Category Archives: Fun Run

Jedburgh Three Peaks Ultra Marathon, Jedburgh, Saturday, October 27, 2018

38 miles

Aaron Gourley

This is a race I’d had my eye on for a number of years but never seemed to get round to entering. This year, with me being home alone as the family went away on holiday, it fell perfectly for me to run the race then have time to get home, changed and be back at the airport to pick them up later that evening.

At 38 miles, Jedburgh 3 Peaks is a pretty serious race – but only in distance. From an organisational point of view, this is as fun as it gets. From the encouragement to wear fancy dress for the opportunity to win a spot prize to the YMCA warm-up ahead of the start, this race is a lot of fun. This is very much like the Hardmoors Princess challenge but with unicorns!

With my alarm set at 4 am, I set off on the long drive up to the Scottish Borders. The morning was cold and the first snow of the winter was falling quite heavily as I drove up the A19, which was a little disconcerting.
Upon arriving at the rugby club in the centre of Jedburgh, it struck me as to just how cold it was going to be, so I immediately put on an extra layer then headed to registration. Before long we were all back outside at the start-line waiting to get going, but not until we were all made to dance the YMCA as part of the pre-race warm up. Such was the silliness that I forgot to set my watch and before I knew it we were off on the long run up the road and out of the town.

After a mile or so the route swings out to the river which is followed for another mile or so before crossing a very bouncy bridge which felt as though it was winding up to fling-off anyone who dared try and run across it. The route then meandered its way across fields and tracks and back along the riverside for a few miles, mainly following the St Cuthbert’s Way route. The recent high winds had felled a lot of old trees, which provided obstacles for us to negotiate.

The day was bright and the sky was clear and blue, but there was a bracing wind and it was extremely cold in the shade. I tried to maintain a very steady pace and not get carried away by running too fast on what was a fairly flat and very runnable surface. I’d set myself the goal of completing the race in 8hrs. This was a very comfortable amount of time for the distance but meant I could enjoy the race without overcooking it. Given how badly I’d crashed in my other races this year, this was all about pacing and keeping my heart rate low.

The route was proving to be quite spectacular in the cold late autumn sun and the colours of the leaves added to the overall beauty of the route. The lack of rain over the summer meant sections that would normally have been a quagmire were fairly dry which those veterans of the race around me commented on.

I didn’t stop at the first checkpoint at Maxton Church, but continued my run over fields, along tracks, through plantations and across roads until eventually reaching the second checkpoint at Rhymer’s Stone where I had a drop bag waiting with some supplies such as a milkshake and a few energy bars. I grabbed my bag, stashed my food and drinks and made off as quickly as possible as now, up ahead, were the Eildon Hills which form the 3 peaks in this race.

At the foot of the first, I looked up to see a long line of runners making their way up the side. I joined in the trudge up the steep climb until eventually reaching the summit. Ahead lay the second and third peaks, which got respectively lower. I made my way across them before dropping off the third and circling back around underneath them and into the woods that leads to the third checkpoint at Bowden and the ‘Play Park of Doom’!

Silliness is dished out by the bucket load at Bowden where, following an ambush by someone dressed as a bat (or at least I think that’s what it was), runners are funnelled into the play park where they must negotiate the obstacles which are essentially the climbing frames and slides of a children’s play park.

From Bowden, the route retraces its steps back to the finish and I was running well at this point and really enjoying the race. I was still making good ground on those that had been drawn into running too fast at the start but always conscious not to get carried away.

The run back was pleasant and I arrived back at the final checkpoint at Maxton to grab my last drop bag which had a few treats in to see me through the last 10 miles. I’d been starting to tire in the run back here so I set off at walking pace to try and conserve a little energy. The route, back retraced our steps from the start of the race and before long I was heading back across the bouncy bridge for the final few miles back into town.

I shuffled my way up the road with the finish in sight, which was as lively as it had been when we left. There was music playing and supporters lined the finish funnel to greet runners as they wearily made their way to the finish line.

As I crossed the line I was handed my medal and a goody bag, which was probably one of the best I’ve had in a race – mainly because it contained beer and a fine t-shirt. I’d highly recommend this race to anyone who is looking to step up to ultra-distance but worried about the challenge and the seriousness of the runners. This is a fun race where runners get lots of support in a beautiful part of the world.

Results http://www.kitst.co.uk/jultra2018.html

 

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Lakes Alive Festival – Wolfing down the miles, Friday, September 7, 2018

Jack Lee

I feel that the Elvet Striders have taken part of some odd and wacky events over time but it isn’t often that you get to impersonate a wolf for a weekend, so when Stuart Scott forwarded me an appeal for fell runners to impersonate wolves for the Lakes Alive festival, I applied.

At this point, I never foresaw actually doing the event. And so it was, with a fair bit of trepidation, that I donned my wolf cape and wolf head and set off on the Friday morning.

The event was part of the Lakes alive festival starting at Humphrey Head (the location of the last wolf in Britain) and running to Kendal. Over the space of three days the wolves had a lot to do. The aim of the game was for the public to come and “hunt” the wolves, which essentially involved members of the public trying to photograph the wolves and the wolves being elusive and evasive. The second day, however, involved a staged event where the public were ferried out to Mill Side and had a close encounter with the wolves but I am getting ahead of myself.

Anyway getting back on track, at 8 am on Friday the 7th of September, myself and three other fell runners from Sheffield set off from Humphrey Head, making the excursion through Allithwaite, Cartmel and Lindale over the space of the day. Each time we saw humans we skulked and hid in the shadows, but not well enough that they didn’t get a sighting. This, combined with howling on hilltops and relative gentle progress, marked a relatively casual first day, which ended in a bunkhouse in Mill Side eating good food and drinking a couple of beers with the trackers turned off.

The next day was focussed on the exhibition events where members of the public were ferried out to Mill Side for two events; one in the morning and the second in the afternoon. Early in the morning, the wolf pack set off for an hour or so run, over Whitbarrow where at approximately 11.30am we emerged from mists on the top and howled while visible to the people sheltering in the hide below. We then set off leaping rocks and pieces of broken limestone pavement and throwing ourselves down a steep slope to appear fifteen minutes later around a staged “kill” (in reality a deerskin and head). We approached carefully checking for danger while rubbing scent onto a couple of trees and getting our legs torn to pieces by brambles. Then after a while feasting on deer, all our heads went up in unison and we scampered off into the undergrowth. Only to reappear in the afternoon to go through it all again.

It was after this second performance that my time as a wolf came to an end and after some dinner, I got a lift back to Kendal to spend some time with my brother and father. The next day, however, I decided that the hunted would become the hunter. Not many people had been actively hunting the wolves during the first few days so after a coffee in Kendal I donned my running kit and grabbed my phone and the hunt began. The game platform was composed of a website with a live tracking display of the wolves’ locations, but to access this you had to share your location and I knew from experience as a wolf that if a hunter got within 200m then the wolves would be pinged an alert.

The wolves at this time were on Scout Scar and from my cunning and the route map, I had accidentally kept, I figured out I could cut them off as they circled Kendal from the west. I legged it up Underbarrow roads and waited near the top, but a game of cat and mouse ensued.

The wolves dodging other hunters repeatedly cut up and down the hillside meaning I kept overshooting or dropping short with only a few long distance sightings. I decided to relocate to the Kendal golf course where, hiding behind a wall lying fully prone, I got some photographs of the wolves passing. After a bit of a chase, we then met down in Kendal and I joined them for a final jog to the main staging point of the Lakes Alive festival. We were accompanied by a group of kids dressed up in wolf costumes of their own. All that was left after that was to wolf down some biscuits and a cup of coffee provided, then I left the pack and set off as a lone wolf.

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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

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