Five miles isn’t a particularly common race distance in the north-east as far as I can tell, there only seems to be a handful scattered through the race calendar in amongst the more common 5ks, 10ks and half marathons. Perhaps it was this uncommon distance, perhaps being in the middle of the spring marathon season (Paris, Manchester, London etc), or perhaps everyone had rusted up in the biblically damp lead-up to the race. Whatever the reason, it was a relatively small but hard-core Striders contingent of eleven that went out to play.
I scrounged a lift from Jonathan Hamill and his enthusiastic support team in a bid to cut down on carbon emissions. It was an easy journey and not just because I wasn’t driving. We arrived nice and early (just after 9 am), which meant no parking problems. After visiting the boat (not THE boat, sadly – that might have been a little more impressive!) to collect race number (with timing chip) and race t-shirt (sizing’s generous, so I went down a size), we made full use of the nearby McDonalds. Food for the support team, toilets for the athletes. We weren’t the only ones doing it! Other facilities are available.
The weather was starting to warm up from the extended winter we had been “enjoying”. Despite being fine and the sun attempting to break through there was still a chill in the southerly breeze. In the end, I opted to leave a light base layer under my club vest, big wuss that I am.
We warmed-up along Maritime Avenue, where the race would start and finish. By the time we got back to the start the rest of the racers had formed up in the start funnel, so we joined near the back. I was realistic about my likely finish position i.e. nowhere near the front, and the race was chip-timed, so I didn’t see the harm in starting near the back.
The course is essentially flat. It sets out next to the marina following Maritime Avenue through a housing estate before turning up a short incline through a car park and onto the promenade. It is an out and back course so once you’ve reached the turn you know what to expect on the way back. You also get to see the leaders on their return (or the chasers if you’re in the lead). As we met them coming back I counted the places and made Stephen Jackson 9th as we passed and it wasn’t long before I saw Chris Callan and some of our other faster runners on their return, giving me a chance to cheer them on.
I’ve been working my way back from some recent illnesses so I had set an easy expectation on myself – no PB to beat, no pressure. My plan was to set out at 8-minute mile pace, which I thought I could hold all the way through. I would see how I was feeling at 2 miles and then the turn (2.5 miles) and pick up the pace a little if I was feeling OK.
And I kind of stuck to that plan. Kind of. I held 8-minute mile pace for nearly 2 miles but seeing the leaders gave me a burst of adrenaline and my pace picked up before I realised what was happening. It felt OK and sustainable, so I kept at it, keeping around 7:40 pace most of the way back along the promenade. I was picking off other runners all the way back and this was the other advantage of starting from the back and running negative splits, it gave me natural targets to aim for. The route was plenty wide enough to allow easy passing all the way.
Getting to the last 600m or so I dropped back through the car park onto Maritime Avenue and the slight downward slope gave me the impetus to start pushing for the finish.
I’ve always had a finishing kick (a legacy of being a failed sprinter) so really wound it up in the final stretch, earning me a shout out from the tannoy announcer.
Stephen was first male Strider home (8th overall in 26:23) and Fiona Jones was first female (20th woman in 35:26 gun time). There were some other excellent times from Striders, including both Chris Callan and Michael Littlewood coming in under 30 minutes (sub 6-minute mile average). In total there were 493 runners with times ranging from a blistering 24:16 (new CR from Dominic Shaw of New Marske Harriers) to just over 1:07.
I loved this race. It was a great course, inexpensive and accessible. It’s a good opportunity to run this less common distance and a real PB opportunity.
I had been looking forward to this race following my great experience in 2015. This race is a very fast 5k course. On this night the sun was out and the wind up slightly, but no conditions to make the pb seekers fear their results.
Ladies and M50’s were the first group of people to charge down the 1k hill at the very start of the race. Elbows all out hoping that you don’t trip.
Once reaching the bottom of the hill a crowd of spectators greeted the eager runners as they started their small lap of the park.
Clearly marked kilometre signs were positioned en route for those keeping to a set pace.
As you finished the first loop of the park you approach the supporters again, Simon, Allan, Graeme, Mark, Stephen and Gareth were shouting loudly. Next is a larger loop where runners do a loop of the lake, at this point the wind was certainly making its point in slowing me down.
A lady who I often race against at the NEMAA ran past me which bucked me up a bit, I knew I was on par with her so my new aim was to keep on her.
A little mistake I made last year was that I didn’t push on the winning ‘straight’ (I was unaware where the finish was) and this year I was determined not to repeat my mistake so I started to pick up my pace and give my all.
A nasty little incline on the finishing straight certainly finished each runner off nicely!
Excellent times from all Striders, Stephen Soulsby, Elaine Bisson, Louise Warner, Lesley Charman, Fiona Jones and Karen Byng, Louise Barrow, Catherine Smith and Victoria Stott.
In the second race Strider men running were Gareth Pritchard, Stephen Jackson, Mark Warner and Graeme Walton, all men gave their all as the vast group of runners flew down the hill causing a big draft of wind to hit the spectators. Fabulous runs from all.
This race is a brilliant, cheap local race which can be entered on the night and also an offering of a good chance of a pb. See you next year Sunderland 5k!!
A couple of years ago a friend of mine recommended I run the Dentdale race – “just your kind of thing” she said, so it was one that had been on my radar for a while. When I discovered I had a Saturday where I wasn’t needed for ferrying to children’s parties I elected to give it a go. It was a bit of a last minute decision and I had no thoughts on pace or race strategy – I decided I just wanted to enjoy it.
When I got to the pretty village of Dent I was happy to see a good number of Striders, discussing how many layers we needed and warning each other of the hills ahead. The race started at 1pm which caused me all sorts of quandaries with regards to eating. As we lined up to start I realised my stomach was already rumbling and asking for lunch but it was too late to do much about it. Whilst waiting for the gun I spotted a Swaledale runner who I knew was pretty speedy and has beaten me on a number of occasions but I’d just manage to squeeze past her at the Viking Chase last year so knew she was a good target for me. I decided to try and stick with her as far as I could.
The race starts with a deceptively speedy descent but before long the first of many climbs kicks in. I managed to tuck in behind my Swaledale friend and began to enjoy making my way through the beautiful countryside. The course is a kind of figure of 8 (without crossing at the centre) so at the half way mark I caught sight of my car in Dent. Much as I was enjoying the race I was beginning to tire and was aware of more hills approaching but I resisted the temptation to just jump in and drive home. Around this point my Swaledale friend slowed down to have a gel. I pulled up next to her and we chatted about other races we’ve done and plans for the future. After a couple of minutes she waved me on, saying she felt she’d started too fast. Not long before, one of the many fabulous local supporters had told us we were second and third ladies and I began to worry I too had gone off too fast.
The second half includes one very long climb and then you get lulled into a false sense of security as you approach the half marathon point with a nice descent. The 13 mile marker hails a killer little hill and the last mile seemed to go on for ever. Eventually we were back in the village and the crowds were fantastic shouting us in so I managed a bit of a sprint finish (ish). I was delighted to see Gareth and Jack who had both had great runs and after a bit of refreshment we cheered in the other Striders.
All in all an absolutely beautiful, runnable yet challenging race and definitely one I’d recommend. My friend was right it was definitely my sort of thing and I hope to be back
Darlington 10k has to be one of my favourite races of the year without question, it’s fast, local, easy to enter and a very high standard to push everyone onto that all important PB. Last year this was a great race for me, I was in the best shape of my life and flew round in 35:45 which was still my 10k pb as I stood on the start line a year later with 51 fellow striders.
The number 1 strider support crew were in full force with Catherine Smith and Flip leading the cheers on the day, this is a real boost for races like this and a big help and greatly appreciated by all. They managed to capture some fantastic pictures and made the day even more special for us runners, so a big personal thank you from me.
I travelled down with 3 other fellow striders, parking up was easy and everything is very well organised. Good changing facilities, easy bag drop and central location for start/finish. Had a catch up with fellow striders then hit the road with speedy Rob and Simon for a good warm up. Not sure if its just me, but I felt a real buzz in the air, the weather was dry, no wind and the smell of PB was definitely in the air.
My running lately has really started to improve due massively to the input of my coach Allan who has invested his time and effort into my training. This is something as a club that we are really blessed with as Allan also successfully trains many striders like me in the club. After the London I knew my normal/typical running low was on the way and Allan’s 10k training program really helped boost my spirits with Darlington was my end goal.
I had a plan for this race which almost worked to perfection, the first 2 miles were the key for a chance at that PB. 10 sec below 35:45 pace for those first miles, next 3 trying to pick people off and really go for it to the end. So off we went and 5:47 average for first 2 miles, a great start. Time to start picking up the pace and chasing people down. The plan worked well but the course really is not that flat and you can see this clearly in the mile split times. The down hill sections do make up for it very well but it is still challenging at times. Running the course last year really helped, so i knew the finish was down hill and very fast, as you enter the shopping high street its really time to push hard for the line. I spent the whole race passing people and had a great battle with a Durham Harrier lad to the end and was a big buzz leaving him behind as I shot for the line.
Now I kept a eye on my splits so knew it would be close to a pb, but had no real idea of my time in that last mile or as I crossed the line. A very happy and big shock as I saw 35:30 on my watch and a massive sense of joy with another fantastic PB I really did not expect to get any time soon.
I was very shortly followed by rob everson @36:24 with another PB and showing great form over a distance that I know is hard for him. 49 striders were left to follow and all had a great run, comeback pb for coach Allan who somehow managed to fall towards the end and got spoiled rotten by the friendly first aid people after the race. Starting to learn this is standard for the coach and not his first trip .
PB runs also for Michael Littlewood @ 38:10, Catherine Elliott @ 48:44, Andrew Davies @48:26
All showing great form and surpassing their tentative pre race predictions. Strong runs from Lesley Charman and Simon Gardner also, showing real running form at a tough distance.
So another strider GP race done and I must admit to a sly happy grin when the nameless GP point hunter was unable to show. This due to being on an amazing holiday and really no contest when you have to decide a holiday or a GP run.
Fantastic race and will definitely be here again next year.