Category Archives: Report

Willow Miner Trail Race, Houghall Woods and Low Burnhall, Wednesday, July 11, 2018

5.6 miles

Sowerby Bridge Snails Running Club

Results
BibFirst NameLast NameCatClubTimePos Cat PosCat Winners
140StephenJacksonMSENElvet Striders32.1111MSEN + race winner
98RoryWoodsMSENDurham City Harriers & AC32.44222MSEN
54MichaelMasonMVET40Elvet Striders34.11311MV40
122MarkWarnerMSENElvet Striders35.02433MSEN
109IanPickettMVET40Tyne Bridge Harriers35.23522MV40
27MichaelLittlewoodMVET40Elvet Striders35.41633MV40
156ChrisDwyerMSENSunderland Strollers36.0174
82GaryThwaitesMVET40Sedgefield Harriers36.3384
90GraemeWattMVET4036.5595
42Stuart Scott MSENElvet Striders37.11051st strider not in cat
178David.WalkerWalkerMVET50Sedgefield Harriers38.021111MV50
40NickNewbyMVET40Birtley AC38.16126
13Jack LeeMSENElvet Striders39.03136
97LisaShortFVET40Birtley AC39.181411FV40 + first female
71AllanRenwickMVET40Elvet Striders39.46157
136GeoffHewitsonMVET60Crook & District AC40.151611MV60
30RuthDadswellFVET40Birtley AC40.241722FV40
85James ConwayMSEN40.28187
49AndrewSugdenMVET40New Marske Harriers AC40.54198
29BrianBailesMVET50Birtley AC41.142022MV50
105GaryHargraveMVET50Sunderland Strollers41.152133MV50
138Simon Dobson MVET40Elvet Striders41.39229
120JuanCorbacho AntonMSENElvet Striders42.09238
17SophieMcPhillipsFSEN42.162411FSEN
57DaleWilkinsonMVET50Sunderland Strollers42.25254
99MeghanMcCarthyFSENDurham Fell Runners43.212622FSEN
1AnnaBasuFVET40Elvet Striders43.282733FV40 + 1st female strider
102Kevin Doherty MVET40Sunderland Strollers43.412810
83IanButlerMVET50Elvet Striders44.22295
174PriyanMistryMSEN44.383010
176JilliannClappFSEN45.253133FSEN
93RachaelPerowneFVET40Tyne Bridge Harriers45.36324
73PavlosFarangitakisMSENElvet Striders45.443311
69Paul Agnew MVET40Birtley AC45.453411
7NatalieBellFSENElvet Striders45.533541st elvet female not in cat
94SarahDaviesFVET50Elvet Striders45.593611FV50
87GillianWallaceFVET40South Shields Harriers & AC46.1375
84Katherine ConwayFSENWashington Running Club46.3385
50JordiSabate VillaretMVET50Elvet Striders46.42396
172TomDavisonMSEN47.18409
55Trevor Chaytor MVET50Elvet Striders47.19417
16NelliBalaFSENElvet Striders47.26426
12BobGrattonMVET50Elvet Striders47.29438
63JackieMckennaFVET5047.334422FV50
15Janice Kelly FVET4048.09456
41StephanieYoungFVET50Birtley AC48.144633FV50
117Judith Shotton FVET50Sunderland Harriers & AC48.25474
91MichelleO_ÑéNeillFVET50Sunderland Strollers48.29485
79CherylStanleyFSENLow Fell Running Club48.34497
67AlexBrownMVET40Elvet Striders48.355012
143MaritaGrimwoodFVET40Elvet Striders48.38517
179MarieWalkerFVET50Sedgefield Harriers48.38526
43SallyRidingFVET50Birtley AC49.01537
21CraigFeltonMSEN49.025412
46Michael RossMVET4049.055513
112JaneHughesFSEN49.06568
125Felicity Conlon FVET40Washington Running Club49.35578
129MchelleBaysFVET50South Shields Harriers & AC50588
159David White MVET70Durham City Harriers & AC50.025911MV70
100ChristineWoodsFVET60Durham City Harriers & AC50.036011FV60
39JohnCorcoranMVET50Sunderland Strollers50.06619
34KayDrummondFVET40Birtley AC50.07629
153KeithPenmanMVET50Washington Running Club50.176310
147ChrisClarkMVET40Washington Running Club50.386414
56NinaJensenFVET40Claremont Road Runners50.476510
118KateBirkenheadFVET5051.03669
35SarahFawcettFVET50Elvet Striders51.296710
18CarolynGalulaFVET40Elvet Striders51.376811
137KarenDaglish FVET40Saltwell Harriers51.426912
133LynneCarruthersFVET50Durham City Harriers & AC52.037011
154ElizabethLambFVET60Durham City Harriers & AC52.157122FV60
145AnthonyForsterMVET50Washington Running Club52.317211
168DebbieNOBLEFVET50Run Peterlee52.337312
68ClaireMumfordFVET40Birtley AC52.487413
161TriciaClarkFVET5052.537513
116LisaIrvingFSEN53.13769
104MaddyMcCarthyFSEN53.237710
115LynBrownFVET60Stocksfield Striders53.337833FV60
114IanBrownMVET60Tynedale Harriers & AC53.347922MV60
108AllisonBirdFVET50Sunderland Strollers53.358014
28JocelynWilkinsonFSENRun Peterlee54.018111
127TimMatthewsMVET50Elvet Striders54.098212
146BeverleyForsterFVET5054.268315
101Nicola CarrFVET40Sunderland Strollers54.368414
51StuartHENDERSON MVET50Run Peterlee54.578513
167ClaireClaire Woodroffe-SmithFVET40Sunderland Strollers558615
177ChristineHearmonFVET50Sedgefield Harriers55.068716
44AndrewMunro MVET40Elvet Striders56.18815
32AlanSmithMVET70Elvet Striders56.178922MV70
128AngiEffardFVET50South Shields Harriers & AC56.399017
135JeanetteHewitsonFVET50South Shields Harriers & AC56.399118
62RebeccaTalbotFVET40Elvet Striders57.359216
175ChrisLoweMSEN589313
134CatherinePolleyFVET40Sunderland Strollers58.479417
113AnneHughesFVET5058.579519
96JillConnollyFVET50Sunderland Strollers59.179620
106DenisHargraveMVET70Sunderland Strollers59.399733MV70
111AndrewSwanstonMVET50Saltwell Harriers59.449814
119JoanneWollastonFVET40Saltwell Harriers59.449918
150CarolGreenFVET40Washington Running Club60.0610019
149LauraKennedyFVET50Washington Running Club60.1410121
141LouiseArmstrong FSEN60.2810212
152GeorgeCawkwellMVET70Crook & District AC60.451034
72JudithPorterFVET60Aycliffe Running Club61.091044
107KirstyWiltonFVET40Sunderland Strollers62.1110520
166ZoÕ‰JamesonFVET40Sunderland Strollers64.4610621
89SueCuthbertsonFVET50Sunderland Strollers64.5210722
74BrianJohnstonMVET60Sunderland Strollers65.1710833MV60
47Anne-MarieFisherFSENElvet Striders65.2110913
61DanielleWhitworthFSENSowerby Bridge Snails RC65.511014
70AnneMolloyFVET60Sowerby Bridge Snails RC65.51115
75Sandra PinderFVET50Sowerby Bridge Snails RC65.511223
162EllenPinderFSENSowerby Bridge Snails RC65.511315
80KathleenBellamyFVET40Elvet Striders68.311422
65CarolWhitworthFVET50Sowerby Bridge Snails RC85.4611524
121PamMcGheeFVET60Sowerby Bridge Snails RC85.461166
Photos

Bridges of The Tyne 5 mile Road Race, Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Jonathan Hamill

Photo courtesy of AJ Running Photos

Bridges of The Tyne, or BOTT as we fondly refer to it, is a go-to race for many Striders, where the standard of competition is high. Most importantly, Tyne Bridge Harriers put on a consistently excellent event, and are renowned for the enthusiastic, cheerful marshals (thanks all concerned!).

I had an extended day in the office because I thought it was easier than trekking home and back. The closure of the Scotswood Road due to a burst water main provided an additional challenge but thankfully traffic subsided to near normal levels and the drive to the Tyne Bar (Race HQ) was relatively straightforward.

In stark contrast to the perfect racing conditions of the previous year (damp and cool), the weather this time was comparatively tropical. I collected my number, and decided to rest outside the Tyne Bar, resisting the urge to have a cool beer! I’m not good in the heat, so had decided to just have a steady run out – mentioning my plan to running buddies Dave and John who had already run 5km to pick up their numbers! That plan changed a bit on the warm-up run over to the start as I realised the temperature had dropped and the river breeze was welcome!

Last year I’d had a decent run, with a gun time of 38:30 and I thought maybe chipping a few seconds off that would be ok in the heat. Then in the pen, Fiona reminded me that I’d had a decent run at the Hartlepool Marina 5 miler. The fuse was lit and all restraint and notions of a steady run went out the window.

I struck out a little too sharp but managed to settle myself. Anna was off like a rocket and Fiona and Katy were in front of me gaining ground. I saw Dave Coxon ahead of me too and decided to put all ideas of chasing him out of my head! I saw our fast lads approaching, and knew I was close to the turnaround slope. I managed to utter a few yells of support which mentally told me I wasn’t overcooking the goose at that point.

I dropped a few seconds on the slope to the turnaround, and the marshall was yelling “nil-nil” which I think referred to the progress of a soccer tournament, rather than my running progress. On the drop back down to the river, I didn’t relent, mindful that I could recover those lost seconds. On the return, the marshals continued to provide ample encouragement and it was good to see Rob calmly standing his ground hastening folk on. I remember giving Rachel Toth a big yell, and then I go to work, picking folk in front of me one-by-one and it wasn’t too long before I was on the Quayside again. My mind flashed back to the torture of last year’s finish when I got buzzed by Robin on the line and I had a sneaky look behind to check for any advancing purple vests. Then the finish straight – the best bit! I heard some of our fast lads already finished shouting and I increased my pace to cross the line.

Gun time 37:22 and a course PB – I’d indeed managed to shave a few seconds off, job done! I stayed to cheer the others in and then given my lack of interest in watching the soccer, I beat a retreat home. A great race with some gutsy Strider performances all round!

      
Pos.Bibno.Finish timeChip timeParticipantCategory
121526:33:0026:30:00Stephen Jackson(M) Senior
226529:24:0029:22:00Michael Littlewood(M) 40-44
348229:29:0029:27:00Mark Warner(M) 35-39
41131:18:0031:16:00Matthew Archer(M) 35-39
52534:49:0034:42:00Anna Basu(F) 40-44
623336:26:0036:20:00Fiona Jones(F) 40-44
717237:22:0037:16:00Jonathan Hamill(M) 40-44
847837:38:0037:32:00Katy Walton(F) 35-39
910437:54:0037:40:00Sarah Davies(F) 50-54
1039938:14:0038:05:00Chris Shearsmith(M) 40-44
1118338:49:0038:35:00Peter Hart(M) 40-44
1238439:39:0039:16:00Michael Ross(M) 45-49
135839:52:0039:34:00Karen Byng(F) 45-49
1414239:57:0039:45:00Mark Foster(M) 35-39
152340:38:0040:16:00Louise Barrow(F) 35-39
1626442:27:0042:12:00Robin Linton(M) Senior
1741943:03:0042:39:00Lee Stephenson(M) 45-49
1834643:40:0043:25:00Joanne Patterson(F) 35-39
1938943:54:0043:30:00Lisa Sample(F) 35-39
2026645:54:0045:40:00Wendy Littlewood(F) 40-44
2150147:17:0046:52:00Kimberley Wilson(F) Senior
2219552:56:0052:29:00Carol Holgate(F) 45-49
2347252:57:0052:31:00Sue Walker(F) 60-64
2445759:25:0058:50:00Rachel Toth(F) 40-44
2526301:00:4001:00:04Helen Linton(F) 55-59

Skiddaw Fell Race, Keswick, Sunday, July 1, 2018

15.4km/961.6m (9.6miles/2700ft)

Aaron Gourley

It was hot when I arrived at Keswick football club on Sunday morning – the type of heat you expect when you step off the plane upon arriving at your summer holiday destination. Stepping out of the air-conditioned car made it feel even more intense.

I’d arrived with the family in tow so they set off for a wander around Keswick while I made my way over to register for the race. The usual fell club vests were on display, hanging loosely from the skinny bodies of those whose playground the high fells of Cumbria belong.

I paid my £7 and went back to the car to get changed. I’d last run this race in 2015, in cooler conditions and had had a blast. For the unknowing, this is a fast out and back race up to the summit of Skiddaw, starting and finishing on the field between the football and cricket club of Keswick’s Fitz Park.

The race was due to start at 12:30 pm with around 100 runners gathered awaiting entry to the start pen following a very thorough kit check. It may have been hot with no chance of conditions changing but the organisers were fastidious in ensuring everyone was carrying the required kit set out in FRA rules.

Once everyone was checked in the start area and following a quick brief from the race organiser, we were off.

The pack spread quickly as the route snaked its way out of the park and up the lane towards the bridge crossing the A66. From here the gradient begins to steepen up through the woods. It was also nicely shaded here.
The path winds its way up out of the tree line to a car park at the foot of Skiddaw. From here the route hits the wide path that leads directly to the summit. A few little ups and downs the bang – straight on to the slope. The path steepens sharply as it zigzags its way up and mine, and everyone else’s pace drops dramatically.

It’s now hands on knees for the long slog to the top. There is no air; it’s hard to catch a breath. Sweat begins to pour off my head, into my eyes and off the end of my nose. I look up; I’ve not gone very far. Ahead of me, there are just headless bodies, everyone is doubled over marching their way up the hill with hands on their knees.

My breathing is swallowing, my legs are trembling and I’m having negative thoughts. I’m pretty sure I can’t make it to the top. The last time I was here was with Stuart Scott in November training for his BGR. It was cold, windy and covered in snow that time. What I’d have given for those conditions right now.

I pass two walkers (turns out it was Steph Piper) who shout encouragement and it gives me a temporary boost. Onward I march until eventually the gradient levels out enough to stand upright, catch a breath and break out into some kind of run once again.

Just as I’m approaching the gate at the foot of Skiddaw Little Man, the lead runner comes hurtling past on his way back down. He’s got a huge lead on the second place runner who also beats me to the gate.

Eventually, more runners come past on their way back down as I make my way to the final short sharp climb towards the summit plateau. It’s still hot but there’s a mild breeze blowing behind me, which helps a little as I make my way over the rocky path to the summit and turnaround point.

I’m greeted by two marshals, directed around the summit cairn and then it’s back the way I came off the mountain. The views are stunning and it’s hard not to gaze, but full concentration is needed to get back off quickly and safely – those rocks ready top trip you over at any time.

Slap, slap, slap go my feet as I try to make my way down the steep slopes quickly and efficiently. There’s a skill to downhill fell running, one that I think I’m fairly good at, but it takes a lot of concentration and nerves of steel to trust yourself and your foot placements. If only I could get up these hills quicker I’d have a fighting chance of being competitive.

The heat and my breathless assault to the top have left me exhausted so coming down is not done with my usual vigour. My thighs are burning and I’m struggling for breath. I pass some of the more cautious downhillers whilst those with more energy fly past me.

Eventually, I reach the bottom of the slope and have the run back through the car park and into the woods. This should be a relatively straightforward run back but I just haven’t got any energy left and the heat has taken its toll so my pace is slow as I make my way back to Fitz Park.

Finally, the finish field is in site and I cross the line and slump to the floor under the shade of the trees.

I check my watch for the first time during the whole race – 1hr59mins – 19 minutes slower than my previous effort. I knew this was going to be slow, given the heat, but I was disappointed at just how much slower it was. And so my struggles continue as I try and find some kind of form but I’m hoping it won’t be too long before I can take in a race with some real effort.

2018 Results

2018 Mizuno Endure 24 Leeds, Saturday, June 30, 2018

125 miles in 23 hours 21 min

Gareth Pritchard

For someone who has always trained for fast and flat, PB times and the love of tarmac, this report is truly something I never thought I’d write. The blame/credit for this lies squarely at the feet of my amazing other half, Catherine Smith, and 2 super tough female Striders, Kerry and Anna.

I had heard about crazy ultra running and been totally amazed for years about what people achieved, but none of it ever really seemed real or understandable. When someone said they just ran a 40, 60; 100-mile ultra it just did not compute to a roadrunner. I had no comparators. I know what 5k hard felt like and I had experienced the massive wall at 20 miles on a marathon. I had no idea what ultras would involve.

What’s a good time for 50 miles? 100 miles? Everyone always told me you can’t do both. You run long, your speed will suffer. Say goodbye to racing the distances I love. Those were the thoughts running through my head when someone mentioned ultrarunning. My perspective now has certainly changed.

In June 2017 Leeds held their first Endure24 race and our very own Anna Seeley and Kerry Barnett both took part. Catherine and I decided to help them set up, giving us our first glimpse of the ultra world. Soon after we both signed up for the 2018 Endure24 Leeds event.

So what is Endure24?
You have 24 hours to cover the greatest distance you can, run, walk, crawl or just endure till you can’t give any more. The race starts at midday Saturday and ends 24 hours later. It’s a tough mixed terrain 5 Mile lap, chip timed and supported. You can stop/start whenever you like until the cut-off and eat, sleep, change clothes, and shower. Your battle is against yourself, the ticking clock and your desire to achieve the impossible.

My build-up to this was unconventional, to say the least; I am not an experienced distance runner in any way shape or form. My main goals were London marathon and Windermere marathon, so it was well into May until I even seriously considered Endure24 a goal/target to train for.

I’d run two 50k events as a test, earlier in the year, to see how I’d react. The first, 50k was way too fast and I’d suffered. The second was just over 4 hours and I absolutely loved it. I even managed a cool down 5k lap with Catherine after. Those 34 miles remained my distance PB right up to the day of Endure24.

I’d always wondered if I could run 100 miles in a week; my normal weekly distance is about 30. This is very low for a marathon runner. I have always focused on quality rather than pure miles in my training. This works well with my lifestyle commitments and I strongly believe it’s why I’ve been injury free for a couple of years now, But Endure24 required more.

To up my mileage, I decided to run to Blaydon start line, and finish the race with Catherine for my first ever 100 Mile week. It worked out perfectly. 20-miles from my doorstep to Newcastle, then a fun Blaydon race experience. 100 Mile week done and followed up with a 90+ week. I felt good. 2 weeks to go and time to relax, race hard and of course taper.

In the weeks before Endure24, I ran a low 17 min 5k at the first Cotsford fields parkrun and set the course record, placed 2nd at a very hilly Gibside marathon in 3:25 and I also placed 2nd at Keswick half marathon, a tough race on a boiling hot day, but what I was most pleased about was 3rd place at Lambton 10k with a 2 min course PB of 35:48. I’d proved to myself I could still run fast while training for an ultra, but the ultimate test was about to come, Endure24 was now one week away.

I’d picked up some tips and advice by accident and chance. Chris Callan gave me a Torq apple crumble running gel as payment for a post-Blaydon drink. Catherine decided to order a box of them after I raved so highly about it after a training run. This turned into a total godsend.

Another happy accident was winning New Balance vouchers at Keswick half marathon; I bought their 1080 shoes with them. These proved to be perfect for Endure24, with wide toes, comfortable, light and lots of padding. Perfect for churning out the miles and protecting my feet. The 3rd important part was discovering Mountain Fuel, energy system. This was after talking to an impressive collection of ultra runners at the Northeast Marathon Club’s Gibside marathon and 24-hour event.

So my training started late, a distance PB of 55k, one 100 Mile week and, surprisingly, I felt extremely confident. I felt in great shape. Maybe not sub-16 for 5k, but definitely in good form. I could train long and still felt fresh, fuelling was good and I knew I had an amazing support team around me for the event.

The Friday came, car loaded and off we set for Leeds with camping gear, all our food and most of our running gear.

The camping area is the same place as Leeds festival; Endure24 is described as the Glastonbury of running for a good reason. We pitched our 3 tents together near the start area and settled in. The race HQ is something special, a massive catering area, beer tents, pizza cooking, ice cream van, mobile coffee van, music DJ, massive banners, and flags flying. A total festival feeling and everyone in such high spirits. I must admit I felt a bit out of my depth, with semi-professional ultra runners strutting about, all the gear, total pros but everyone was great and we soon saw people we knew. It’s a small world the running one, and I love that fact when the nerves kick in.

Our goals? Catherine 50, Kerry and Anna to beat last years distance, and for me 50+ with a perfect day achievement of 100 miles. We also wanted to fundraise for Great North Air Ambulance, a great charity, close to our hearts. Anyone who has seen me race will know I’m a competitive sod, I love to race hard and a target or goal really does motivate me. Everyone who achieves 100 miles gets a special t-shirt, so that was my goal. Me being me, I also looked up the course record, 120 miles… just ridiculous.

It was forecast to be hot, and it was when we started on Saturday but we were prepared. Factor 50, hat on and all our kit ready. The solo runners have an area to store our food/gear just after the start/finish line. We had packed iceboxes, change of clothes and what we thought we needed. The midday start was great. You had a good sleep and breakfast and some runners even arrived in the morning, choosing not to camp. Pairs and teams of up to 8 were also running as well as us solo runners. This confused and annoyed me in equal measures but again turned out fine.

We decided not to walk the route on the Friday. The first lap was supposed to be run/walk easy and learn the route. So, of course, I decided to run the whole thing and stupidly quick. Well into my 3rd lap I remembered it was a 24-hour race and I really needed to slow down.

So what does the 5 Mile lap look like?

You start on a long grassy straight, not flat. Short gravel downhill, twist sections on gravel, uneven woody climb, and awesome dance party station with energy drink. Hula dance cheer station, more up and downs, uneven ground. Long sweeping covered wood section, amazing checkpoint just before 5K with singing support team and the best-behaved children and best marshals ever. The important toilet and gels were in supply at this station too. Then it opens out to more climbs and grass fields, before a long climb at 7k. At the top, you’re welcomed with the sight of the start/finish area in the distance and a cheeky climb to the end. May not sound it, but it’s absolutely perfect for clocking the miles, I ran the good bits and walked the hills. Every section I soon had my markers as to when I’d start running or walking, and it just made it so much easier.

The dreaded relay teams also helped. They whizzed past constantly, so you always had people around you. I was very rarely on my own through the whole event. I had my music and phone all ready to go but never used them once. Another big bonus was catching up with people on the laps; I would stop and take a break with Catherine, Anna and Kerry on the way. This helped to keep me sensible and a check on my mental well-being.

After a few laps, I started to realise I was in the lead. The DJ would shout my name out as I crossed the line and I’d try not to look too embarrassed. People must have been thinking who is this idiot going around so fast, just a matter of time before he blows up, clearly has no idea what he’s doing. This was my thinking at the time, but I kept to the run/walk and concentrated on the 50 Mile, 10 lap goal; soon that was ticked off, then 75!

With night drawing in, the head torches came out. I loved this change; the pure focus on the path ahead, the sheer beauty of the sunset and the night sky with a giant moon, a total privilege to see. During the night temperatures dropped significantly and I went through some seriously rough times for sure. As Catherine achieved her 50 miles target around 3 am, I caught them up. My memory is hazy but I definitely must have looked in a bad way. I hadn’t eaten anything solid for hours and couldn’t keep solid food down. Mountain fuel and apple crumble gels were all that was keeping me going. A few angry eyes from Catherine & instructions from Nurse Barnett and I stormed off to the catering area for some chips and a hot chocolate, a total lifesaver.

I went back out refreshed and still unbeaten, somehow I kept going and the 100 miles neared at 5 am with the sun on the way. A very special feeling crossing the line knowing I’d just run 100 miles, the DJ was still tucked up asleep and it passed in silence but inside I was dancing. Catherine was there to capture the moment, I was fully winter running clothed and looked beat up, it had been a hard night but I’d done it! I’d hit the target, scored the sought after tee shirt and could tell everyone who had sponsored us I’d achieved my ultimate goal!

As the sun came up I changed into shorts and t-shirt, put sun cream on and started to feel human again, I wanted to keep going. Catherine was awesome, supplier of hot food and various treats she pulled from the cool boxes. Rob, Kerry’s partner also helped with a surprise chocolate ice cream and the coldest best cola drink ever when I really needed it.

On my 110 Mile lap, I started to realise I could really win this thing and go for the course record of 125 miles. I was still running ok, everything hurt but I was getting used to that. I worked out that if I ran a decent 115 and 120 lap I would still have 1h30 easy for a victory lap with Catherine. So that was it, head down and ticked off 2 sub hour laps with 120 miles done. Refreshed and ready with Catherine, we started – lap 25 for me and lap 11 for her.

It’s hard to put into words just how special a moment this was. The pain of every hill. The stopping and starting. Everything hurting, but never once did I think of giving up. We thanked everyone on that last lap and the cheers at the end were amazing. Kerry captured the moment perfectly. 125 miles in 23 hours 21 mins, course record and I was not quite broken, even though it was a distance PB of 90 miles!

Catherine achieved a distance PB of 55 miles with more in the bank for sure, Kerry achieved a fabulous 60 miles, distance PB and Anna achieved an amazing 90 miles, distance PB.

A truly special event, exceeding all expectations. Will we all return? Some of us definitely will, it’s back to the short and fast for me, but you never know. I’m happy to report Ultra and speed can survive together.

Club Handicap, Wednesday, June 27, 2018

results
PosNameGroupFinish TimeActual Time
1Karen ByngG53.1140.41
2David OxladeH53.4638.46
3Mike BennettH53.5538.55
4Jon TurnerH54.0239.02
5Wendy LittlewoodE54.0646.36
6Lesley HamillG54.1941.49
7Jonathan HamillH54.3239.32
8Stephen JacksonM55.0327.33
9Heather RaistrickE55.0747.37
10Debra ThompsonE55.2747.57
11Kirsty NelsonE55.3048.00
12Nelli BalaG55.3943.09
13Letitia Chapman-WardD55.3950.39
14Sue WalkerD55.4050.40
15Natalie BellI55.4338.13
16Carolyn GalulaF56.0846.08
17Terry RoberstonJ56.2736.27
18Peter HartI56.3739.07
19Craig ThorntonJ56.4436.44
20Conrad WhiteJ56.5436.54
21Becks LippeI56.5439.24
22Lisa SampleG57.0344.33
23Lee StephensonH57.0542.05
24Steve EllisH57.1642.16
25Chris ShearsmithI57.2439.54
26Matt DavidH57.2442.24
27Michael LittlewoodM57.2529.55
28Mark WarnerM57.2729.27
29Alison SmithE57.2949.59
30Sharon PattisonC57.3755.07
31Carol HolgateC57.3755.07
32Steph GreenwellC57.3755.07
33Stephen LumsdonG57.4345.13
34Lizzie WallaceI58.0240.32
35John ThompsonH58.1143.11
36Neil GarthwaiteI58.1240.42
37Georgie HebdonM58.1630.46
38Corrine WhalingI58.3041.00
39Karen ChalkleyD58.3253.32
40Alex BrownI58.3541.05
41Matthew CarrI58.4741.17
42Danielle GlasseyG58.5846.28
43Fiona JonesG58.5846.28
44Barrie KirtleyM59.0631.36
45Dan MitchellK59.0836.38
46Mick DavisK59.1436.44
47Lynne WaughF59.1748.17
48Juan C. AntonL59.4034.40
49David HolcroftL59.4034.40
50Gareth PritchardL59.4134.41
51Andrew ThurstonF60.0450.04
52Peter BellJ60.5740.57
53Andrew DaviesK61.3239.02
54Sophie DennisE61.5954.29
55James LeeM62.2134.51
56Rachel ToppingB63.2363.23
57Angela CowellB63.2463.24
58Bob GrattonK63.3941.09
59Jan YoungB64.0664.06
60Angela GreatheadD1 lap – 31.0026.00
61Emma CumpsonF1 lap – 35.0725.07
62John GreatheadH1 lap – 36.4821.48

DKMS Charity Relays, Aykley Heads, Durham, Saturday, June 23, 2018

24 hours

Clear skies and fine weather made for a great weekend of running round Aykley Heads. Unsung heroes saw the sun set and sun rise over Durham as they saw the event through from set up to strike down. 24 hours, and then some.

Shaun and Ros were there to open and close the event. I missed the start (I’d forgotten how steep that hill is up from Durham on a bike) so don’t have any photos of the beginning of the event. If you have any photos you’d like to add to the gallery below please get in touch.

Jonathan writes:

“We had everything in place and were primed for the start.  I was going to lead the first lap in my DKMS shirt and we realised we needed a baton.  Thanks to the quick thinking of our President, David Shipman, a frog (fly-swatter) was produced from his camper van which we kept going every minute of the 24-hour period.  We tweeted updates every 250km run and we hoped to exceed 1500km and were delighted to hit 1725km but more importantly, to finish with Shaun leading the charge on the final lap – with an impressive sprint finish. We often say we are proud to be purple (our club colours) and this weekend was no exception.

We took a total of £1110 in cash donations. In addition Abbey’s Angels have paid £95 direct to DKMS.  Jan and Tony Young who provided endless cups of tea and coffee (and cake!) over the 24-hour period also raised £86 in sponsorship (plus Gift Aid).  The Just Giving campaign page is heading nicely towards £500 plus Gift Aid, so we should raise at least £1 for every km run! “

Some statistics (H/T Angela):

112 people ran
Total of 345 laps run (1,725 km)

Teams with most laps
1) Waldridge Warriers completed 67 laps
2) Long Slow Run Sunday completed 36 laps
3) Sisters with Blisters completed 31 laps
4) Abbey Angels completed 15 laps
5) Durham City Harriers completed 9 laps
6) Farmer Maggot and his/her Turnip completed 2 laps.

Stamfordham 10K, Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Andrew Davies

I’ve been keeping my eye out for mid-week 10ks as an alternative to the normal Sunday morning ones. Having said that, I’ve entered a lot of Sunday morning 10ks!

Stamfordham 10k is a Run Nation race and is expensive, as a consequence (£16.50). It’s chip timed, with a nice medal but no t-shirt. I’m not sure where the money goes. They’re always well organised and friendly though.

Stamfordham is a small Northumberland village off the A69 on the way to Hexham. Very convenient for me. I had plenty of time to get there from Gosforth for the civilised 7:30 pm start.

The postcode took me to the middle of nowhere before I’d realise I’d entered the road name ‘B6309’, not a postcode. Anyway, a quick Google of Stamfordham Village Hall showed I was 4 miles away with plenty of time.

The weather was perfect. It’d been warm recently but tonight there was just enough cloud cover to keep the heat away. This was lucky, I was wearing my long sleeve Striders top, with the sleeves rolled up. This was my fourth race in ten days and the vest hadn’t made it through the washing cycle this time. Bit of a blessing as I think it’s shrinking and looks more like a training bra.

The roads weren’t closed for the race but I saw a max of five cars out there. Two of them were the organiser and photographer. There was loads of space to park in the village. Just over 100 runners gathered around the village hall, picking up their numbers and chatting. Nice building with loads of toilets. This is when I heard about the last kilometre. Apparently, it was quite a drop; a really speedy way to finish. And I could believe it because I could see the slope coming into the village to the finish outside the hall. I was then concerned about the climb we’d need to do. But I shouldn’t have worried too much.

At 7:20 pm, after a good warm-up, we all headed to the start, about 500 yards towards the other side of the village. There was a quick briefing from Angelos Epithemiou from Shooting Stars. Then we were off.

We headed out of the village on the country road and turned left. The course is one large rectangle of country roads. It’s a beautiful part of the world but you don’t get to see too much of it. The roads are long, straight and lined with large hedges and trees.

It’s officially undulating but none of the individual rises are anything to worry about. However, it does slowly rise on average all the way from the start to beyond 9k. Getting steadily worse after 6k. So my strategy was to make the most of the downs by picking up speed and carry it through the ups and generally dig in. I heard someone say they hadn’t run for a while and were taking it easy and aiming for 45 minutes. I’ve been running loads recently, was going eyeballs out and aiming for 45 minutes so I thought I’d keep her in sight.

I had a good first half and left her and her friend behind. In fact, behind them, there was a big gap opening up to the rest. I think we were a lead group of about thirty. 5k time was good but it was net downhill. I dug in and tried to keep as much speed as possible before the harder rises later. The girl and bloke went past me but I left him well behind over the last few kilometres. The field had spread out and it was getting difficult to reel anyone in. However, I passed a couple of guys I had in my sights while one or two were too fast and I think someone powered past me.

But where was this famous drop to the finish? Some say it’s a mile long, others a kilometre. Pffft my watch said 9.4k before the gradient changed. But it changed a lot. Not the steepest hill I’d ever run down but not far off. Had to hold back. Didn’t want to face plant on tarmac. But it was an exciting, high-speed finish. First and last Strider home.

I finished 28th. Happy with 45:41. Not a PB but this isn’t a PB course. I’d had a small ‘mare on Sunday at Newton Aycliffe, 47:00, which has worse rises. But was happy with 44:00 the previous Wednesday at Newburn River run which is 9.7k, exactly 6 miles.

I might be doing too many races too close together to get a PB but that won’t stop me trying at Kirkley 10k next Wednesday.

Stamfordham is a good 10k if you can afford it and can get there.

Alwinton Three Tops Fell Race, Saturday, June 16, 2018

15 miles, 2400ft

Aaron Gourley

“You know the bag with your running shoes it,” asked my wife over the phone as I pulled up at the lights near the Duke of Wellington on my way to pick up Paul Evans.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Are they supposed to be outside the front door?” she said knowing all too well what the answer was going to be!

I’d forgotten to pick up my shoes so I had to make a decision on whether I had enough time to drive back and get them? I was already running late but thought I’d better go back. I picked up Paul and off we sped back to Wingate to get the shoes before hurtling up the A19 and onto the A1 hoping we’d make it to Alwinton, just north of Rothbury, in time to change and register for the race.

It was cut fine but we made it with at least 14 minutes to spare, a quick change and dash to the pub to register and we were ready.

Geoff and Jack were already there looking relaxed having had a more sedate journey north.

The conditions were about perfect for running a fell race with good visibility and a light wind to keep the temperature down as around 51 runners gathered for this annual fundraiser for the North of Tyne Mountain Rescue Team.

After a short brief and a “3,2,1 – off you go”, from the race director and race was on. I was feeling a little leggy still from my Hardmoors 110 exploits and still suffering from tight muscles around my left knee so the plan was to just take it easy and enjoy the route.

The first mile or so is a steady climb but I immediately fell behind most of the pack as I watched Paul, Jack and Geoff shoot off into the distance.
The trail, whilst not particularly steep, was a drag and I found myself really struggling before it eventually levelled off ahead of a long descent and double back on the roadside ready the first really significant climb of the day.

As I approached I looked up and knew this is going to be a tough day. And so it proved, my knee hurt but even worse, I just didn’t seem to have any energy at all. The next few miles were torturous as the hills rolled up and down.

The tussocks made for uneven running and with my knee hurting, I found that I was struggling on the downhill where I would normally have had fun and been able to claw back some of my lost time. It was fair to say I wasn’t really enjoying this race for the majority of it. But I stuck in; I knew this was my first real race of this type for a long time so it was a case of sucking it up and getting on with it.

The checkpoints along the way were marshalled by Mountain Rescue staff who were very cheery, which made for light relief and before long, the route dropped onto the forest track where the gradient shallowed and the path levelled enough to actually find some sort of rhythm when running. I was starting to feel much better now, as I was able to maintain a relatively even pace.

Up ahead I could see a few runners that had gone past me as I struggled on the hills, and as the trail continued I began to slowly draw them in. One by one I began to make a bit of progress, and eventually, I’d clawed back at least four lost places as we hit the final checkpoint before the long descent back to the finish.

After what seemed an eternity, I finally dropped back onto the road we’d run up at the start of the race, before turning the corner to see the finish up ahead.

Paul was stood waiting at the finish, having had a blistering run coming in first Strider and 8th overall and Geoff had a beaten Jack who’d admitted to having had a pretty miserable time out on the course himself.

Comrades Marathon, Pietermaritzburg to Durban, South Africa, Sunday, June 10, 2018

90 kms [DOWN run]

Dougie Nisbet

Three days before Comrades I nipped into the Expo to collect my number. They make you feel special as an international runner with a special fasttrack queue that takes out much of the stress, and quite possibly, some of the fun. This left me plenty time to search for the Ethembeni School amongst the maze of stalls sprawling through the exhibition centre. I approached hesitantly, with my 4 carrier bags stuffed with pre-loved, hated-at-first-sight, and oh-not-another-tech-tee from years of racing around Durham and beyond. I’d been putting them to one side for a long time now, not really thinking through how I’d squash them into my luggage for the long trip to Durban. But squashed in they had been, and now I was a bit nervous. Perhaps the school didn’t have any crushing desire for a Durham City 10K t-shirt, or a Mad Dog 10K, or Blackpool Marathon, and would be shortly making that clear to me. But no. Apparently according to the nice lady I spoke to, they were all ‘awesome’. I was relieved as I had no plan ‘B’ if they were not wanted. After Comrades we were going onto Botswana where we had a strict luggage limit and I had visions of having to furtively find a place to lose several years of surplus running vests.

Two days before Comrades found us on the bus tour again. The Down Run this year. On a hot bus with a broken PA but this didn’t dampen the spirits of our hosts. Both Comrades runners, full of experience and enthusiasm. Once again we stopped at Ethembeni School for an impromptu concert.

Concert at the Ethembeni School

The school is a wonderful place. A facility for kids with disabilities, including albinism, which can still result in them being stigmatised. The school has built up a rapport with Comrades over the years and particularly international runners. As the school principal candidly pointed out, the school enjoys donations and publicity the envy of its neighbours, simply because it’s on the Comrades race route.

Stopping for a photo breather during the Durban parkrunThe day before Comrades and it had to be the Durban parkrun. A carnival of controlled chaos with the bus drivers rehearsing their moves and runners doing their final kit checks. Despite having 2273 runners the organisers do an amazing job of running a tight ship. Should you wish to run it hard, the opportunity was there to do so. But for most people it was a jog along the seafront enjoying the spectacle and singing of the following day’s buses.

The night before Comrades we stayed at the Golden Horse casino in Pietermaritzbug. Last year it had been at the end of the race and had been surprisingly peaceful. This year, it was a much busier affair and not a lot of fun. A packed and cramped coach took us from Durban to the hotel where eventually we got checked in, were handed a free bottle of Energade, then queued in the restaurant for dinner. Our booking hadn’t been cheap and we were not too impressed with things so far. The night was short, and noisy. They seemed to be re-living the car-chase scenes from Grease in the carpark outside our room. Still, as we were up at 2AM there were not too many hours in which to be kept awake.

After breakfast I sat on the coach waiting for the avoidably late departure of the coach to the start. I’d have been better walking, and sat looking out of the coach window watching many people easily overtake the coach as they strolled to the Start. Eventually we were tufted out with not as much time to spare as I would have liked, and I went looking for the baggage bus. That was pretty amazing. I managed to extract myself from the crush without breaking anything, had a brief and hopefully forgettable detour via a portable toilet, then tried to find my starting pen. Time was counting down and there was a hellish crush at the entrance. The poor marshall tasked with policing the gate suddenly found herself forced back as the force of runners made a final push into the pen. It was pretty nasty. For many seconds I had no control over my movements; the marshall retreated to the side for her own safety and I was propelled forward into the pen by the mass of people behind me. I staggered into the pen, ducked to the side and got myself somewhere safe-ish. This was unpleasant stuff. My sunglasses had been smashed in the crush which had a surprisingly bad psychological effect on me. I’d had a bad night, and with just half an hour to the beginning of this iconic race I stood crushed in abject misery and grumpiness. All in all, I thought, this is a bit shit.

The ropes between the pens were dropped, and there was a lurch as the pens began to merge. Then there were a few moments of calm. Then over the PA it was announced that the national anthem would be played. I think they do actually play it over the PA – not that it matters. This was one of the many stranger-in-a-strange-land goose-bump moments that you experience in Comrades as an international runner. Proper singing. None of your Oggy Oggy Oggy crap here.

After the power of the national anthem came the mellowness of the Shosholoza, then a palpable expectant pause before the first notes of Chariots of Fire blasted out over the PA. I’m not a huge fan of this song, preferring Mr Bean’s 2012 Olympic variations over the cheesy original, but hey, when it’s 0530AM and dark and cold in Pietermaritzburg and you’re surrounded by thousands of fellow Comrades runners, suddenly it doesn’t seem cheesy at all. In a space of a few minutes my mood had changed. My tetchiness had been replaced by mellowness, and I wondered with interest how the long day ahead would play out. The cock crowed but I noticed some of the old-hands didn’t start their watches until the starting gun sounded a few seconds later.

Nothing much happened for a bit (although with the race being gun-to-mat – the clock had started ticking) but before long we all started shuffling forward. After the chaotic crush of getting into the pen, things were now quite calm and civilised. Perhaps it was all that singing. It was still dark and cold and I was wearing my long-sleeved Striders top. The one I’d never liked that flared out like a maternity dress but at my waist. After a few miles when things were feeling a bit warmer but still dark I lobbed it at one of the collection points at the roadside only for it to whack into the face of a volunteer who’d turned in response to my shout. I’m never going to stop feeling bad about that and it’s probably best not to think about where my old Strider top is now …

Slowly the light came up, and the sun rose over KwaZulu-Natal. It wasn’t forecast to be a hot day and running conditions were pretty nice. I wasn’t sure how race-day would play out but for the moment I was on my race plan and feeling fine.

Sunrise over KwaZulu-Natal

This year my main objective was to get the back-to-back medal, a medal only available to novices who successfully complete their first two Comrades in successive years. An up run followed by a down run, or vice versa.  I was pretty confident of achieving this goal, but my secondary goal was to get a sub-11 hour Comrades. I thought it was do-able. I’d done a lot of core Strength-and-Conditioning training and was generally fitter and lighter than 2017. I wasn’t complacent though. I knew it’d still be hard. I’d been reading Matt Fitzgerald’s “How bad do you want it” (worth getting for his account of the 1989 Fignon/LeMond Tour de France finale alone) and he warns that one of the main mistakes athletes make as their form improves is to assume that a race will be less tough. So I was ready for that one. As the day wound on I kept clear of the buses as their pacing seemed bonkers. I’d already passed, and been passed by, two different 12 hour buses and didn’t care for their pacing strategy. Too fast, too early.

Your number says a lot about you in Comrades and mine had two red vertical bands indicating that I was going for the back-to-back. It was a strange club and occasionally I’d make eye-contact with other back-to-back runners and exchange a brief acknowledgement. An unspoken communication that we were all there for the same reason.

The sun crossed the sky and on the long steep descents I was grateful for my S&C training as it allowed me to continue running with form where many others were now walking. On the long descent of Fields Hill within the last 30 km I edged past an 11:30 bus that was going for a walk-jog strategy, and kept my rhythm going. I knew things weren’t right though. I was feeling too fatigued too early. I knew that Comrades comprises a long, tough, steady end-game where your muscles are fatigued, but if all is well, your form, rhythm and breathing is retained. And I could sense that I was on the wrong side of the envelope.

An 11 hour Comrades is an average pace of 7:19 a km. As much as an average means anything in this race. You’re lucky if more than a few kilometres of the race are level, which is one of the things that makes it such a hard event. I tried to run as steadily and cautiously as possible but I could sense that I didn’t have the stamina I expected and that it was going to be a pretty rough old day.  With 8km to go my Garmin showed that I was edging tantalisingly close to the psychologically magic pace of 7:19 and I tried to lift the pace a fraction. But just as it was looking like it was going to happen, we hit a long, draining climb into the suburbs of Durban, and it was game over.

I crashed and burned on this hill and at the drinks table at the top I knew the Bronze was not going to happen. This wasn’t a minor setback that I could recover from. My form had gone. My breathing was ragged. My rhythm was terrible. I wasn’t going to come back from this. The remainder of the race was simple damage limitation. Walking and jogging inelegantly into the Moses Mabhida Stadium and looking for the finish. With just 8km to go of this 90km race I could almost touch my target pace but by the final reckoning I wasn’t even close. The gantry clock showed 11:15 and a few seconds.

I crossed the line with mixed emotions. Part elation, part disappointment. Medals appeared and it felt good to be wearing two medals, the Finisher and the Back-To-Back. It’d have felt even better if one of these had been the bronze but that’s something I’ll have to get used to.

Sitting in the international section of the stand I peered over to the finish line as the 12 hour countdown grew near. I was struggling with two intense emotional reactions, one of which was completely unexpected. I hadn’t got the bronze, and I thought I’d been capable of it. I clearly wanted it more badly than I realised.

The Back-to-Back medalI puzzled over this. Perhaps it was because this is my first race for a very long time that hasn’t gone to plan. I’m much better at running even or negative splits, very disciplined, and it’s been a long time since I’ve ran a bad race. And this had been a bad race.

Suddenly a commotion from the crowd snapped me out of my despondency and with the seconds counting down  a runner appeared on the finish straight being physically supported by two other runners. The crowd were on their feet and cheering them on, but there’s always one grumpy pedant who doesn’t join in and share the spirit of the moment. I leaned towards Roberta and whispered, “That’s against the rules you know. You must be unsupported”. Perhaps they heard, as I saw an official approach the runner, who dropped to his knees and crawled the last few metres, unsupported, over the line.

I settled back into my despondency and tried to unpick my race. What had gone wrong? Too much training? Too little? Too much beer? Too little? Taper too long? Short? It was difficult to shake of the feeling of unfairness and injustice. But it wouldn’t be racing if there was no risk, if everything was predictable. It would be pointless. And there’s a certain morbid fascination of going over a big race that has gone unexpectedly wrong and mulling over the possible reasons.

I thought of those few seconds that had taken me over 11:15 and could see they would have easily been eaten up by all that high-fiving of the kids as I weaved by the Ethembeni School. But I can live with that. I told myself to stop being an arse. The name Ethembeni means “Place of Hope” and their school motto Phila Ufunde means “Live and Learn”. Wise words. They’ll do for me.

Swaledale Marathon, Saturday, June 9, 2018

Nina Mason

How it all started: flashback to 1995 – me and Mum coming into Reeth

17 and counting…

I ran (and walked) my first Swaledale in 1995. I was new to running and Mum (Jan) suggested we give it a go. It was hell. We did it together, and all I remember was her going on about the beautiful views, and me swearing at her a lot. A year later I was back – fitter, 3 months pregnant with Leigh, and up for it. I was hooked.

There are many great races/runs out there, and many reasons why we each have a preference. Swaledale is my firm favourite. I’ve been back most years (though a long break between 2011 and 2017) and completed it in a range of times. With a decent pottery collection now in use around the house, this year was number 17.

For anyone thinking about doing this, I would recommend it (though you may have realised by now that I am somewhat biased!) You need to be quick getting a number (they sell out fast in January), but for £21 you get a well-organised run/walk, water at all the manned checkpoints and cake and sandwiches at a couple, a hot meal at the end, a badge and pottery souvenir, lots of great views, and the chance to share the experience with other like-minded runners and walkers. You don’t usually need to use your map if the weather is good and you’ve recced the route (though be prepared to do so if needed).

This year – I wished Mum and a few other Striders luck at the start then didn’t see her again after the initial climb up to Fremington Edge. The weather was great – not too much sun, a bit of a breeze, and fairly dry underfoot. I was aiming for under 5 hours but a little worried about post-Yomp legs (only 6 days before).

One of the Swaledale ‘greats’ (Strider RotY in ‘93 and ‘99 – and stepdad – Tony Young) once wisely said ‘the race starts at Gunnerside’. It’s true. I often fade here – that climb out is tough with 16 or so miles in your legs – but when I got there, well within the planned time, I focussed on forcing myself to run at least the flats and downs (ok, jog). This year I managed to keep my pace going and passed quite a few people between there and the end. Pushing hard down the stony track into Reeth (my favourite bit of my favourite race) I finished well under target time.

Really hard work but thoroughly enjoyed the day. Good performances from the other Striders that turned out too.

The best bit for me, 22 years after her first ‘visit’, was seeing Leigh at the end and a big hug; and then (with Tony) cheering Nanny/Mum/Jan in.

I jokingly challenged Leigh to do this next year, but I think she declined. I’d be very happy to walk/jog at her pace, perhaps waxing lyrical about the glorious views…. after all, it never did me any harm.

PosTime NameClass
103.15.00Julian Simpson
R'mond & Ze
M
1003.28.00Amy Sarkies
Rugby/N'hampt
F40
803.27.00Michael MasonM
7604.24.00Matthew ArcherM
10304.37.00Nina MasonF40
21205.46.00Andrew ThompsonM
21305.46.00Jan YoungF60
42008.22.00Margaret ThompsonF60
42108.22.00Anita ClementsonF40