tent floor absolutely beaten, ‘having a moment?’ Is how Juhana described it!

The saving grace for this day, which I would rank as the hardest fell day I’ve ever had was the hot shower in the campsite. ‘Hot shower, hot showers!!!’ I repeated excitedly on the way! These sorted me out, along with soupy, cheesy chips and sticky toffee pudding with ice cream. 

The man who sorted the tea and coffee asked me daily from now on, ‘still competitive?’ I thought he’d meant still top 3 until I realised just how many people were being timed out. This became his daily chatter, that and laughing about my soupy, cheesy chips concoction. 

There was just time to sort myself out for the next day in the darkness. Whilst washing my bowl and filling my bottles I watched as one man just made the cut off for the day (22:00 at camp), the next was 20 seconds over and was timed out. It was very emotional. We’d all suffered that day and to have seconds between finishing was heartbreaking.

Returning to my bed I fell fast asleep, this would be my last good sleep until I got home.

26/125
2nd female
12:27:18

Day 3

Dolgellau to Ceredigion
43.5 m, 11,155ft
My best day!

Realising my timing mistake of the previous day, I resolved to leave camp at 6:30 each day. I’d get up at 5, sneak out of our compartment as Juhana would stay in for another half hour. I’d arrive back to change and tape my feet before I’d wait for just enough daylight to not need my head torch. Then I’d hand in my overnight bag, have my drop bag weighed and daily kit check and off I’d go. Map checked, checkpoints remembered.

 

This was without a doubt my favourite of all of the days, visibility was good and there was a cool breeze (getting quite strong on Cadair Idris) but welcome nonetheless. Cadair Idris was an absolute highlight, it’s a beautiful mountain.

 

From there we traversed fells to enter a forest with some lovely shade. Machynlleth Co-op beckoned. Lovely Nick offered to stop to buy me something so that I wouldn’t lose time on the First Lady! Ice lollies, coke and lemonade were purchased with extra for the next day!

I loved the mixture of terrain, it was absolutely stunning. I also had lots of good company along the route, again I saw a lot of Chris.

By day 3 it seemed I’d set off and catch people at certain points along the trail. There was a man, Keith #298, who I’d always catch 3 miles from the end. It was a good game!

Unfortunately for me I think I was Juhana’s target, I’d always try to run as fast as I could but he’d catch me earlier and earlier as the week progressed. 

From now on our nights would become increasingly disturbed by snore monsters…sleep became a fabled thing and lying in bed to rest was just as important!

17/120
2nd female
11:48:14

Day 4

Through the Elan Valley
43miles, 7,546 ft
A day of soggy bog feet with the lure of a pub at the finish

There was much chatter in the camp the previous night of thunderstorms threatening to reduce the course. Luckily this didn’t happen.

It was a lovely start through forest, initially with boggy baby’s’ heads, then a wonderful steep muddy descent to reach wide forest tracks.

Climbing up to Drygarn Fawr with its two beautifully huge cairns, I got really excited when I spotted the biggest rainbow I’d ever seen. Suffice to say I really enjoyed this boggy running that reminded me of my home turf along the Pennine Way.

 

My favourite memory of the whole race was nearing the end of day 4. I dropped into a valley by myself, horses were grazing, there was a huge eagle that kept swooping above my head. The clouds broke and sunbeams shone down onto where the camp was. It was absolutely glorious and a wonderful sight at the end of the day.

Even better was my much earlier finish of 5pm and a pub within spitting distance. We all raided it and sat as if in heaven with pints of Coke and pulled pork sandwiches. It was quite an amusing sight, a bunch of smelly runners sitting in the pub with a bunch of nearly naked runners washing in the river by the pub garden. Juhana thought it would be a good calendar photo, I’m not sure who for!

22/145
2nd female
10:29:17

People could choose to leave or to stay on and do/attempt a full day or a short course even though they were no longer competitive in the event. This did become slightly confusing and at times soul destroying as fresh faces caught and passed us on the trails. I think a big DNF sticker would have been nice to see for us still battling full days!

Day 5

Into the Brecon Beacons National Park
43.5 m, 10,499ft
SAS survival 

This was a new day 5 for the now extended 6 day Dragon’s Back race. Initially I was excited to be running through the Brecon Beacons. However, this was the day I really felt like I was in an SAS survival camp. 

A beautiful mizzly start heading up through forest. I got quite stressed in the forest worried I’d miss a turning. I was so relieved to find the first checkpoint hidden in the mist. I spent the morning running with Nick which was fun. 

Passing through Llandovery there was a long queue at the patisserie for those doing the short course. I did wonder to myself whether I was missing a treat continuing in the madness! Heading up some tracks, I foolishly took someone’s advice against my own better judgement and ended up off track, not for long and never to happen again!

 

I loved the climbs across the Fans. They are very like the Northern Lakes fell terrain, good steep long grassy climbs, grassy descents.

I felt great and enjoyed lots of good company along the way. I stopped for a delicious bacon roll and coke at the burger van near the Storey Arms, then it all seemed to unravel. 

On my way up Pen Y Fan my shin started hurting. This then had a domino effect and I started catastrophizing and wondering if I’d ever make it to Cardiff Castle. There was an evil little traverse across to the final Cairn. The man in front dropped to his knees in dismay when he realised we almost went back on ourselves.

I loved the final descent though, there was a beautiful little trail alongside that night’s shower facilities!

However, I was broken by the end of the day. It was long with significant climbs over some of the most awkward terrain. I needed a cuddle, I realised just how much I need hugs! Coming into camp I couldn’t hold back my tears and thankfully was scooped up by Fiona! 

21/107
2nd female
12:26:13

Day 6

To Cardiff Castle
39m, 4,265ft
The end is in sight, everything hurts. 

There was an excitement in camp, a feeling that we could get to the finish if only we were sensible. I went from breakfast to the medics’ tent to get my shin taped up. I’d been fretting that this now minor injury may impede my progress enough to stop me reaching the finish. The medic was lovely and reassured me that although it was likely to be painful I could make it. 

I’d not looked forward to this day’s running, I like to see lots of contours and on the map there was a severe lack of contours and a considerable amount of grey blocky areas (towns). In reality the route is quite beautiful although obviously lower level. All the volunteers claim it’s downhill, I’d beg to differ! 

I was really emotional by today. When the end is in sight the pressure is on and you’re aware of every niggle or twinge that might stop you in your tracks and force you to return to try all over again. It turns out one of the men I had been sharing a lot of the trails with had matching shin tape, although the medic had told him it was possible stress fracture. He increasingly adopted a funny gait through the morning and was loaded up to the eye balls with pain killers. He battled through and finished. Of those few remaining, we weren’t going to let anything get in the way of us reaching Cardiff, we’d been through so much to come away empty handed and then have to return.

At Merthyr Tydfil we joined the parkrun which was quite amusing, seeing people belt round 5k when we’d been running the length of Wales with Cardiff now in our sights but still 24 miles away. It was here too that I spotted the first road sign to Cardiff with 24 miles written on it; the whoops could probably be heard from the castle walls! 

Unfortunately my joy and excitement faded as the day progressed and the pain in my shin increased. At Nelson I stopped for a Mars Bar drink to perk me up.

At one of the summit trigs I burst into tears when Cardiff came into sight for the first time. I don’t think I’ve ever been such an emotional bombshell as I was this week. 

All of the checkpoint staff were super efficient, eager to boot us all to the finish! 

Darren passed me, and promised some lovely parks ahead. 

Katie and Zoe caught me up in the last park, I was struggling with the pain, but with company the finish line felt easier.

It was quite a moment when eventually we saw the castle and entered the finishing tunnel, banners flapping in my face. It was incredible, I remember saying I can’t believe I did it, I really did it. The noise was unbelievable, so many people. I had one focus and that was the ‘finish’ dibber. Only then could I stop. The feeling of dibbing for the final time was amazing. I was slightly overwhelmed with the wall of photographers at the finish, eager to escape and process what I’d managed to do.

30/138
2nd female
8:53:14

Shane Ohley, race director, saw me sneak past and came to congratulate me on second place. He then started to walk me round to the camp and bar! Thankfully Juhana had come to watch me come in and gave me the biggest hug, a surge of relief through my body. It had been one hell of an experience, one hell of a journey to reach the Castle.

We sat in the sunshine and drank the best shandy and tucked into chips. Quietly letting the realisation of what we’d done sink in. Having freshened up finally in a lovely warm shower we spent the evening watching the daily videos, trying to spot ourselves in photos. Trying desperately to process what we’d achieved, where we’d been, everything was such a blur. We tucked into our final camp meal from our bowls and raided the bar. Then we were presented with our baby dragons, 90 of the 367 that started. It was a brilliant end to a remarkable journey. 

Elaine Bisson #394
21st / 90 full course finishers. Baby dragon winners!
2nd female out of only 7 female finishers (37 started)
66:53:28

The End

I was sad to leave the following morning. To sit on the bus cradling my dragon as we drove past the many hills and valleys we’d traversed that week. Arriving back at Conwy felt like the start was a lifetime ago.

 

My highlights amongst the incredible landscape were the people I shared much of my journey with, it was lovely to see Chris again and meet so many others. I’m so glad that Fiona was there. I never realised how much I need hugs until that week! 

Juhana’s being there made my experience a million times better. I loved and looked forward to his company…not so when he flew past on the hills but certainly at the end of each day. I’m ever grateful that he put up with me in the confines of the tent. 

Anna Troup and her daughter also appeared on route 2-3 times each day. They were there to support her husband but their encouragement was second to none, it was a welcome sight indeed. Thanks Anna!

The Dragon Mail we opened during dinner was absolutely wonderful. A few tears were shed, particularly on those hard days. 

There’s nothing I like more than being outside in the wilderness. Pushing myself. Getting back to basics. To remove all the worries of life and focus only on moving from one camp to another. 

Simplicity. 

It’s odd when you come home. You’ve been on this adventure and you’ve somehow changed, you’ve grown to appreciate the world in a different way. A warm shower might be the best invention ever but I can happily do without the rest of life’s pressures, and I now find I miss the cold streams! The bed you longed for is now under the thin sheets separating you from the stars. With the sound of the wind rustling the layers, an owl hooting, a babbling brook…not so much the snores of a tired dragon tamer but heyho! The days that you hope for are to battle the elements, the childhood spirit of splashing in puddles, charging down hills, skidding on your bum down what you hope is a grassy slope with no hidden rocks. Nature is the best playground, however old you may be! 

Arriving back in camp to share stories, the highs, the lows. To watch the sunset, to gaze up at the stars and wonder what tomorrow will bring. To wake knackered and look around at the emptying breakfast tables to beaten drawn faces, proud that you’re one of the few still there fighting. The tired, blackened eyes wondering if they’ll make another day but still determined to try. I’ve loved it, every single bit. 

It has been the most wonderful and challenging adventure. I’ve shared the trails with so many extraordinary characters, their positivity and strength inspirational. Friendships forged out on the fells are among my strongest. I have made memories that I will treasure forever. I really hope that I can find an experience that will rival this but I fear it will be hard to beat.

Results

Pos.NameCat.Cat. Pos.OverallDaily Results
1stSimon RobertsM1st45:42:111: 07:25:14 (1st)
2: 08:52:11 (1st)
3: 08:41:43 (1st)
4: 07:17:00 (2nd)
5: 07:52:30 (1st)
6: 05:33:33 (1st)
7thKatie MillsF1st61:12:541: 09:58:06 (15th)
2: 11:19:20 (10th)
3: 11:13:30 (10th)
4: 09:14:36 (7th)
5: 11:25:43 (10th)
6: 08:01:39 (11th)
9thAlastair HubbardMV1st61:35:471: 09:17:40 (6th)
2: 11:17:53 (8th)
3: 10:56:27 (8th)
4: 09:51:33 (13th)
5: 12:05:57 (16th)
6: 08:06:17 (12th)
21stElaine BissonF2nd66:53:281: 10:49:12 (31st)
2: 12:27:18 (26th)
3: 11:48:14 (17th)
4: 10:29:17 (22nd)
5: 12:26:13 (21st)
6: 08:53:14 (30th)
69thPatrizia StrandmanFV1st81:53:101: 12:07:24 (76th=)
2: 14:08:49 (74th)
3: 14:27:17 (79th)
4: 13:24:40 (109th)
5: 15:38:29 (98th)
6: 12:06:31 (117th)

A total of 90 competitors finished the race, out of 367 starters.

Full results can be found here: https://www.dragonsbackrace.com/2021-results

Historical Race Stats

2012

Starters 82, 32 finishers

Finishing Rate 39%

2015

Starters 142, 65 finishers

Finishing Rate 45%

2017

Starters 223, 127 finishers

Finishing Rate 56%

2019

Starters 406, 251 finishers

Finishing Rate 62%

2021

Starters 367, 90 finishers

Finishing Rate 24%
The heat on days one and two meant only 125 were still racing by the start of day 3

Daily Timings!

4:20

‘Wake’ as tent mates make an early start.

5:00

Get up, sneak out, have breakfast, chat to some other bleary eyed racers as I proclaim I need more coffee.

5:30

Sneak back in the tent. Pack up sleeping kit, get changed, half an hour taping feet, wait until enough sunlight to not need a headtorch.

6:25

Lug bags, hand in camp bag, get drop bag weighed, get kit check.

6:30

Be on my way.

18:00 – 19:00

Sometime around this time, arrive back at camp. Dib finish, wait expectantly to make sure no checkpoints were missed. Escorted to the tent, explained what amazing facilities await me. Where the freezing hot tub is tonight. Lie on the tent floor and sometimes cry!

19:15

Wash in the river, change into warm camp clothes, set out bed.

19:30

Get food, get more food, get lots of drinks. Watch the screen and the moving dots. Eat some more. Read dragon mail.

20:00

Sort kit and bag for morning, brush teeth.

21:00

Get into bed. Try my best to block out the sound of snoring until it all happens again!

Photos Credits

Thanks to the following for the photographs appearing in this report.

My Bib Number

No Limits Photography

Fiona Brannan

Elaine Bisson Stars in Montane Dragon’s Back Race

Elaine tackles the Crib Goch ridge

Elaine Bisson achieves second place in “The World’s Toughest Mountain Race”

The Montane Dragon’s Back Race is definitely not a race to take lightly. This six-day stage race takes competitors across the rugged spine of Wales from the north coast at Conwy to the capital, Cardiff. The total distance is 236 miles, with 17,400m (57,000 ft) of ascent. In short six brutal ultra-marathons on consecutive days.

The race took place between the 6th and 11th of September, 2021. Conditions varied between warm sunshine and persistent rain with virtually no visibility. Elaine completed the course in a total time of 66:53:28, 2nd of 7 female finishers out of 37 starters.

Elaine had many of us on tenterhooks, “dot-watching” on the tracker site as she completed each day’s challenge, and eagerly awaiting the daily video report. It was truly awe-inspiring.

Elaine sums up the experience: “It has been the most wonderful and challenging adventure. I’ve shared the trails with so many extraordinary characters, their positivity and strength inspirational. Friendships forged out on the fells are among my strongest. I have made memories that I will treasure forever.”

Many congratulations, Elaine, on an outstanding result.

Editor’s note: You don’t have to take my word for this. Elaine is also a great run report writer, so watch this space for a fantastic bedtime read.

 

Great North Run 2021, Sunday, September 12, 2021

The 40th running of the Great North Run took place on 12th September 2021, after a year’s absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The race was run on a revised course, for one year only, as an out and back route, crossing the Tyne Bridge twice and passing through the city centre before finishing next to the Town Moor.

As usual, many Striders took part in the race. Their results can be found at the bottom of this report. Here are some Striders’ recollections of the race.

Sarah Fawcett writes…

I think this was my tenth GNR and I smiled the whole way round, despite the entire route being uphill!

It was wonderful that the event happened after all of the uncertainty of recent months and I thought that the organisation was excellent.  Everything seemed to work really smoothly.

I, like many, will be happy to go back to South Shields next year but the advantages of yesterday’s route was that I spent most of the time looking across the carriageway to spot Striders running in the opposite direction. Also the doubling back route meant that the bands and charity cheering squads were condensed into half the normal geography and therefore were an ever present atmosphere booster.

The pizza and lager at the end were very enjoyable too. 

 

This from George Nicholson…

For me now there is little point in entering races anymore as age, health and injuries have slowed me up so much that even the proverbial tortoise would get to the finish line before me. The one exception of course is the Great North Run. Having done it 39 times before, not to enter is unthinkable. Just getting to the finish is my only priority, and I try not to worry about my ‘run/walk time’ . Pride obviously comes into it a bit, and I did hope to get a sub 3hour. This at least I did mange by 1 second!

 

The last 200m was nerve racking as I could see the clock ticking down. It was a bit distressing to be overtaken by 2 daffodils at that point, and very embarrassing as the moment was captured on BBC1 and broadcast round 127 Countries. Thank you Malcolm for also making it known on social media.

My only other concern was, would I remember to turn back around at White Mare Pool or would I turn left as usual and head off along the A194 to South Shields?

Good to see several Striders’ vests along the way, and brief shout-outs to Alan Smith and Jonathan Hamill. It was also great to exchange a few words with several ex-Striders.

Apart from the run itself, the other exciting thing for me with the GNR weekend is the annual gathering with other Ever Presents at the Sage in Gateshead on the Saturday afternoon. We always meet up for photos, compare ailments and reasons why we run slower. Naturally there is also cake to eat. For the first time Brendan Foster came along to join us and he was in quite a jovial mood.

Only sad bit for my weekend was that ‘Ever Present’ Barrie Evans was not able to make the start line, thus I am now ‘last man standing’ for Striders.

Lastly I would like to thank everybody who sent me some lovely messages and words of support.

… and Marc Watson

I spoke to Allan Seheult about racing and tactics and best ways to run on a number of occasions. One of the best bits of advice he left with me was negative splits. Well Allan, my GNR today is dedicated to you. Ran a disciplined first half which allowed me to push on second half and absolutely smash my GNR PB. (Along with smashing my first half of the run with my second. 3 sub 9 minute miles in the second half too.) As soon as I looked at this chart I thought of Allan and what he gave to me as a runner. Miss his coaching dearly and so glad he left this with me.

 

Results

NameClubPosFinish TimeCategory Pos
Marc ScottRichmond & Zetland Harriers101:01:221
Hellen ObiriKenya101:07:421
Stephen JacksonSunderland Harriers & AC (Elvet Striders 2nd Claim)2601:08:475
Graeme WattElvet Striders8201:15:529
Georgie HebdonElvet Striders9201:16:3662
Michael LittlewoodElvet Striders13201:18:235
Allan RenwickElvet Striders25901:22:385
Emma ThompsonElvet Striders36701:24:504
David CowellElvet Striders48101:26:4474
Bryan PottsElvet Striders49301:27:00115
Mark GriffithsElvet Striders50001:27:0651
Matthew ArcherElvet Striders67301:29:06102
Anna BasuElvet Striders84101:30:438
Corrine WhalingElvet Striders106601:32:4312
Kyle SunleyElvet Striders117801:33:36417
Paul SwinburneElvet Striders189601:38:03223
Karen ByngElvet Striders225601:39:3714
John HugillElvet Striders258501:41:12467
Louise MortonElvet Striders293301:42:3256
Nina BojadzicElvet Striders301901:42:5258
Andrew DaviesElvet Striders387901:45:40462
Simon GrahamElvet Striders486001:48:35710
Kelly GuyElvet Striders574501:50:39148
Mark FosterElvet Striders589601:51:04819
Anna GrubertElvet Striders644201:52:25187
Callum AskewElvet Striders684401:53:221860
Paul WestElvet Striders685801:53:25937
Joanne RobertsonElvet Striders687001:53:26198
Theresa Rugman-JonesElvet Striders768001:55:12128
Lisa SampleElvet Striders820801:56:24281
Jo Ann LongElvet Striders880301:57:40621
Calista IbbitsonElvet Striders946101:58:58698
Heather RaistrickElvet Striders987901:59:48118
Chris EdwardsElvet Striders989501:59:501258
Deborah JonesElvet Striders1096102:02:22233
Kirsty NelsonElvet Striders1118202:02:54351
Alan ScottElvet Striders1168002:04:09559
Jane DowsettElvet Striders1190702:04:41278
Mark HerkesElvet Striders1290602:07:092927
Steph GreenwellElvet Striders1297802:07:241135
Marc WatsonElvet Striders1332602:08:111286
Sarah FawcettElvet Striders1357902:08:47214
Jonathan HamillElvet Striders1385602:09:271135
Laura CampbellElvet Striders1500802:12:13710
Mark KearneyElvet Striders1511402:12:291721
Kirsten FenwickElvet Striders1579102:14:01784
Bob GrattonElvet Striders1585402:14:10336
Aileen ScottElvet Striders1705402:17:02574
Rachel CoyElvet Striders1740202:17:59900
Jane IvesElvet Striders1755002:18:19607
Lisa LumsdonElvet Striders1764002:18:322934
Angela WilliamsElvet Striders1868502:21:20682
Angela DixonElvet Striders1890702:21:54934
James NicholsonElvet Striders1900002:22:1550
Sophie DennisElvet Striders1944902:23:321050
Adam BentElvet Striders2038202:26:12216
Andrew ThurstonElvet Striders2061902:26:52448
Allan NicholsElvet Striders2219202:31:431487
Alan SmithElvet Striders2398902:38:3020
Kayleigh HindElvet Striders2464402:41:123006
Rachel TothElvet Striders2646602:50:391619
Margaret ThompsonElvet Striders2660802:51:2623
Alison SmithElvet Striders2695002:53:251658
Angela CowellElvet Striders2736602:56:142009
George NicholsonElvet Striders2788002:59:59115

Gateshead Harriers Quayside 5k 2021, Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Anna Basu

I know I post too much running stuff but last night’s Quayside 5k was really meaningful for me, having put me through some admittedly self-inflicted agonising. The race has two halves, with a 20 minute cutoff for the A race. After two sub-20 minute 5ks pre Lockdown One (aka a very long time ago), and spurred on by admiration for Emma Thompson’s 2019 A race performance (it’s true Emma!), I had signed up for the A race. Since then I hadn’t done many 5ks at all, and certainly nothing sub-20, and I am currently training (hard) for a marathon. So, though theoretically capable of a sub 20 5k, just, it wasn’t really in the bag and when race day came round I was aware I could actually come last… Thanks to an interesting Striders mile race heat about two years ago, I do have prior experience coming last with a smile, but still it takes a bit of mental preparation and good friends to weather it!

Proof that Anna doesn’t always smile when running.

Anyway what I am reflecting on here is the good friends. I really want to thank Corrine for her very effective pre race moral support provided by text from Scotland! And my long suffering husband for putting up with a slightly jumpy wife for a day or two and coming to support me. And the infamous GTG* crowd in a similar vein, for acknowledging the issue! In the end, the race and training (here huge thanks go to North East Project (Run)) carried me through and I got that sub 20 (19:48, not a PB, but fastest 5k since January 2020). I desperately wanted to achieve this again post Covid, and now I have, even though it required ending the race curled up on the concrete waiting for normal breathing to resume… and I didn’t come last, as it happens, but even if I had it would have been with a race I was proud of.

The other thing about friends is how wonderful it was to meet up with fellow Striders and warm up together pre race, chat, laugh and then stay to watch and cheer on the B race and cheer far too loudly, (though obviously not as loudly as Allan R, champion Striders cheerer!) Lots of Striders absolutely smashed their times last night – a good deal of training has been going on and there were a lot of very happy people with times I could only dream of. This is a gratitude post for the power of running, endeavour and friendship. Oh, and possibly also Mars bars, though that may be someone else’s story…

*GTG:  Greggs to Greggs!!! Allan Renwick’s contribution to Sunday long runs. Start at Greggs Fram, run a lot (in various little packs that keep converging), finish at Greggs, go to Greggs and buy coffee and sarnies and eat them on the grass.

Race Route

Results

Race A

PosNameNet TimeCategoryCat PosGen PosClub
1Calum Johnson00:14:10Senior Men (20-34)11Gateshead Harriers & AC
34Danielle Hodgkinson00:16:20V35 Ladies11Wallsend Harriers & AC
45Georgie Hebdon00:16:32Senior Men (20-34)2144Elvet Striders
61Michael Mason00:17:03V45 Men460Elvet Striders
65Graeme Watt00:17:11V40 Men1264Elvet Striders
91Bryan Potts00:17:58V35 Men2389Elvet Striders
113Riad Ketani00:18:22V35 Men30107Elvet Striders
122Allan Renwick00:18:33V50 Men7114Elvet Striders
129Lindsay McEwan00:18:46V45 Men11120Elvet Striders
136Matthew Archer00:18:59V40 Men18125Elvet Striders
167Anna Basu00:19:48V45 Ladies422Elvet Striders

186 finishers.

Race B

PosNameNet TimeCategoryCat PosGen PosClub
1Andrew Freeman00:18:02V40 Men11unaffiliated
10Julie Pescod00:19:43V35 Ladies11Sunderland Strollers
55Mick Davis00:20:56V50 Men945Elvet Striders
79Nina Bojadzic00:21:39V40 Ladies419Elvet Striders
105Karen Byng00:22:13V50 Ladies328Elvet Striders
136Mark Foster00:23:13V40 Men1596Elvet Striders
161Andrew Davies00:24:01V45 Men17108Elvet Striders
177Heather Raistrick00:24:39V55 Ladies563Elvet Striders
207Stephanie Greenwell00:25:21Senior Ladies (20-34)2779Elvet Striders
226Phil Swinburn00:26:02V40 Men23139Elvet Striders
236Kirsty Nelson00:26:28V45 Ladies1193Elvet Striders

385 finishers.

Race Photos

Thanks to Jan Panke for the many other Strider photos.

External Links

Full Results can be found on Race Timing Solutions.

Race Organiser’s website: Gateshead Harriers

Pete Bland Kentmere Horseshoe fell race 2021, Sunday, August 1, 2021

AM / 12.3m / 3300ft

Nina Mason

A few months ago I entered a handful of fell races, determined to get ‘hill fit’ again. I have read a bit about the Kentmere Horseshoe, it has got history, and it looked a great route from a valley I have not previously explored.

Mum came with me on the day, and she did a decent walk, pretty much the route of the race, though dropping back down the valley just before Kentmere Pike. The weather was forecast cooler, but we got sunshine and heat again. I shouldn’t complain, but I do, I find these conditions tough to run in.

This year the race was part of the fell running championships. Plus, it was Pete Bland’s memorial race, following his death in November, so a huge entry of 600. He had organised the race for many years, and there was a very moving speech before the start. (He was a lot more than RO, and the Fellrunner magazine had done a great tribute supplement about him earlier this year).

The race started in two waves, women first then the men 15 minutes later. It starts, inevitably, with a long climb. Up Buck Crag, round Yoke, and to the first checkpoint on Ill Bell. Then a fast trod up to High Street (CP2). From there to Kentmere Pike (CP3) it undulates a bit, but lots of good running, and then a good couple of miles downhill to the finish.

Except for the first climb, much of this race is very runnable – lots of grassy trods, and some flattish or undulating sections once up on the tops. This made the race pretty fast, with the winning time 1hr22! Because of the split start, the first men caught me 50mins into my run, flying past, then a steady flow kept passing me until Kentmere Pike, when paces started to even out.

As for my run – urgh. I never felt like I got into my running. A late banana? Like the Grinch, were my shoes too tight? Was I weary after a long run out last weekend? Whatever it was, my head didn’t feel in the right place, and my competitive edge never really appeared. I lost places in the women’s race where I would usually battle harder, and even on the downhill I didn’t feel physically comfortable. What a waste, as downhill is the best bit for me! My mum made all the effort to climb to the halfway point to be rewarded with ‘I feel like sh*t’, and when asked about the views I hung my head in shame – all I had seen was my feet. I feel sure I could have picked up a few places if I had felt more on form, not like me at all.

But I cheered up enough to enjoy some  post-race chat with friends from other clubs, and the sun shining on the finish and the event field. The route is fabulous, the race organisation was great (as expected), and the fell-running spirit much in evidence – competitive, but always supportive. Kentmere is a beautiful village and valley, and I am determined to go back both for my own outings and to tackle the race again.

Results

PosNameClubCategoryTime
1stJacob AdkinKeswick ACMSEN01:22:20
7thHannah HorsburghKeswick ACWSEN01:29:30
309thNina MasonElvet StridersW4502:15:13

478 Finishers, 3 DNFs

External Links

Full Results can be found on SportIdent.

Race Organiser’s website: www.kentmerehorseshoe.org.uk

Willow Miner Trail Race Results 2021

2021 Winners

Graeme Watt of Elvet Striders
Aly Dixon of Sunderland Strollers

Full Results

PositionTimeNumberFirst nameSurnameCategoryClub
10:38:11260GraemeWattMV40Elvet Striders
20:38:23203MichaelLittlewoodMV40Elvet Striders
30:39:29211AlistairMaxwellMJesmond Joggers
40:39:54242GarySpaldingMRun Peterlee
50:40:07257MattWalkerMV40Durham City Harriers
60:40:21229IanPickettMV40Tyne Bridge Harriers
70:40:54261PaulWeirMV40Sedgefield Harriers
80:42:19155AlyDixonFV40Sunderland Strollers
90:42:42212LindsayMcEwanMV40Elvet Striders
100:42:44146AlexCollierMV40Elvet Striders
110:43:02208IanMarshMNorth Shields Polytechnic
120:43:13160ThomasDuttonMElvet Striders
130:43:42220DavidNolanMLow Fell
140:43:55255DavidWalkerMV50Sedgefield Harriers
150:44:00141KevCarraharMV50Sunderland Harriers & AC
160:44:14224DarrenParksMV40Jarrow & Hebburn AC
170:44:27161KarlEdwardsMV60Hartlepool Burn Road Harriers
180:44:59190LeeJohnsonMWashington Running Club
190:45:12196JohnKirbyMDerwent Valley Running Club
200:45:19172DavidGribbenMV60Houghton Harriers & AC
210:45:21239TobyRoutledgeMJesmond Joggers
220:45:29267MaxWilkinsonMDurham Fell Runners
230:45:38177OliverHearnMNorth Shields Polytechnic
240:45:55144LauraCheethamFJesmond Joggers
250:45:57234AllanRenwickMV50Elvet Striders
260:46:20178AndrewHeavisideMV40Crook & Dist Sports AC
270:46:27127PhillipAtkinsonMV50Birtley AC
280:46:31232JoanneRaineFAberystwyth Athletic Club
290:46:35248JohnSutcliffeMV40North Shields Polytechnic
300:46:45218PeterMilburnMV60
310:46:48157JohnDoddsMV50Washington Running Club
320:46:59193TristanKeatsMV50Stockton Striders AC
330:47:04128BrianBailesMV50Birtley AC
340:47:04137RachelBrehenyFV40Jarrow & Hebburn AC
350:47:31165StevenFairbairnMV40
360:47:35252IanThompsonMCrook & Dist Sports AC
370:47:59180GeoffHewitsonMV60Crook & Dist Sports AC
380:48:07187JackLoganM
390:48:10194JaniceKellyFV50Run Peterlee
400:48:13245LukeStevensM
410:48:14264CorrineWhalingFV40Elvet Striders
420:48:21153ShannelCurtisFV40Birtley AC
430:48:28152MalcolmCoxMV60Sunderland Strollers
440:48:33159LeeDrummondMV40Birtley AC
450:49:01129PhillipBainesMV40Stockton Striders AC
460:49:11154MichaelDaleMV40Elvet Striders
470:49:15169SimonGardnerMV50
480:49:51216AllanMcManusMV40Sunderland Harriers & AC
490:50:11134MartinBoalM
500:50:20227RachaelPerowneFV40Tyne Bridge Harriers
510:50:39122StevenAireyMElvet Striders
520:50:41191StevenJonesMV40
530:50:47215ShaunMcGrathMV50Houghton Harriers & AC
540:50:55166CliffordFeatherstoneMV60Durham City Harriers
550:51:04231RebeccaPottingerFBirtley AC
560:51:10126CallumAskewMElvet Striders
570:51:11258JonathanWallaceMV50Sedgefield Harriers
580:51:17167StevenFinnieMSunderland Strollers
590:51:26246AndrewStoddartMV40Newcastle Frontrunners
600:51:37140SiButterworthMV40Shildon Running & AC
610:51:39176IanHearnMV50North Shields Polytechnic
620:51:40266JocelynWilkinsonFV40Run Peterlee
630:51:48124JenniferArthurFDurham City Harriers
640:51:59151VikkiCottonFV40Sunderland Harriers & AC
650:52:04230DaniellePizzeyFGateshead Harriers & AC
660:52:43200BrettLambertMV40Aycliffe Running Club
670:53:15201DavidLeatMV60Stockfield Striders
680:53:48254LyneValentineFV60Sunderland Strollers
690:54:02138MichaelBunnMV60Jarrow & Hebburn AC
700:54:15226Anna EvaGarrido MoyanoF
710:54:39235ShaunRobertsMV60Elvet Striders
720:54:46209RachelleMasonFV40Elvet Striders
730:55:11210TimMatthewsMV50Elvet Striders
740:55:31249LeighTangFGateshead Harriers & AC
750:55:34174KeithHattonMV60Shildon Running & AC
760:55:40150AndrewCoolingMV40Sun City Tri
770:56:00143MarkChapmanMV40Sedgefield Harriers
780:56:11147LouiseCollinsFElvet Striders
790:56:28121JohnAdamsM
800:56:54139StephenBustonMV40
810:56:57195PeterKingMV50Sedgefield Harriers
820:56:58186PeterJacksonMV40Coxhoe on the Run
830:57:12130MegBakerFElvet Striders
840:57:15241RebeccaSnaithF
850:57:27240MarkRussellMV50Stocksfield Striders
860:57:40168StuartForsythMNewcastle Frontrunners
870:57:53238MickRobsonMV50
880:58:22158KayDrummondFV50Birtley AC
890:58:23253ZoeTowersFV40Birtley AC
900:58:34256MarieWalkerFV50Sedgefield Harriers
910:58:43170SimonGentMV40North Shields Polytechnic
920:59:08164SarahFairbairnFV40
930:59:26185CalistaIbbotsonFElvet Striders
940:59:35135RachelBoalFElvet Striders
950:59:39244JohnStephensonMV60
960:59:47265NicolaWhitmanFV40Saltwell Harriers
970:59:53175ChrisHearmonFV50Sedgefield Harriers
981:00:02182DavidHodgsonMV50Elswick Harriers
991:00:06268PaulWilkinsonMV50
1001:00:15251CharlieTaylorMV60Runnation Running Club
1011:00:39204JoanneLuckingFV40Ponteland Runners
1021:00:50123ChristineAllenFCrook & Dist Sports AC
1031:00:51250AmandaTaylorFV50Crook & Dist Sports AC
1041:00:55213AliceMcGeeFWashington Running Club
1051:01:44225SophiePattersonF
1061:02:42270JanYoungFV60Elvet Striders
1071:03:00259MarcWatsonMV40Elvet Striders
1081:03:57222StephenPalmerMV40Birtley AC
1091:04:29131EmmaBarnettFV40
1101:04:30162LeeEgglestoneMCoxhoe on the Run
1111:04:52233DuncanReedMV50Farsley Flyers
1121:05:17206WendyLynchFV50Low Fell
1131:05:19214AllysonMcGrathFV50
1141:05:31163StephenEllisMV60Elvet Striders
1151:05:57142GeorgeCawkwellMV70Crook & Dist Sports AC
1161:06:12236EmmaRobinsonF
1171:06:12132LucyBlacklockF
1181:06:12183AshleighHoltF
1191:06:18243CherylStanleyFV40Low Fell
1201:08:03188SimonJamesFV40
1211:08:22149JillConnollyFV60Sunderland Strollers
1221:08:46247KevinSugdenMV40
1231:11:33207RebeccaMaddisonFV40
1241:11:33237AngelaRobsonFV40Elvet Striders
1251:12:03205LisaLumsdonFV40Elvet Striders
1261:14:20223TeresaPalmerFV50Birtley AC
1271:14:24197MonicaKnightFV40
1281:14:49171LucyGibbisonFV40North Shields Polytechnic
1291:17:14269KirstyWiltonFV40Sunderland Strollers
1301:17:37145JimmyColledgeMV60Lonely Goat RC
1311:18:43136ClaireBrabanFV40Birtley AC
1321:19:19181KayleighHindFElvet Striders
1331:21:11199AshleighLafaurieF
1341:21:12125JamesAshtonMCoalfields Tri
1351:26:56192SarahJuliffFBlackhill Bounders

Willow Miner Trail Race 2021

Elvet Striders are delighted to once again host the Willow Miner Trail Race, on Wednesday, 21st July 2021, at 7pm.

This year’s race is kindly sponsored by Start Fitness. 

We are proud to be holding the race in aid of Mind (reg. charity 219830) and The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation (reg. charity 1057213), supporting mental health and cancer research.

The Course

The course covers 5.7 miles of beautiful trail through woodland and nature reserve, those returning to the race can witness how the woodland trust has grown and matured since the inception of the event. After a winding start through Houghall woods, the course drops into the undulating section of the Durham Woodland Trust, climbing up to views over the River Wear and Croxdale Woods before descending to wildflower meadows and around to the Willow Lady. A single-track section along the bank of the River Wear leads to a climb up towards the Willow Miner, before traversing back to Houghall Woods and the finish. The route will be fully marked and marshalled.

Entries

Entries for the race cost £9, or £7 for attached club runners. Please visit our SiEntries page to enter.

Please note that to enter as a UKA attached athlete you must enter your own UKA number, available to look up on England Athletics’ site.

Event Details

Parking will be at the Graham Sports Centre (Maiden Castle), DH1 3SE as in previous years. Note that New Elvet Bridge in Durham is currently closed, which may affect your route to the event.

Toilets will be available inside the sports centre. It is likely that face coverings will still be required in order to enter the sports centre buildings. Depending on government and local restrictions on race day, showers may also be available and this will be made clear in the lead up to the event. 

Registration, start and finish have moved from the football field to the farm at Houghall College. This will be signposted and marshalled from the car park. Registration will open at 6pm. The specific start arrangements will be confirmed closer to the race date in accordance with current government guidance but we hope to be able to provide a mass start.

There is no required kit list, however the course covers some steep, muddy and uneven sections so trail or fell shoes are highly recommended both for grip and reducing the chance of ankle injuries. In the event of inclement weather a waterproof top may also be required. There will be space to leave luggage not needed for the race by the start.  

Sadly, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and uncertainty around restrictions, there has been no social event or post race food arranged at present while we work to deliver the best race we can, though water will still be provided at the finish. We hope to return to the after-race celebration next year!

Mark Kearney Wins Hardmoors 110

Mark receives the winner’s sword from race director Jon Steele

Mark Kearney achieves a brilliant win in ultra-marathon on the North York Moors.

The Hardmoors 110 is a gruelling 110 mile race beginning in Filey in Yorkshire, following the cliff tops and moors of the Cleveland Way, and finishing in Helmsley. It includes nearly 15,000 feet of ascent. This years event began on Saturday 29th May, in sunny and warm conditions.

Mark completed his victory in 22 hours, 28 minutes and 30 seconds, more than an hour ahead of his nearest rival, reaching the finish line at nearly half past six on Sunday morning, after a day and a night on the hills. He received great running support on the way by Striders Michael Littlewood, Stephen Jackson, Georgie Hebdon, Stuart Scott and Elaine Bisson.

Jill Young and Simon Graham were, to quote Mark, “the best support crew I could ever ask for” making sure he was fed and watered and in top condition throughout the whole race.

Congratulations to Mark on a wonderful achievement.

Willow Miner Trail Race Results 2019

Bib No.First NameLast NameCategoryAffiliated ClubTimePosPos in catCategory Winners
95StephenJacksonMSENElvet Striders32.2011Race Winner
133SteveRankinMSENSunderland Harriers & AC33.46222nd Male
112MichaelMasonMVET40Elvet Striders34.31311st Mvet40/3rd Male
54JonDixonMSENTriology / Bike Science North East34.4843
169GraemeWattMVET40Elvet Striders35.3352
161MattWalkerMSENDurham City Harriers & AC35.3864
108MichaelLittlewoodMVET40Elvet Striders35.5473
32LauraCheethamFSENJesmond Joggers36.25811st Female
170PaulWeirMVET4036.4394
79TomHamiltonMSENElvet Striders36.51105
58ChrisDwyerMSENSunderland Strollers37.12116
66DezFieldenMVET40Aycliffe Running Club37.22125
99JohnKellyMSENWashington Running Club37.33137
115PaddyMcshaneMSENJarrow & Hebburn AC37.47148
105JamesLeeMVET40Elvet Striders37.57156
48PaulDaltonMVET40Quakers Running Club38.19167
162DavidWalkerMVET50Sedgefield Harriers38.391711st MVet50
156EmmaThompsonFSENElvet Striders38.421822nd Female
1AndrewArnellMVET40Royal Navy Athletics Club39.06198
15MikeBoweMVET40Derwent Valley Trail Runners39.29209
3PhilipAtkinsonMVET40Birtley AC39.412110
165MilWaltonMVET40Sedgefield Harriers40.132211
25NickButchartMVET40Washington Running Club40.242312
38JuanCorbacho AntonMSENElvet Striders40.29249
94RobertHulseMSENBlaydon Harriers & AC40.392510
124DarrenParksMVET40Jarrow & Hebburn AC40.572613
125RobinParsonsMVET40Elvet Striders41.022714
131NeilProcterMVET40Sunderland Strollers41.042815
76PeteHallMSEN41.192911
122NickNewbyMVET40Birtley AC41.273016
151JohnSutcliffeMVET40North Shields Polytechnic Club41.323117
23IanBrownMVET60Stocksfield Striders41.453211st Mvet60
13JohnBissonMVET40Elvet Striders41.513318
86GeoffHewitsonMVET60Crook & District AC41.57342
55LeeDrummondMVET40Birtley AC42.013519
89RichardHollandMVET40Aycliffe Running Club42.013620
113LindsayMcEwanMVET4042.083721
8AnnaBasuFVET40Elvet Striders42.183811stVet40/3rd Female
42MalcolmCoxMVET60Sunderland Strollers42.31393
168CarlWatsonMVET50Low Fell Running Club42.43402
114AllanMcmanusMSENSunderland Harriers & AC42.584112
175DALEWILKINSONMVET50Sunderland Harriers & AC43.01423
17RachelBrehenyFSENSouth Shields Harriers & AC43.04433
39NikCortonMVET50Elvet Striders43.33444
97StevenJonesMVET4043.374522
106JohnLiddleMVET4043.474623
46LeeCuthbertMVET40Durham City Harriers & AC43.514724
118CraigMillerMSEN43.554813
166RosieWarnettFSENSedgefield Harriers43.59494
83AndrewHeavisideMVET40Crook & District AC44.065025
91MichaelHoweMVET40Washington Running Club44.195126
144DanShoulderMVET4044.385227
70MichaelGaskillMVET40Crook & District AC44.395328
41VikkiCottonFSENSunderland Harriers & AC44.48545
157IanThompsonMSENCrook & District AC45.015514
171MichaelWheatleyMSEN45.175615
37ClaireCookFSENGateshead Harriers & AC45.31576
80MatthewHardcastleMSENStocksfield Striders45.335816
5RachelBallFSENSunderland Strollers45.38597
50SarahDaviesFVET50Elvet Striders45.396011st FVet50
72PaulGriffinFVET50Stocksfield Striders46.00612
63StevenFairbairnMVET4046.016229
103BrettLambertMVET40Aycliffe Running Club46.056330
119DanMitchellMVET40Elvet Striders46.126431
27IanButlerMVET50Elvet Striders46.19655
182PriyanMistry46.2166
29KevinCarraharMVET50Windle Valley Runners46.29676
28MarcusByronMVET50Tynedale Harriers & AC46.42687
137SusanScottFVET40Elvet Striders46.52692
20MatthewBrimmMVET40Coundon Striders47.007032
146GrahamSoadyMVET40Sunderland Strollers47.057133
160NilsVespermannMSENTriAs Hildesheim47.327217
163MarieWalkerFVET50Sedgefield Harriers47.39733
178ClareWoodFVET40Elvet Striders47.48743
74HelenGuyFSENStocksfield Striders47.50758
44JamesCroftMVET50Houghton Harriers & AC47.55768
159LyneValentineFVET60Sunderland Strollers47.587711st Fvet60
153MalcolmSygroveMVET50Elvet Striders48.14789
176AlanWilksMVET70Aycliffe Running Club48.347911st Mvet70
134ShaunRobertsMVET60Elvet Striders48.37804
71SimonGentMVET40North Shields Polytechnic Club48.508134
85TracyHendersonFVET40Sedgefield Harriers48.51824
65AndrewFeatherstoneMSENSedgefield Harriers48.558318
53AndrewDixonMSENQuakers Running Club49.148419
147GemmaSoulsbyFSENElvet Striders49.33859
78PhilipHalseMVET40Low Fell Running Club49.398635
49AndrewDaviesMVET40Elvet Striders49.408736
24TonyBrownMVET50Stocksfield Striders49.548810
84IanHedleyMSENSedgefield Harriers49.568920
35LouiseCollinsFSENElvet Striders50.019010
120KevinMorsonMSENElvet Striders50.029121
69LesleyGarnhamFVET50Aurora Harriers50.09924
6CoyahBallettaMSEN50.179322
139JennySearchFVET40Elvet Striders50.22945
164ElizabethWallaceFVET40Elvet Striders50.40956
167MarcWatsonMVET40Elvet Striders50.469637
180ChristineWoodsFVET60Durham City Harriers & AC50.52972
16JeanBradleyFVET60Elvet Striders51.01983
73MaritaGrimwoodFVET40Elvet Striders51.03997
174JacquelineWhittakerFVET50Aurora Harriers51.181005
40PeterCoserMVET4051.1910138
148CherylStanleyFVET40Low Fell Running Club51.221028
43RobCraigMVET50Sunderland Strollers51.2510311
93JANEHUGHESFSEN51.2710411
117SusanMilburnFVET60Aycliffe Running Club51.331054
116PeterMilburnMVET50Aycliffe Running Club51.3410612
18SharonBridgeFVET40Crook & District AC51.451079
59LeeEgglestoneMSEN51.5310823
185LynneCarruthersFVET5052.001096
129JonathanPriestMVET5052.2611013
128AshleyPrice-SabateFVET50Elvet Striders52.351117
127JanPraterFVET40Sunderland Strollers52.4411210
57RachelDurrandFSENElvet Striders52.4511312
56KayDrummondFVET40Birtley AC52.5211411
2JenniferArthurFSENDurham City Harriers & AC52.5711513
172LucyWhelanFSENElvet Striders52.5811614
51SarahDelaneyFVET40Newcastle Frontrunners53.2111712
4RonAveryMVET60Sunderland Strollers53.381185
26LouiseButchartFVET40Washington Running Club53.5511913
107BecksLippeFVET40Elvet Striders54.0212014
140ChristineSmithFVET40Sunderland Strollers54.0612115
75AdrianHallMSENTyne Bridge Harriers54.2112224
154KathrynSygroveFVET50Elvet Striders54.261238
179DianeWoodFVET50Durham City Harriers & AC54.261249
150JohnStephensonMVET6054.381256
22LynBrownFVET60Stocksfield Striders54.411265
81FionaHarrington-HughesFVET40Elvet Striders54.4712716
177AngelaWilliamsFVET50Elvet Striders54.5312810
64SarahFawcettFVET50Elvet Striders54.5412911
130KathPriestFVET40Elvet Striders54.5913017
77VickiHalseFSENLow Fell Running Club55.1213115
123PercyParkinMVET70Crook & District AC55.141322
82ChristineHearmonFVET50Sedgefield Harriers55.2513312
126BeverleyPhillippoFVET50Aycliffe Running Club55.5013413
7EmmaBarnettFVET4056.1513518
183JackAcresMSEN56.4213625
158PhilipToddMVET40Elvet Striders56.4413739
92PeterHoylandMSEN56.5113826
61StephenEllisMVET60Elvet Striders57.061397
68MonitaGarnettFVET6057.081406
62SarahFairbairnFVET4057.1814119
138CatherineScottFVET50Durham Mums on the Run57.2714214
143AlanSmithMVET70Elvet Striders57.431433
60JanetEllisFVET50Elvet Striders57.4414415
30GeorgeCawkwellMVET70Crook & District AC58.111454
45FrancescaCurryFSEN58.2414616
90JoanneHopeFSENCrook & District AC58.5114717
135DeborahRobinsonFVET40Aurora Harriers59.2114820
181CharolotteRobertsFVET6059.251497
9NatalieBedworthFSEN61.0115018
111JojoMaddisonFSEN61.1015119
121SarahMortonFSEN61.1015220
149AnnaStephensonFSEN61.1015321
31StephanieCharltonFSEN61.1115422
52VickiDiasFSEN61.1115523
87SharronHogarthFVET50Crook & District AC61.1815616
100AdrianKelsallMVET50Washington Running Club61.1915714
101LauraKennedyFVET50Washington Running Club61.1915817
104JamesLatchamMVET4061.4815940
109WendyLynchFVET50Low Fell Running Club61.5216018
11KathleenBellamyFVET40Elvet Striders63.1616121
36JillConnollyFVET60Sunderland Strollers63.451628
98SarahJuliffFSENBlackhill Bounders65.0516324
184CarolGreenFVET4065.1316422
10FionaBellFVET40Blackhill Bounders66.2116523
12FrankBestMVET60Coundon Striders68.141668
142AlisonSmithFVET40Elvet Striders68.4516724
102AntonyRobsonMSEN69.1316827
14IreneBlayFVET60Blackhill Bounders71.471699
47SueCuthbertsonFVET60Sunderland Strollers73.1717010
96ZoeJamesonFVET40Sunderland Strollers73.1717125
145JacquelineSoadyFVET40Sunderland Strollers73.5617226
141ClaireSmithFVET40Sunderland Strollers74.0017327
33KathrynClarkFVET40Elvet Striders80.5217428
173DavidWhiteMVET70Durham City Harriers & AC87.581755

Willow Miner Trail Race Results 2017

That’s all folks! See you all next year!

Results

BibFirst NameLast NameCatClubTimePoscatposprize
75StephenJacksonMSENElvet Striders32.28111msen
76MikeJefferiesMSENRichmond & Zetland Harriers32.38222msen
48LiamEmmettMSENJarrow & Hebburn AC33.21333msen
56JonathanGilroyMSENJarrow & Hebburn AC34.3844
88MichaelLittlewoodMVET40Elvet Striders35.47511mvet40
149MarkWarnerMSENElvet Striders36.1765fasterstrider not in cat
47KevinEmmettMVET50Jarrow & Hebburn AC36.35711mvet50
142GaryThwaitesMVET40Sedgefield Harriers36.54822mvet40
158LiamWintripMSEN37.0596
54JamesGarlandMVET40Elvet Striders37.121033mvet40
66PeterHarrisonMVET40Durham City Harriers & AC37.141143mvet40
12MartinBlenkinsoppMVET40Sunderland Harriers & AC37.27125
131AlexSneddonFSENJarrow & Hebburn AC37.281311fsen
159PaulWintripMSENRun Peterlee37.46147
40StevenDicksonMVET4037.49156
152PaulWeirMVET40Durham City Harriers & AC37.55167
91BrianMartinMVET60Quakers Running Club38.161711mvet60
7GaryBaileyMVET40Run Peterlee38.25188
37MarkDavinsonMVET40Derwentside AC38.59199
108NickNewbyMVET40Birtley AC39.022010
84JamesLeeMVET40Elvet Striders39.32111
18DavidBrownMSENElvet Striders39.38228
120ThomasReevesMVET50Elvet Striders39.522322mvet50
145DavidWalkerMVET50Sedgefield Harriers40.032433mvet50
125StuartScottMSENElvet Striders40.222510
70LeeHetheringtonMVET40South Shields Harriers & AC40.272612
65GaryHargraveMVET40Sunderland Strollers40.412713
25DanielCarneyMSENElvet Striders40.472811
10ElaineBissonFSENElvet Striders40.52922fsen
16PennyBrowellFVET4040.53011fvet40
71GeoffHewitsonMVET50Crook & District AC40.56314
41LeeDrummondMVET40Birtley AC41.093214
112DarrenParksMVET40Jarrow & Hebburn AC41.253315
135JohnSutcliffeMSENNorth Shields Polytechnic Club41.263412
141MichaelThorntonMVET50Jarrow & Hebburn AC41.27355
153DaleWilkinsonMVET50Sunderland Strollers41.48366
74TamsinImberFVET40Elvet Striders41.543722fvet40
21NickButchartMVET40Washington Running Club41.563816
52SteveForemanMVET40Sedgefield Harriers42.023917
24RaymondCarmichaelMVET40Sedgefield Harriers42.094018
31ChrisClarkeMSENWashington Running Club42.424113
103RobertMorrisMVET40Sunderland Strollers42.494219
134MarkSunleyMVET50Run Peterlee42.52437
97AllanMcmanusMSENSunderland Harriers & AC42.544414
28PaulCartwrightMSENRun Peterlee43.034515
36VikkiCottonFSENSunderland Harriers & AC43.054633fsen
148LouiseWarnerFSENElvet Striders43.07474fasterstrider not in cat
29NeillCassonMSENBirtley AC43.364816
20PaulBurnMVET5043.51498
157StephenWinshipMVET50Elvet Striders43.52509
133ChrisSumsionMVET50Tyne Bridge Harriers43.545110
34PhilipConnorMSENElvet Striders445217
86MalcolmLeeceMVET40Jarrow & Hebburn AC44.015320
6BrianBailesMVET50Birtley AC44.125411
55SimonGentMSENNorth Shields Polytechnic Club44.145518
44CatherineEatonFSENTyne Bridge Harriers44.22565
90BarryMarleeMVET40Sunderland Harriers & AC44.315721
105LouiseMortonFSENElvet Striders44.32586
115RichardPodmoreMSENElvet Striders44.365919
79EJohnstonFSENTyne Bridge Harriers45.14607
50AnthonyErskineMVET40Sunderland Harriers & AC45.26122
9MichaelBirdMVET50Hunwick Harriers45.336212
85Paul LeeLeeMVET50Sedgefield Harriers45.396313
101PeterMilburnMVET50Aycliffe Running Club46.296414
53DavidFrancisMVET40Birtley AC46.376523
33MartinColbornMVET40Run Peterlee46.386624
87SuzanneLewis-DaleFSENNorth Shields Polytechnic Club46.39678
138MalcolmSygroveMVET50Elvet Striders46.456815
121ShaunRobertsMVET60Elvet Striders476922mvet60
27KevinCarraharMVET50Sunderland Harriers & AC47.067016
127JudithShottonFVET50Sunderland Harriers & AC47.147111fvet50
82BrettLambertMVET40Aycliffe Running Club47.247225
81JaniceKellyFVET4047.297333fvet40
147GillianWallaceFVET40South Shields Harriers & AC47.4744
45ChrisEdwardsMSENElvet Striders48.167520
107JoanneNewbyFVET40Birtley AC48.25765
35KatherineConwayFSENWashington Running Club48.38779
110NatashaNewsonFSENNorth Shields Polytechnic Club48.47810
77LauraJenningsFSENElvet Striders48.437911
150RosieWarnettFSENSedgefield Harriers48.448012
15DavidBrowbankMSENElvet Striders48.458121
58SimonGrahamMSENTeam Coco48.518222
160StephanieYoungFVET50Birtley AC49.048322fvet50
137KathrynSygroveFVET50Elvet Striders49.118433fvet50
136RichardSutcliffeMVET4049.118526
43AndrewEatonMSENTyne Bridge Harriers49.218623
73BrianHurstMVET40Jarrow & Hebburn AC49.268727
104AdamMortonMSEN49.38824
94RachelleMASONFSENElvet Striders49.398913
126JennySearchFVET40Elvet Striders49.45906
68ChristineHearmonFVET50Sedgefield Harriers49.46914
67PeterHartMVET40Elvet Striders49.489228
14JillBridgesFSENRun Peterlee49.539314
32NicoleClarkeFSENWashington Running Club50.019415
57TracyGlaisterFVET40Sedgefield Harriers50.03957
102SusanMilburnFVET50Aycliffe Running Club50.11965
69IanHedleyMSEN50.179725
146MarieWalkerFVET40Sedgefield Harriers50.27988
13AdamBridgesMSENRun Peterlee50.499926
62MaritaGrimwoodFVET40Elvet Striders50.561009
17AlexBrownMVET40Elvet Striders5110129
11ChloeBlackFSENElvet Striders51.0410216
118JaneRannsFSENElvet Striders51.0410317
59BobGrattonMVET50Sedgefield Harriers51.0610417
113DebPennickFSENRichmond & Zetland Harriers51.0710518
132IanSpencerMVET50Elvet Striders51.1310618
154JocelynWilkinsonFSENRun Peterlee52.1510719
5PhilipAtkinsonMVET40Birtley AC52.1510830
1EmmaAldersonFSENElvet Striders52.2510920
143LauraToddFSENRun Peterlee52.3511021
3LloydAshbyMVET40Crook & District AC52.5511131
129AlanSmithMVET70Elvet Striders53.2811211mvet70
83GaryLaveryMVET40Run Peterlee53.3211332
92PaulMartinMVET4053.5711433
123JillRudkinFVET40Elvet Striders54.1311510
51SarahFawcettFVET50Elvet Striders54.151166
117AshleyPrice-SabateFVET50Elvet Striders54.581177
93SandraMartinFVET50Quakers Running Club55.051189
156SarahWilsonFVET50Quakers Running Club55.5311910
122DavidRoundMVET50Sedgefield Harriers56.212019
100KarenMettersFVET40Elvet Striders56.3112111
49TraceyEmmettFVET40Jarrow & Hebburn AC56.4212212
42AndrewDunlopMVET40Elvet Striders56.5812334
4SamAskeyFVET40Elvet Striders57.0312413
116JudithPorterFVET60Aycliffe Running Club57.1912511fvet60
98DebbieMcRoryFVET50Sunderland Harriers & AC59.5512611
39ZoeDewdney ParsonsFSENElvet Striders59.5612722
64DenisHargraveMVET70Sunderland Strollers61.2312822mvet70
60SandraGreenerFVET40Elvet Striders62.1812914
46JanetEllisFVET50Elvet Striders62.213012
139LauraTedstoneFVET40Sunderland66.4113115
22KayCairnsFSENElvet Striders73.5213223