Category Archives: Report

Harrier League, Alnwick, Saturday, March 17, 2018

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


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

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

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

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

or enter some races at the NEGP (all ages)

An exciting season starts in May for both fixtures.

Katy And Lesley

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

AL / 34km / 1373m

Paul Evans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dentdale Run, Saturday, March 10, 2018

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


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

Endurancelife CTS Northumberland Marathon, Bamburgh, Northumberland, Saturday, February 24, 2018

Lesley Hamill

When Karen asked me if I fancied signing up for this race last year, I automatically assumed she meant the half marathon. After all, we were already booked to do the Paris Marathon in April…When she told me she’d entered the marathon, I was a bit apprehensive, but having checked with Kate Macpherson (who wrote my last marathon plan) that it wasn’t a completely mad idea, I signed up.

Training began in November, I dug out the training plan we had used for the Liverpool marathon last year, (the one I didn’t get to run as I fell and broke my wrist a few weeks before the race). Karen and I decided to run the long runs easy, as neither of us had done an off-road marathon before, and certainly weren’t going for a time.

Many of our long runs were done in some awful weather conditions – snow, ice, wind, rain. We kept telling ourselves this would stand us in good stead for the race itself, which it did! Luckily the weather on the day of the race was really kind to us.

When my alarm went off at 05.10 on the morning of the race, I did wonder what on earth I was doing! I crept out of the house to get picked up by Karen’s husband who was driving us to Kate’s house. Kate had very kindly offered to drive us up to the start at Bamburgh, for which we were really grateful! It was a freezing cold morning, but the heated seats in Kate’s new car warmed me up nicely!

When we arrived in Bamburgh it was the most beautiful morning, the sun was just coming up and it looked like it was going to be a lovely day. It was still windy and freezing cold, but we’d soon warm up once we started running. We headed to registration, and as we’d arrived in good time there was no queue, so we picked up our numbers and timing chips (which we had to wear on our wrists) and could get ourselves ready without any stress. There was even no queue for the (proper) toilets – bliss!

It was lovely to meet up with some other runners from Durham, and at 08.30 we were told to gather in the courtyard for the briefing. This was really informative and light-hearted, we were told which signs to look out for so we didn’t get lost, what to do with our timing chips at the checkpoints, and what to do in case of an emergency. We then boarded the coaches which took us to the start at Alnwick Castle. We climbed over a fence, headed for the flags, luckily didn’t need the toilet again as there were none, and at 09.30 we were off! We ran along by the river Aln, a bit claggy in places, but nothing too bad. Crossing the river on the stepping-stones was a bit nerve-wracking, but luckily I didn’t fall in! We then ran under the Alnmouth viaduct, where a nice runner from Finland offered to take our photo. We were on the roads after this and headed for Alnmouth harbour where the first checkpoint was. It was nice to be able to stop at the checkpoints, put our timing chips into the machine, fill up water bottles and grab a bite to eat. We were off again, following the extremely well-marked course, and onto our first beach of the day at Almouth.

Just wow, so beautiful! I felt really lucky to be running on such a beautiful day in such a stunning setting. We ran through Boulmer, found a toilet (phew!) and off we went again to Longhoughton and then lovely Craster. Soon we could see Dunstanburgh Castle in the distance – yay!

Another stop for some photos (it would have been rude not to!) There were quite a few people out on the paths here, so we slowed down a bit, it was also quite challenging terrain so we were happy to take it easy!

We ran through Low Newton and on to Checkpoint 3. This was the key checkpoint as you had to make it here before 2.20 – luckily, we were much earlier than this. Another stop to chat to the very friendly marshals, fill up bottles again and grab some more food. I had brought loads with me. Normally I would use gels for fuel, but chose a Clif bar and shot bloks for this race, which worked really well.

We ran on to Beadnell beach – this was a particularly stunning part of the course as there were quite a few kite-surfers in the sea, which was an amazing sight! Cue another photo stop – why not! I felt like I was on familiar territory now as my parents have a caravan in Seahouses and it was lovely to run on the beach and through the town. Fortunately, we didn’t have to run past the fish and chip shops!

Back on to the beach now and the final stretch towards Bamburgh castle. The marshals at the final checkpoint confirmed it was only 2 miles to the finish – brilliant! I picked up a bit of speed on the beach, the wind was behind us and the tide was out (thankfully!). I hit 27 miles, but no sign of the castle? Had someone moved it? Had I missed a sign somewhere and gone the wrong way? Luckily, I passed a few other runners, some doing the Ultra (who had to get to the Castle then do an additional 8 miles on the roads to make up to 35 miles).

A man who was supporting his brother on the Ultra told me to aim for the white flags, which finally I reached, phew. But the castle is at the top of a hill of course, which meant climbing up the dunes to get there, aaaaaargh. After 27 miles, my legs were not up for an uphill sprint finish, so I power walked up, cheered on by Jacquie Robson and lots of supporters at the top. Round the corner and there was the finish – at last!! Gave in my timing chip and got a printout with my time on straight away, very efficient!

Medal, t-shirt (nice colour blue!) and cheered Karen in. Quick change (well as quickly as our aching bodies would allow), on with lots of layers and into the café to refuel – lovely! No post-race medal photo as we were too cold!

All in all, I would recommend this race to anyone. There is a 10K, half marathon and ultra (all on the same day). The race organisation is superb, the course is extremely well marked so no chance of getting lost, and the whole route is absolutely stunning.

Harrier League, Thornley Hall Farm, Saturday, February 10, 2018

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

Nick Latham

Courtesy of Joanne PattersonBrutal and brilliant – two adjectives for the North East Harrier League cross-country race at Thornley Hall Farm. All right, brutal may be overstating it a bit, but “quite hard” doesn’t alliterate and isn’t as catchy.
This race was a first for me in many ways. Having joined Striders a couple of months ago, it was my first race as a Strider, my first outing in a Club vest and my first cross-country race. I’ve done plenty of road and trail races before but this was new territory. Cross country was always the punishment, sorry, PE lesson that many of us dreaded at school. Now I’m much older and a little wiser, I reckon that if it’s good enough for current and past pros (Mo Farah, Paula Radcliffe, Charlie Spedding, Julian Goater etc. etc.), it’s got to be good for all of us.
I’d arranged to travel with Anna Basu and Roz Layton and was grateful to share the short journey from Durham with them. Parking wasn’t the trauma I’d feared and we arrived with plenty of time to amble along to the top of the race field and find the tent.
I was realistic about my expectations going into this race. I looked at the results from the previous year and had a good idea of where I would likely come out even if it was a road event and it was unlikely I’d be contributing to the scoring. Regardless, I went out determined to race as hard as I could regardless of the (lack of) impact I might have on the results.
We had a good turnout for both teams, with more men arriving as race time approached. The weather was cold but with no rain; there was a chill in the wind, but that seemed to die off while we were waiting to get going; a big blessing. With a fair amount of rain, sleet and snow over the previous weeks and several hundred pairs of feet covering the course before us, it was distinctly “soft & sticky” underfoot. Or a bogfest as our Chairman so elegantly put it on Strava.
The course was also being run in the reverse direction to 2017. One of the marshals thought this would make it easier. I still don’t believe him. The reversed course put a short, sharp grassy uphill after the first couple of hundred metres. Don’t they always look worse from the bottom than the top? The route was both a blessing and a curse – it was great to have the Club tents right at the top of this climb, with loads of encouragement, but that meant I ended up pushing into the red for each of the three laps.
I promised myself I wasn’t going to do it, I wasn’t going to fall into that newbie trap that Mike Barlow and I were talking about beforehand…but I still set off too fast. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who did, but by about half a mile into the first lap I was feeling dreadful – my legs were like lead and I didn’t feel like I could push on at all on the flats and downhills like I’d intended. Sweeping down to the southern part of the course we hit the first of the real mud and I’ve never run through anything like it before. It sucked all the power out of my legs and this proved harder to me than any of the hills. I realised then that I was going to have to adapt my tactics if I was going to avoid a DNF.
I decided that I would do something I hate doing on any run and that’s walk. I allowed myself, provided I contained it to the worst sections and still kept moving as fast as I could. I quickly noticed that anyone who was passing me (other than the fast pack) wasn’t really going much quicker anyway and by keeping my heart-rate in check I could pick the pace back up again when the gradient eased and I would pull away from them again.
The first lap (is that only the first one?) felt like purgatory. Somewhere around the middle of the second lap, either my changed tactics started to pay off or the endorphins finally kicked in; I started to feel better and could push-on harder outside of the uphills. I settled into the ebb and flow, frequently swapping places with a couple of runners from Blackhill and Blyth plus our own Philip Connor. As we headed into the last half mile, I could see Andrew Davies about 12 places ahead of me across the field – too far to make up by that point – but was second in our cluster of four behind the Blyth runner.
I’d sussed on the previous laps that the mud on the final descent was sticky enough to hold my feet so I could pick up speed down into the finish funnel and this allowed me to get away from the other three. I dug into the last of my reserves and made sure I wasn’t going to be caught on the run-in. From the noise, there was a great crowd of purple & green support at the finish and that gave me the boost I needed to wring out the final effort. I don’t remember seeing anyone, I was so focused on reaching the line. I also didn’t see what happened to Philip but he broke clear of the other two to come in a few seconds behind me.
Anna and Roz were waiting when I came through the tapes. It was brilliant to see friendly faces to welcome me back. When I felt up to it we strolled back to the tent to find some very welcome goodies (thank you to those who brought, I’ll know for next time).
In the end, we had 22 men running and I led in the (incomplete) D team as “first” counter, placing 336 out of 414 overall and bang in line with where I expected to be.
The women’s team had a fantastic day. Fiona Brannan was 3rd and the team placed first – brilliant results all round.
It was great to be part of the team and be really made to feel welcome. I just hope that one day I can repay the Club with a result which contributes to our placing in some way!
Will I do it again? Absolutely. Why? Because no matter where you finish, you’re supporting and representing your Club. Even if you don’t count towards the placed team, you can displace runners from other clubs and increase their score; by my reckoning, that’s what 5 of our women’s B &C team and 3 of our men’s B team finishers did. It’s also great for developing your running strength, both physical and psychological. It’s a fair trade for the mud!


posbibnamecatpackrace timeactual time
11864Karl Taylor (Morpeth Harriers & AC)MV35S37:1337:13
69545Stuart OrdMsenS44:2144:21
109523Michael LittlewoodMV40M45:1642:46
110485Chris CallanMV35F45:2340:23
138524Michael MasonMV40F46:0841:08
141519Matt ClaydonMV40S46:1146:11
154520Matthew ArcherMV35M46:3244:02
157546Stuart ScottMV35M46:4244:12
162516Mark GriffithsMV40M46:5044:20
215538Scott WatsonMV55M48:2445:54
228496David GibsonMV50S48:4948:49
231525Mike BarlowMV40S48:5448:54
248548Timothy SkeltonMV35S49:4049:40
252507James GarlandMV40M50:0947:39
271534Richard HockinMV65S51:0451:04
286487Conrad WhiteMV60S51:4451:44
305526Mike BennettMV60S52:3652:36
3211826Aaron GourleyMV35S54:1154:11
325481Andrew DaviesMV40S54:2854:28
3381846Nick LathamMV40S55:2155:21
339533Philip ConnorMsenS55:2455:24
354511Jonathan HamillMV40S56:4456:44
375547Tim MatthewsMV50S59:2059:20
posbibnamecatpackrace timeactual time
1644Emma Holt (Morpeth Harriers & AC)FF29:2626:06
31317Fiona BrannanFsenS31:1131:11
23412Emma ThompsonFV35F34:2131:01
26451Rachael BullockFsenS34:2734:27
30410Elaine BissonFV35F34:3731:17
86395Anna BasuFV40M36:5535:15
104452Rachelle MasonFV35M37:3535:55
109449Nina MasonFV40S37:5237:52
145461Stef BarlowFV40S39:2439:24
164455Roz LaytonFV65S40:2340:23
169459Sarah FawcettFV55S40:4440:44
173420Jan YoungFV65S41:0241:02
246437Kerry BarnettFV45S51:1751:17

Grizedale Trail 26, Sunday, February 4, 2018

26.8 miles

Dougie Nisbet

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

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

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

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

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

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

great views of snowy peaks

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

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

Support comes in all forms. Photo by Roberta Marshall.

Gran Canaria Marathon, Sunday, January 21, 2018

Dougie Nisbet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Georgengarten parkrun #8, Hannover, Germany, Saturday, January 20, 2018

Jonathan Hamill

Photo courtesy of Georgengarten parkrun

Having enjoyed a visit to Georgengarten parkrun during a business trip in December, I found myself in a similar position during January.

Arriving at the Herrenhäuser Allee, I met the friendly core team again. I also met a couple of visitors from London in apricot parkrun t-shirts and Nina from Ireland who told me about some other running options in the local area.

The temperature was a mild improvement over my previous visit but it was still cold! Putting it another way, I was in a clear minority wearing shorts. I took a warm-up along the tree-lined avenue and observed that the Georgengarten had survived Storm Frederike well, with only some damage to the trees towards the Willhelm Busch Museum.

We lined up, and I had the advantage of knowing the course this time – basically just over a mile of straight gravel path towards Hannover, and then a switch back to follow the twists and turns of the Georgengarten park back to the start/finish at the beginning of the Herrenhäuser Allee.

And we were off! I ran down the tree-lined gravel path, perhaps a second or two faster than my previous attempt but on the twists and turns, I found the going tough with the accumulation of miles in my legs from and after Brass Monkey Half Marathon the previous weekend.

Photo courtesy of Dirk Große (Georgengarten parkrun core team)

I managed to improve my time and placing finishing 5th and 1st VM40-44, in 23:05 (from 7th finisher and 23:28 in December). Perhaps the lack of Christmas markets and obligatory Glühwein helped.

I joined some of the finishers and core team across the road at the Steinecke bakery for post-run coffee and cake before saying goodbye.

Once again, a hugely enjoyable parkrun in Germany which seems to be attracting more runners. Thanks to the volunteer team for their efforts!


Brass Monkey Half Marathon, York Racecourse, Sunday, January 14, 2018

Stephen Jackson

Ok, so it’s not for everyone, but I love the Brass Monkey half marathon. As long as my legs are strong enough, and my internet speed is quick enough, I’ll enter this race.
What better way to start the year?

The plan was to head out somewhere near PB pace or a little quicker and see how I felt. Never likely to trouble the lead pack in a highly competitive field this was more about seeing where ‘I’m at’ at the beginning of 2018.

After a fairly frantic start, I settled at the back of the second group, with the front-runners disappearing into the distance with the lead car. There was another break at 5k and I was in or around 15th position with some familiar faces, many from the North East (I was to finish 13th).

I found the first half (the ‘out’ of the out-and-back race) the hardest, I think this was due to the brisk start coupled with a headwind. I actually felt better at 10 miles than I did at 5. I ran from just before halfway with Michael Hedley from Tyne Bridge Harriers, not for the first time over the half marathon distance.

The conditions were good; cold but not freezing, no rain, not too much wind.

It was all there for the taking but in the end, I felt I had a good race, not a great one. This is a race you can achieve something special and I fell just short based on the high standards I set myself. That said, a PB is a PB – you shouldn’t be disappointed with a personal best: it is exactly what it says on the tin.

Also, if you’ve got the time – take the bus with fellow club members to a race this year. I know it’s difficult for people with families etc. to justify the best part of the day out of the house, but it really does make it a social ‘team’ event.

Overall PositionBibno.Finish time Chip time Participant Category
1124001.07.1501.07.12Jamie Parkinson
(M) Open Senior
72185401.19.0601.19.02Tracy Millmore
(F) V35
1382901.12.4501.12.41Stephen Jackson(M) Open Senior
30131101.15.0501.15.01Gareth Pritchard(M) V35
6997501.18.5001.18.44Michael Littlewood(M) V40
8524201.19.4801.19.43Chris Callan(M) V35
1024001.21.2601.21.19Matthew Archer(M) V35
144133701.23.0701.23.00Phil Ray(M) V35
19475901.25.4101.25.25David Hinton(M) Open Senior
19564101.25.4301.25.38Mark Griffiths(M) V40
265162801.28.4801.28.28Emma Thompson(F) V35
2693201.28.5201.28.45Michael Anderson(M) Open Senior
433134801.35.5101.35.24Allan Renwick(M) V45
4458501.36.1501.35.49Michael Barlow(M) V40
516112101.38.2501.37.57Dan Mitchell(M) V40
59767001.41.3001.41.01Jonathan Hamill(M) V40
771184801.47.3501.46.48Katy Walton(F) V35
78239001.47.5401.46.54Andrew Davies(M) V40
79270701.48.1101.47.09Peter Hart(M) V40
800144401.48.3801.47.36Anna Seeley(F) V35
85254301.50.4001.49.39Mark Foster(M) V35
936145001.53.4801.52.46Chris Shearsmith(M) V40
101697601.56.4601.55.58Wendy Littlewood(F) V35
1070141201.58.1701.57.15Lisa Sample(F) V35
108619701.58.3901.57.37Alex Brown(M) V45
1113150001.59.4401.58.42Catherine Smith(F) V40
11688602.01.5002.01.02Stephanie Barlow(F) V40
1180124502.02.2102.00.57Joanne Patterson(F) V35
130674002.09.4702.08.02Alison Heslop(F) V45
132886202.11.3702.10.02Debbie Jones(F) V45
1330105602.11.4202.10.06Debbie Mcfarland(F) Open Senior
1333129802.11.5602.10.21James Potter(M) V35
134451102.12.4702.11.01Kirsten Fenwick(F) V35
136721202.16.2602.14.41Vicky Brown(F) V35
14509002.30.4602.29.01Kerry Barnett(F) V45
146460202.36.4702.35.01Rebecca Gilmore(F) Open Senior
1481165602.51.5402.50.12Rachel Toth(F) V40