Category Archives: 5km

Windy Nook Inaugural parkrun, Saturday, December 2, 2017


Andrew Davies

First Striders at Windy NookI’ve been trying to be ‘Great North Done’. That’s what everyone calls it when you’ve run all the parkruns in the North East. What do you mean you’ve never heard of it? It’s not like I’ve just made it up!

It’s all the parkruns from Druridge Bay down to Darlington. There are 23 now, I think. I might count Catterick and Northallerton as bonuses.

After finally getting to Gibside last week (which is great by the way), I only had Druridge Bay for the set. I’d even got to the sneaky new one at Newbiggin not long after it started. That’s another good one, as our captains will testify to after today, I’m sure. Coincidently I bumped into Paul and Dylan Swinburne there, as I did today at Windy Nook. Yep, another new North East parkrun. We’re spoiled for them up here.

I rolled over in bed to see how many more hours I had to luxuriate when I noticed it was 07:58 and my 07:30 alarm had failed! Luckily I’d got my uniform ready the night before, as if I was a school kid, and was dressed in minutes and out the door before 08:20. This gave me plenty of time to do the 25-minute trip to Gateshead.

The postcode (NE108XU) sends you to Whitehills Community Centre where’s there’s space to park. From there you need to walk 500 yards through a housing estate to Windy Nook Nature Park. The organisers emphasised how we shouldn’t park in the housing estate to avoid annoying the residents. There was free tea and coffee in the Centre after. I expect it won’t always be free.

There was a lot of snow and ice left around the North East and Facebook was peppered with parkruns being cancelled. Luckily not Windy Nook. Coincidentally, my Daughter was supposed to be playing footy at Hill Top School half a mile away but that was cancelled too. The course is not far from Wrekenton XC so that should tell you what to expect. The snow had turned to slush which flowed down the paths and turned the off-road bits into slippy bogs. I’d packed my fell shoes but made the mistake of wearing my brand new Brooks instead. They’d be fine for this course normally but not today.

I was expecting lots of tourists from the cancelled runs. There were 215 runners, in the end. I suspect this parkrun will attract around 150-200 most weeks, but what do I know?
The organisers did a great job welcoming everyone, explaining the route and bad conditions and to expect some hiccups.

The course is complicated. At least it was today. There was a hiccup and we went the wrong way on the first lap (I’ll have to go again to be sure). It’s a three-lap course; you start and finish at the same point. Before the first lap, you set off around a small path loop in the wrong direction then you start the laps. Halfway around, there are 14 steps. But there are two sets of steps in the park and we went up the wrong ones first-time, I’m sure. The real lap has a long wood chip incline with the real steps and a muddy bank. It’s great to do it three times. It’s not as bad as the inclines and hill at Flatts Lane but the mud made it almost impossible to run up today (in Brooks).

Windy Nook is not a PB course. I was saving myself for Sunderland Strollers Half on Sunday and I took nearly 28-mins. I’ll be going back to get under 25 minutes soon. But I don’t think I’ll get very far under.

It’s a fine addition to the ‘Great North Done’ set and all the Striders should get there soon before any more parkruns appear (I’m looking at you Kerry in a Peterlee type direction).

Newbiggin-by-the-Sea Park Run, Saturday, October 21, 2017


Sarah Davies

As a parkrun fanatic, I am always delighted when a new Parkrun starts up in the North East. Not only is it great to see the movement growing, but it also creates exciting new possibilities for Parkrun tourism. However, although I like to imagine myself heading off into the wilds of Northumberland or North Yorkshire to tackle a new course, rarely does this actually happen: it’s enough of a challenge to get our family to Maiden Castle by 9, let alone anywhere further afield. But this Saturday was different. Knowing that I had to drop my daughter off for a rowing race in Ashington at the unearthly hour of 7.45 am, I immediately checked the parkrun website and was happy to discover that a new run had started in nearby Newbiggin-by-the-Sea just a week before!
Daughter and her friends dropped off, I headed straight there. The course is, appropriately, by-the-sea. The start is on the beach, but almost immediately you join the long promenade which curves around the attractive Newbiggin bay. There are some interesting sculptures and stunning sea views along the way. At the end of the promenade, you climb a steep grassy hill (I had a flashback to cross-country!), run around a small park, then descend and return along the promenade. The second lap follows roughly the same route. The finish is at the historic Café Bertorelli, famous for its ice cream. Sadly, I didn’t have time to stop and sample it!
This is a scenic, varied, and reasonably challenging parkrun, especially if you happen to be running into the wind (I was surprised to be first female finisher – admittedly, the field was not huge!) I would highly recommend it to all Striders and their families. I’ll be back, and not only so I can try the ice-cream!


Hexham 5k Fun Run, Hexham, Northumberland, Sunday, July 16, 2017

Celeste Veitch


I’d enjoyed last year’s Hexham 5k fun run so I felt compelled to support the organisers in their quest to secure enough attendance to route the run through Hexham’s town centre. The council agreed the request and with full road closures for the run, the 5k started 5 minutes before the half marathon from in front of the Queen’s Hall Art Centre. With pleasant weather and a fine view of the Abbey we set off, the HM runners and spectators cheered us from the start line.

Fifty runners followed the path down Hallgate bank and onto Wentworth Place, past the visitor and leisure centres onto the main road to the A69. If you don’t know Hexham this start was entirely downhill and the momentum along with the supporters propelled us along nicely. At this point the course goes over the bridge and drops down along Ferry Road. The course continues along the road where it crosses over the A69 and turns around just before Corchester Lane returning on the same route until a left turn onto Sandhoe takes you to the finish line and a handsome medal of the Abbey.

Anyone who knows me is aware that I’m not the Strider’s fastest runner but with the support, the downhill momentum and aid of Anna Seeley’s HM training sessions I’d managed to knock 3.05 minutes off my PB. The first place 5k runner came in at 20.42. I’m looking forward to Hexham 2018.

Results available here

The Beer Belly Fun Run, Consett, Saturday, August 27, 2016

6 x 1k laps

Pam Kirkup

Stand and Deliver!

Stand and Deliver! … otherwise known as the 2nd Beer Belly Run from the Grey Horse pub in Consett raising funds for Motor Neurone Disease.

This has to be said is a ridiculous concept, one that we have inherited from America. The idea is that runners do 5 x 1K laps around a pub, after each lap you down a half of beer until the last lap when you down a pint. Thankfully I was driving and so was excused the beer swilling however the landlady did give me a glass of wine at the finish.

The entry form said that fancy dress was “positively encouraged” so Paul and I joined the throng – me as Adam Ant in ‘Dandy Highwayman’ mode and Paul as a Beverley Hillbilly. If you weren’t around in the ‘60s Paul’s outfit will be a mystery to you! There were some cracking costumes – Harry Potter characters, Freddy Mercury, a zombie with a rubber mask, Elvis and a man in drag with enormous false breasts to name but a few! The fancy dress prize went to a bloke wearing hideous white Y-fronts with a towel stuffed down the front, he had a knotted hankie on his head, he ran in wellies and he had a brown ‘skid mark’ painted on the back of his pants with some toilet paper hanging out of the waist band. Gross but hilarious! Blackhill Bounders had a few serious runners in it to compete for the prizes – even so I think I might have been second lady! Paul & I certainly finished quite high up … which might give you an idea of the standard.

Afterwards there was a buffet and 2 bands were due to play during the evening. We left after the buffet but it was a very enjoyable afternoon and an entirely fun event.

The inaugural event was last year to raise money for Parkinsons UK – a local teacher, Nigel Nattress had been diagnosed with the disease and the pub organised a series of events to raise money for the charity. The final sum raised was £5000+. Unfortunately, Nigel had been misdiagnosed – he actually had Motor Neurone Disease and died in the spring of this year. He was only in his 40s.

So this year the pub continues fund raising – this time for the MND charity and Marie Curie nursing. The pub raised £500 on Sunday alone. Some students from Longfield School in Darlington, where Nigel taught have raised £2000 in a sponsored sky dive.

The run might have been quite silly, great fun but in a very worthy cause.

What a Wheeze 5km Christmas Cracker, Ropner Park, Stockton, Sunday, December 6, 2015

Melanie Hudson


Dave holds nothing back with his Santa outfit.
Photo courtesy and © Karen Newton

This race is three laps of Ropner Park in Stockton and 5k in length. It is all on tarmac, and besides a tiny hill at the end of each lap, it is a very flat and fast course.

I entered this race for two reasons: the first being that entry included a medal with santa on, and the second being that I would get to dress up in my Mrs Santa outfit.

I had planned on taking it easy, since the only short events I have taken part in have been the parkrun, where I have mainly been volunteering as the 30 minutes pacer for the last few months. However, on the morning I felt like I had quite a bit of energy, and since the course was flat and on a good surface, I wondered if I could do under 25 minutes, I guess there was only one way to find out. So off I went, the first lap felt reasonably comfortable, the second lap I started to wonder if I could maintain my pace, in the third lap I could hear someone was trying to pass me which kept me going. However, he did eventually pass me on the final hill, only for him to then not turn off for the finish and headed off to do another lap. Thankfully he very quickly realised his error and turned back. By this point I was ahead of him, so I slowed and let him pass me at the finish, as I am sure he would have beat me had he not started a new lap. I came in at 24 minutes 18.

Dave also had a really good run, finishing in 26:12. He probably could have gone faster but he was also doing another 5k that afternoon, so needed to keep something in reserve for that. There were at least seven other Striders running.

It was not until the next day, when the results came out, that I discovered I was the 3rd lady to finish, thank you to Jill Young for picking up my prize.

Great Run Local, Gibside, Sunday, October 11, 2015


Jon Ayres

As the preparation for Marathons next year begins so the thinking of how to incorporate long runs into family time starts. The chance to take the Jr members of the clan for a day out at Gibside hall and for a few miles to be clocked up running there, followed by a harder end to the run appealed.

Having never done a “great local” run before I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but am happy to confirm that they feel very much like the parkrun of 5 years ago, friendly and well organised with the group totalling around 60 or so.

There are two runs – 2 and 5k – with the longer set off a few seconds earlier. The course starts flat but there are a couple of “lung busters” with the terrain being a mix of hard and softish trail. Marshalls are spread around though both I and Elaine Bisson managed to take wrong turns at separate points, fortunately these were soon corrected. The last mile or so is a long drop with a sharp short climb and a flat finish (very fast).

A great course in a terrific setting, definitely worth a visit.

For the record Elaine finished first Woman about ten seconds ahead of me, due to some really strong hill running, however as her wristband hadn’t arrived (a bit like the parkrun barcode, just a touch fancier) she wasn’t registered in the final results.

Phil Johnson 5k, Barrow Haven, Lincolnshire, Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Steph Piper


Clan PiperThis was a one-off race by Barton and District Athletics Club in memory of Phil Johnson, a local athlete who sadly lost his battle with cancer this year. I was down visiting the family for a few days and had taken my running gear, expecting to go for a training run with my dad and his club, the Wold’s Veterans. Formal training wasn’t on due to the Bank Holiday and dad decided to save his legs for the race on Tuesday evening.

I hoped there might be EOD, but dad said Phil had been a popular chap, and the 100-capacity race had sold-out with a long reserve list. Still, as we headed out the door dad to race, and the Piper girls to spectate I grabbed my running gear on the off-chance there might be a number going spare. At the registration desk, as dad picked his number up, I asked if they might have had a no-show and I could transfer. Even better they had a single number spare! For £3 (profits to the Brain Tumour Society), I was in. As they say up here Shy bairns get nowt!

We lined up on the start and, with a very brief announcement and thanks, were off along the flat country roads of Barrow-upon-Humber. The course was a simple triangle out from the pub with a couple of sharp left turns and back again. A couple of gentle inclines between the second and third km markers allowed me to leave several Barrow AC girls behind (I overheard several of dad’s Wolds Vets team mates lamenting these ‘hills’ at the finish line! Ah, the flatlands!).

I kept a steady pace round the course and the final mile towards the finish felt long, but with the Humber Bridge on the horizon resplendent again the sunset, it felt good to reflect on all that running is, and does. A lovely run out, and a befitting memorial race.

Sunderland 5K, Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Katy Walton

Quick 5k just what I needed to see where I was with my training. I headed over to Sunderland with Graeme who had race envy so he entered the race on the night.

It was a gorgeous sunny night with a good turn out of club runners including plenty of Striders.

First race up was female and V50 men. To the top of the hill Louise Warner, Sarah Davies and myself did go. Feeling nervous, I had heard the start was a scrabble with a chance of a tumble and a crushing as people run over you! Off we went down the hill immediately. Louise Warner must have had too many skittles as she flew down the hill ahead of me. Taking note that Stephen Jackson had gone off too fast last year I decided to let her go. “I will catch her” my positive mindset said.

Once at the bottom of the hill the runners go around the small lake, this did include a little hill, but soon you were heading along on the flat again. I managed to pass Louise on the bridge as we approached the lake. About 400 metres later Kim Simpson seemed to be getting closer to me, I reeled her in and went past, this gave me a boost to continue running as I was.

Up the hill to the crowds of supporters I went with huge cheers from Lesley, Phil, Catherine and the strider men who were ready to race. Back onto the lake path, this time to do a loop around the big lake.

I enjoyed this loop, you could see that the course ahead was flat, this just made me feel great and continue with my pace.

Before I knew it I was running back up the hill towards the supporters and there was the finish. It was over. I looked at my watch praying it to be under 21minutes and to my shock 20.03. Louise came in not far behind me followed by Sarah, both enjoying the race.

The guys race was over and done before you new it. The order changed between the Striders as they ran past to do their loops. We were all guessing who would come round first the next time, it was very exciting! Excellent efforts from all but Rob ran in first followed by Stephen and then Gareth. Graeme had a great run followed by Richard Hall senior. Simon Gardner had a fantastic time too he came in after the dashing trio ahead of Graeme.

I think this would be a great race for the sprint section in the Grand Prix next year. It’s local, very fast and they accept entries on the day.

Bottoms Up Cup, Sunday, May 31, 2015

Simon Gardner

I was supposed to be lining up at the Middlesbrough 5K but constant injury problems and not mentally able to push myself hard I decided (or bottled it) to give a new race a go and not chase a time.

The recently reformed Washington running club had put this 5K on to help publicise the club. The race HQ was based at Biddick school which meant excellent parking and facilities. After picking up my number I had a quick chat with John Hutchinson and then made the 10 minute walk from the school to the start.

The course is based in princess Anne park and after a short briefing we were on our way with a flat straight first 1K which then went down into the woods. They did say part of the course was on trail and with the overnight rain this made it very slippy in places. Obviously what goes down must come up and my heart sank at the sight of more steps to climb (I’d had my fill of steps at George ogle). This just about reduced most people to a walking pace.

Once out the woods it was back on to the paths with several undulations I was struggling to find any rhythm (running mojo lost please return to me if found ) but thankfully with being just 5K it wasn’t long until we were back on the finish straight crossing the line in 11th place.

It’s a very cheap race £5 and very well marshalled so if you fancy a good challenging 5K then it’s definitely one for next year.

Great Winter Run 5K, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh, Saturday, January 10, 2015

Laura Jackson

Laura Jackson - Elvet Striders' Ice Maiden!I signed up for this event in August last year as I was frightened I would stop running once the Great North Run was over in September 2014. Although it is only a 5K it takes in historic Arthur’s Seat and being an escaped Scot it was too much to resist. My sister and two of her friends also signed up so we had a team of four when we arrived in Edinburgh on Saturday morning, on what turned out to be a perfect winter’s day – sunny but crisp with a little frost underfoot on the grass.

Whilst waiting in the obligatory portaloo queue, fellow Strider Till Sawala came to say hello. He was also doing the event, having been in Edinburgh for work a few days previous to the event. We were given coloured “waves” to start in, a bit like the GNR. I was in green but my sister and her friends were in pink so I dropped back to pink with them. Each wave started about a minute or so apart but as it was chip timed it wasn’t an issue. Soon it was our turn to go.

A lovely flat downhill start quickly turned into a 2km gradient, up the right hand bank of Arthur’s Seat. The gradient got gradually steeper then it flattened out to some amazing scenery. Travelling round the back of the mound was something I’ve never done before so was unaware of the “loch” and also the scenery of Edinburgh and beyond.

Hailstones batter the runners around Arthur's SeatAs we continued around it became completely surreal. A big dark cloud which seemed to have appeared from nowhere released hailstones at such a force that it felt like we were being fired at with small missiles. Luckily I had decided not to ditch my Striders hoodie for my rain jacket as this gave some protection against the cold pellets that were firing in all directions. Some runners in front of me simply stopped as visibility was poor. I tied my hood up as high as I could and with my glasses as eye protection, I continued on my way.

Shortly after this, the hail morphed into big fat snowflakes and this signalled the final 2k descent which was without a doubt the best feeling ever. Running 2km completely downhill as the snow disappeared and the sun came back was a beautiful end to the event and on completing we were given a packed goodie bag, medal and long sleeved, non-tech, t-shirt (the Drumstick Squishies were eaten en route back to the car!) .

Goody bag minus Drumstick Squishies!I really enjoyed the race and will definitely use the route again as a casual run or perhaps for preparation for a hilly route as the hill itself was very difficult. This was a lovely 5K event and local to my parents so I’d probably do it again next year. My finish time was 38.39 which, given the weather and the mountain to climb, I wasn’t too bothered about, I was just pleased to have done,it and most importantly, enjoyed it. Well done too to Till, who finished a whole 20 mins before me and also in an amazing 22nd place- what a hero!

The race also provided the fringe event for the Great Edinburgh Cross Country that was being televised and as I was waiting on my sister to finish, I watched Chris Derrick doing his final preparations before then going on to win the men’s event later in the day. We would have probably stayed to watch if we had not been like snowy, wet icicles at the end.


Pos Name Club Cat Cat Pos Time
1 Nathan Cox Morpeth Harriers & AC 16:32
7 Annabel Simpson Fife AC 19:16
22 Till Sawala Elvet Striders 18:42
1844 Laura Jackson Elvet Striders 38:39

1881 finishers.