Category Archives: half-marathon

Vale of York Half Marathon, Sunday, September 9, 2018

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

Ian Butler

Trails and Tribulations – How to be a Very Amateur Athlete

Background

Since joining Striders 3 years ago and getting in to this running lark, I have often questioned my self as to whether I am an athlete or not.

I am often the recipient of letters and emails from various sporting organisations addressed to ‘Dear athlete’, and note on race applications and results lists, that athletes are participating in the same event as my self. But the fact is I just don’t see myself as one of the tribe.

A definition I have found describes an athlete as:

A person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise

However, my experiences this year whilst preparing for and taking part in races hardly demonstrates proficiency in sport, and in reality is more like a long list of complete cock-ups. Having said that, I think with the Vale of York Half Marathon, I am starting to crack it and may be on my way the being a proper athlete. I will now try and explain:

For me, an athlete must have a six pack, muscles in the right places, a square jaw and absence of numerous chins, look the part with all the right gear, and demonstrate excellence in their chosen sport. This goes back to my youth when sporting athletic hero’s looked the part and delivered. People like Brendan Foster, Linford Christie, Sally Gunnell, Kelly Holmes and Alf Tupper were in their prime, and achieving sporting greatness, and are the role models on which I measure what an athlete should be.

I conversely don’t fit in to that mould.

Firstly, my body has a bit of wear and tear, consisting of a series of sporting and work related injuries, held together primarily by scar tissue and lumpy bits. Getting out of bed in a morning, any form of sudden movement, or just walking the short distance from the bed to the loo, is always accompanied by a soft ‘Oooooh’ or “Argghhhhh’ as I manage the aches and pains and delicately try to get things moving. Once I get going, I’m fine, but the getting going gets harder with age.

Secondly, my list of athletic achievements remains short. Admittedly, I was a joint winner at the Maltby Church School wheelbarrow race (1973). I competed in the Inter-house schools cross country (1981), finishing around the back of the field limping in and ending up in hospital having 3 stitches after falling over in the mud at Roche Abbey. I completed the Raby 10k and was awarded a prize, but could not collect it as it was for 3rd finisher in the W60 section having taken a hand me down entry off a friend. I was 32 at the time.

Quite simply, I could not see myself as either athletic or an athlete.

However, things changed a little at the beginning of the year when I retired from work. With more time to focus on training I vowed to improve my running and compete more effectively in races, working to more of my strengths to help improve my fitness.

With very dodgy knees, which are painful in a morning and after longer distance runs, I simply could not risk increasing running mileage. Therefore in addition to the usual weekly runs, I focused on working very hard in spinning classes, 2 sometimes 3 times a week, and cycling in general. This helped me enormously, both aerobically and strength wise, and helped feed my competitive urge when I started to see some improvements.

A failure on my part was not to have a training plan as such. In my mind, if I worked harder, then there should be some improvement. However, as a training aid I have bought a Garmin Run / cycle / swim watch, which I have to admit is brilliant. Apart from trying to run a route, which writes my name on the Garmin Mapping Package, the advantages of the Garmin are many fold. I now know what different running paces feel like rather than second guessing, I can see performance improvement in the stats, I can see what times mates have run and rub it in that they should be faster than me by virtue of age.

In December last year, with little specific training I completed a half marathon for the first time in around 25 years in Sunderland. It killed me, and post race I could hardly walk around, with stiff legs, hips and other bits. However, I had set a marker PB, which I vowed to beat when I next competed in a similar race at some point in 2018, and the VOY Half Marathon was my target.

In the meantime, I had to do more races leading up to VOY to iron out how to do it properly, with out messing up. With that in mind, I have learnt some interesting lessons through competition:

1) Pre Race Food

Running magazines, wise wisdom and other top tips seem to advise that Carb loading is a good idea the night before a race, with a nice pasta dish being a meal of choice.

That’s all well and good, but I have a great recipe for a Chilli and baked bean sausage casserole, which I made the night before the Trail Outlaws Penshaw Monument half Marathon. As hills were expected in this race, I washed the meal down with a bottle of Wainwrights Beer.

The problems started at about 3am with some stomach gurgling.

Having taken appropriate measures I was ok until the moment 20 minutes before the race when I had a distinct need to complete a 100m dash to the toilets. I was pre prepared having taken a role of Andrex™ Best from home, but the main issues was not my ablutions, but the fact I fell off the toilet as the screws holding it to the floor came away and tipped me off. Unbeknown to me, the plumbing from the cistern was now detached, from the toilet, so when I flushed the loo, 10 gallons of water flooded the men’s toilet block. I managed to do some plumbing repairs,, but the cubicle was a mess. I’m sorry if this affected anyone at the time, but I did report it, and it wasn’t my fault, but it was a lesson learned, make sure you eat the right food before a race.

2) Pre Race Ablutions (and Post race ablutions)

The motto is be prepared, and go regularly so that the system is clear.

I thought it was clear on the Gateshead trail 10K at Blaydon, but about a quarter of the way around I had that stomach gurgling again. Whether this was pre race nerves affecting my system or what I’m not sure. The effect was that as the race went on I was running with very tense muscles, and was very close to making a dash to some tree cover to seek relief. Counting down the last kilometres was desperate. However, I eventually managed to get over the line, grabbed my medal and continued at 4-minute mile pace to the toilet cubicles.

That was another lesson learned on my way to being an athlete.

3) Water

This is a real problem for me. Not the fact that I need to take water on board, but how to take water on board at water stations. Race organisers seem to think up different innovative ways to soak me rather than feed water in.

For instance:

  • a) Paper cup – Water split all over the place and trying to drink whilst on the move always ends up with water splashing dribbling down the side of my face
  • b) Water Bottles – Always seem too big, can’t find the opening and I have to tilt my head back, missing my mouth and again dribbling water all over the place
  • c) Water pouches – As used at the Durham 10k. This was a real hard one to master, as I simply could not get the water out whilst running, so gave the damn thing a really good squeeze, resulting in a jet of water in the face and up my nose, missing my mouth completely.

My agreed approach now is that I simply don’t care, and as long as I take water on board, I’m happy.

4) Jelly Babies and other race nutrients

Race organisers like to give out nutritional treats at feeding stations, particularly Jelly babies, which in the right circumstances are great.

Personally, I bite the heads off and chew them, but the dilemma is how many do you take from the box,? And can you select the red berry ones, and ditch the green ones without losing time?

At a Trail Outlaws race I just grabbed a handful as I passed the feeding station, but had too many to eat at once with out feeling sick. Rather than chucking to them away, I decided to keep a few back, only for them to create a horrible sweaty and sticky goo in my hand.

Is it race etiquette to grab a handful, or just take a few selected ones to nibble at?

I have not worked this one out yet, so it’s work in progress..

5) Race Strategy

I’m always being given helpful advice on race strategy. Whether that relates to the pace for the race, (start out slower and finish faster; start out faster and finish slower; just hang in there for grim death), or make sure you get near the front at the start.

The reality is that I fail on race strategy on the day, other than by adopting an approach that I must beat Runner X to the finish line. Runner X being a friend from the dark side, otherwise known as Durham City Harriers.

So far it’s 2 all on the races we have caught up with each other, with me taking the 10k races, and him the half marathons. I tend to start fast and gain a lead, then he gets me as a die close to the finish line

I need some coaching on race strategy.

6) Photographs

This is a completely new concept to participation in sport, both in training and at events.

It never ceases to amaze me that so many photo opportunities exist. The only problem I have, is that I have a great face for radio.

From photos I’ve seen, I seem to manage to pull a tremendous gurning race face, look like a burglars bull dog chewing a wasp, or generally look half dead, even when I’m stationary and not even started the run.

Once I’m up and running, strategically placed photographers always manage to capture me looking as if I’m in the mid throws of collapse, or dealing with trapped wind.

A recent article in Runners World stressed the virtues and benefits of running with a smile, and the evidence of this is everywhere in photos of others, happily running with a happy carefree smile and striking new PBs.

I’m just going to have to smile more when running in order to achieve my goals.

The Race

With these observations in mind, I made my way to Sherburn In Elmet for the VOY, with a view of trying to get a new PB for the distance.

On arrival, the first thing to notice at the race start, was the total absence of Crocodiles, Father Christmases, Dinosaurs, Hen & Stag parties and runners carry fridges on their backs.

What was obvious was the number of club runners sporting their club vests. A smattering of north eastern clubs were represented, but I guess the GNR drew in many from our region. However, the race was dominated by clubs from Yorkshire, such as Steel City Striders, Grimthorpe Harriers, and Royston Vasey ACC. With the promise of a flat fast paced course, the race had clearly attracted many runners intent on going for a good time or PB.

Mayor in foreground with runners behind (Photo © and courtesy John Ashton)
Photo © and courtesy John Ashton

Getting to the start was simple. The only local celebrity available to start the race was the Mayor of Selby, who thanked everyone for coming and set off the race with his air horn.

I’m pleased to say the execution of my plans went well:-

1) Pre race food

Pasta, and no negative after effects.

2) Pre Race Ablutions

Got to the start in good time, and completed without issue.

3) Water

No problems, I just saved the hassle by pouring it over my head.

4) Jelly Babies

Avoided

5) Race Strategy

Got near the front at the start.

I went out far too fast, died at 8 miles as I turned in to the wind, but managed to keep things going and got over the line in a new PB.

Runner X got to the finish line 11 seconds ahead of me after a last ditch overtake, and that’s not got to happen next time.

Having said that I had the moral victory as he is 10 years younger than me, but I wasn’t able to articulate that well to him after the race, plus he wasn’t listening.

6) Photographs

Smiled all the way around, with evidence from the event photo gallery.

Conclusion

Its fair to say that I have learnt my lessons, shown improvement and despite several previous mishaps, have become a little more proficient in this chosen sport. If that makes me an athlete, then I am a happy runner, and role on the XC season.

posbibnamecatcat poschip timegun time
1835Kev Jeffress (Sunderland Harriers & AC)M351/1521:11:481:11:49
3824Stephen JacksonM352/1521:12:001:12:00
32235Chris CallanM3511/1521:19:101:19:12
371012Sarah Lowery (Rotherham Harriers & AC)F351/1111:19:521:19:56
60712Georgie HebdonMSEN20/1931:22:431:22:48
16332Michael AndersonMSEN42/1931:30:031:30:09
379857Fiona JonesF4012/1411:40:311:40:57
429223Ian ButlerM5520/711:42:291:42:43
541948Nick LathamM4566/1561:46:551:47:20
587193David BrowbankM3582/1521:48:261:49:05
675957Marita Le Vaul-GrimwoodF4520/1091:51:231:53:10
719601Simon GrahamM3598/1521:53:121:54:34
7471764Vaughn WilliamsM35101/1521:54:451:55:54
81385Stephanie BarlowF4527/1091:57:261:57:53
8791017Stephen LumsdonM45120/1561:57:521:59:46
9671400Jill RudkinF4050/1412:01:152:02:57
11071621Mark TodmanM35134/1522:07:182:09:37
14421566Julie SwinbankF35100/1112:33:492:35:00

Vale of York Half Marathon Results, Sunday, September 9, 2018

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

posbibnamecatcat poschip timegun time
1835Kev Jeffress (Sunderland Harriers & AC)M351/1521:11:481:11:49
3824Stephen JacksonM352/1521:12:001:12:00
32235Chris CallanM3511/1521:19:101:19:12
371012Sarah Lowery (Rotherham Harriers & AC)F351/1111:19:521:19:56
60712Georgie HebdonMSEN20/1931:22:431:22:48
16332Michael AndersonMSEN42/1931:30:031:30:09
379857Fiona JonesF4012/1411:40:311:40:57
429223Ian ButlerM5520/711:42:291:42:43
541948Nick LathamM4566/1561:46:551:47:20
587193David BrowbankM3582/1521:48:261:49:05
675957Marita Le Vaul-GrimwoodF4520/1091:51:231:53:10
719601Simon GrahamM3598/1521:53:121:54:34
7471764Vaughn WilliamsM35101/1521:54:451:55:54
81385Stephanie BarlowF4527/1091:57:261:57:53
8791017Stephen LumsdonM45120/1561:57:521:59:46
9671400Jill RudkinF4050/1412:01:152:02:57
11071621Mark TodmanM35134/1522:07:182:09:37
14421566Julie SwinbankF35100/1112:33:492:35:00

Great North Run, Sunday, September 9, 2018

Pam Kirkup

Striders and Friends just off the bus

The Great North Run – And The Benefit of Hindsight

Hindsight is a wonderful thing don’t you think? And it was with the benefit of hindsight – I realised quite quickly, yesterday actually – that thinking of running the GNR was extreme folly! Let’s look at the facts – I hadn’t done a serious race since 2017, the Coniston 14 in March. Since then I did the Beer Belly run, a fun run in Consett – 5K of fancy dress mayhem on August Bank Holiday 2017, and a couple of park runs this year. I had to defer my GNR number for last year. So there I was in the late spring this year, my knees had at last started behaving themselves, so I thought, hey, I’ll start training for the GNR. After all I would have paid over £100 for the same number.

Pam's Black Eye from the 2015 GNRSo around 2 months of training commenced, basically starting from scratch. My longest run (last weekend) was 9 miles on the Waskerley Way, painfully slow. But I thought, what the Hell, I’ll get round. The plan was to start very slow, and to walk up the hills. Or to do Allan Seheult’s run 5mins walk 2mins plan. I had serious doubts all last week but I thought – what’s the worst that could happen … another black eye?? After all, it was plastered all over the walls of Howtown Outdoor Ed Centre when I was a young teacher “A quitter never wins; a winner never quits”. So no quitter, I thought just do it.

Sunday dawned and I pitched up for the bus. Arriving at the start there was the usual stampede for the toilet cubicles (with many repeat visits!). At first the weather was uncertain – rain or sun? Or both, as it turned out. Eventually, I went to my number area (green) and my ‘pen’ group (i). Kay Cairns was there along with a few new Striders. It was a long wait with rain, then sun, then more rain … and the Red Arrows. It took around 35 minutes of walking to cross the start line, mostly walking. And then we were off. I didn’t even start my watch but I realised pretty quickly that my ‘start slow’ plan wasn’t working. On the Tyne Bridge I spotted that my number/pen group were following the pace flags for 2h25 and 2h 35 – surprisingly close to each other. I was thinking about 3hours (pathetic I know!) but realistic. So I slowed down and after the Tyne Bridge walked up to the Felling Bypass. By then, Mo would approaching the last mile and a sub hour victory!

So far so good. It was warming up and I got to Heworth ok with the run/walk plan. It was when I got to Whitemare Pool that things began to unravel. I was hot and I was starting to feel achy. I thought it was the beginning of cramp. Very soon just about everything below the waist began to tighten up and ache. By then I was walking. I trotted into a St John’s Ambulance tent and explained that I thought I was cramping up and could I have a painkiller? “Oh no” they said, “ We couldn’t possibly give you Ibuprofen!”. “To protect my kidneys?” I asked. (You see I do listen Paul Evans!!). “That’s right”, they said. So they applied something topically to my legs and lower back. I have no idea what it was, there was no smell and it could well have been a placebo, but it did seem to work, for a short while. They also gave me an electrolyte drink and sent me on my way. By the time I got to the John Reid Road and around 8 miles I was struggling. My legs really hurt and running was just so painful. So walking and the odd period of jogging ensued for the rest of the way. I’d had lots of spectators shouting encouragement and calling out my name. And around 9 miles I heard “Pam Kirkup, Elvet Striders, what are you doing back here? Get a bloody move on”! I have no idea who it was but it was both flattering and encouraging but also a little bit disheartening. I knew I could do much better. By the time I got to 10 miles I began to think ‘no this is not cramp it’s just extreme muscle fatigue’. I kind of imagined my legs screaming out at me “No! Enough already! What are you playing at? We’re not prepared for this”. And if muscles could speak they would have been right. My training had been minimal and I just didn’t have the stamina or the endurance to get around without causing this level of pain and discomfort.

When I got to the horrible hill at mile 11 I looked around me and thought, ‘Yes I’ve found my level’. Nobody was running – young, old, slim, overweight – everyone was walking. And then we got to the Elvis Impersonator at the top of the hill. I didn’t actually see him but the song ‘King Creole’ was belting out. The last time I ran the GNR his song was ‘The Wonder of You’ which, in my case, would have been somewhat ironic this year!

I had hoped to run down the hill to Marsden and along the last mile to the finish but by then my legs had seriously gone. I managed a few hundred yards but then I realised I was wobbling so much that walking was the best I could do. I did think they might give way but I got to the finish and then lurched off to the baggage bus for my stuff.

I got to the pub after a very slow walk – mainly the crowds –to Bents Park and then up the hill to the Look Out. I’m not a beer drinker but I have to say, the restorative powers of a pint of lager are amazing. By the time we left the leg wobble had gone and the pain was receding.

Positives – at least I finished even though it was tempting to jump on one of the hoppers taking struggling runners to the finish; I managed to avoid the burly nutters and thugs so wasn’t pushed over and no black eye; I have recovered quite quickly – no pain today; and it hasn’t put me off. It’s just made me realise I have to do much more consistent training for such a race. Maybe I should do a few 10Ks and build up. From nothing to a half marathon like the GNR is probably foolish – with the benefit of hindsight!

posbibnametime
11MO FARAH (Newham & Essex Beagles AC)00:59:27
1201VIVIAN CHERUIYOT01:07:43
47675Gareth Pritchard01:16:46
99655Michael Littlewood01:20:40
3145897Sam Renwick01:26:57
6241138Allan Renwick01:31:25
625634Mark Warner01:31:26
6935047Barrie Kirtley01:32:15
938864stuart scott01:34:28
10274843Bryan Potts01:35:06
12873317MATTHEW ARCHER01:36:57
138656649Anna Basu01:37:37
16801506Paul Swinburne01:39:18
2303478Louise Warner01:42:36
33079715Peter Hart01:46:39
33134247Louise Morton01:46:41
35226658Chris Shearsmith01:47:27
37885169Natalie Bell01:48:22
43747751David Holcroft01:50:05
440626448Lottie Middleton01:50:11
44447542Andrew Davies01:50:18
52475007Anna Seeley01:52:34
52887058Simon Marsden01:52:42
569714842Peter Matthews01:53:47
676257183Robert Gratton01:56:31
780215977Sarah Mallett01:58:56
80649312Craig Walker01:59:27
85427103Jan Panke02:00:28
86328995adam morton02:00:39
894012330Clare Wood02:01:20
900517694Angela Dixon02:01:29
93089197Trevor Chaytor02:02:09
937511633Lesley Hamill02:02:17
937611577karen byng02:02:17
103657302Robin Linton02:04:25
1099418976Ben Gary Hunt02:05:44
1139426387Kirsten Fenwick02:06:30
1152816675Sarah Fawcett02:06:46
1172012209Jane Dowsett02:07:07
1189725603Stephen Ellis02:07:27
121419299Alexander Brown02:07:56
1247214581Catherine Smith02:08:31
1253619454Letitia Ward02:08:39
1293425234Andrew Thurston02:09:17
134292224Peter Bell02:10:15
1525941780Kimberley Wilson02:13:24
1592817764John Greathead02:14:29
1658125325Faye Ward02:15:33
1674013488Rachel Boal02:15:48
1689425057lee stephenson02:16:06
1944017935Rebecca Blackwood02:20:19
1971646560Jennifer Roll02:20:46
2028939888Maria Dimova-Cookson02:21:47
2190416766Deborah Jones02:24:30
2224318345John Robson02:25:02
2238516982Adam Bent02:25:16
227678594Lee Brannan02:25:54
2301326715JAMES NICHOLSON02:26:16
2401521993Kelly Guy02:27:51
2492117092Danielle Glassey02:29:23
2498340413Alex Witty02:29:29
2531115783Wendy Littlewood02:29:58
2583517414Alan Harvey Smith02:30:58
2629513713Helen Wilkes02:31:49
2727747907Sophie Dennis02:33:32
276798001Sue Walker02:34:18
2791839401Angela Cowell02:34:43
2828126402carol holgate02:35:23
2891157943Rachel Coy02:36:34
2952727538Jane Baillie02:37:49
2998838639Louise Hughes02:38:43
3044624970David Rushton02:39:37
3046131126Christine Farnsworth02:39:38
31888302MICHAEL NICHOLSON02:42:23
3189840065karen chalkley02:42:24
3244236923Rachel Toth02:43:36
3277640184Sharon Pattison02:44:26
3289725949Joanne Porter02:44:44
3290025194Joanne Richardson02:44:44
3449659023Kathryn Hancock02:48:58
3450141083PAUL OHARA02:48:58
3573241330Jan Magee02:52:31
357378837Martin Welsh02:52:32
3735838745MARGARET THOMPSON02:57:59
3948145562Derek Isles03:07:12
3951635836Kay Cairns03:07:22
4076245510Claire Galloway03:15:27
4177539745Pamela Kirkup03:24:36
4202654172Celeste Veitch03:27:54
42115366Barrie John Evans03:29:07

Vale of York Half Marathon, Sunday, September 9, 2018

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

Nick Latham

Vale of York Half Marathon was my first race at this distance back in 2015 and I loved the event, so wanted to pay it another visit. It’s based out of the aero club near Sherburn-in-Elmet (between Leeds and Selby), so it’s a bit of a drive to get to (about 1 hour 30 minutes from Durham), but not outrageous for a half marathon. I’d arranged to give a lift to David Browbank and Georgie Hebdon, partly to be a bit greener and partly to have company on the drive. It was a smooth journey down the A1 as one might expect for early on a Sunday morning, only punctuated by the seemingly never-ending road works in two places. Sherburn in Elmet is only 10 minutes or so off the A1, so really easy to get to.

We knew that the road to the car park was also part of the race route and the access was being closed at 9am, so setting off at 6:40am to get there just after 8am seemed like enough contingency for any travel problems; it was plenty. As we arrived, we chuckled at the apparently over-zealous marshalling in the car park as we headed over to the portaloos and registration (in that order, got to get your priorities straight). We were early enough that both queues were limited and the loos were still in a decent state, so there was an added benefit to being early.

For some reason, the aero club seemed to be a centre for the local wasp population, so once the car park entrance was closed and the announcement went up to head over to the start we trotted over to shake them off and made use of the runway for the rest of our warm-up. Conditions were cloudy and reasonably mild (mid to high teens celsius) but breezy; looking back, we had much better overall conditions than the Great North Run competitors were “enjoying” that morning. The start was scheduled for 9:30am but was delayed for about 10 minutes for people arriving late at the start. After a couple of short announcements, we were off.

Main group
Photos © and courtesy John Ashton

The course was slightly modified for this year but started in a similar way to my previous experience – we went most of the length of the runway and looped back before following the aero club roads out onto the surrounding lanes. I set off at 8 minute mile pace as that was my plan and what I intended to hold for the first half of the race. Once I’d settled into my pace, I switched to keeping tabs on my heart rate, since I know from experience how best to manage my effort through the race.

Nick Latham in the main field (Photos © and courtesy John Ashton)One of the big attractions of the course is that it’s almost completely flat. There’s one rise in the form of a bridge over the railway line which we reached just after 3 miles and appears again on the return. I eased off the pace coming up the slope and picked up a little coming down the other side before settling back into my pace.

The camber of the roads is, shall we say, interesting. In places they’re pretty flat, in others they distinctly roll off to one side or another, so at times I had to pick my line carefully to avoid running across the slope. The beauty of the smaller field (limit of 2,000) meant that after the first couple of miles it was possible to pick whatever line I wanted.

Georgie Hebdon (Photos © and courtesy John Ashton)After the railway bridge, there was a stretch through Bishop Woods, which was also where the first water station was set up. The road continued along to a crossroads shortly after 5 miles where a left turn started the loop of the lollipop-shaped course. Just after taking the turn I started on my fuelling – jelly babies – which I know I benefit from and have tried in training before. I find them less uncomfortable on my stomach than gels.

I’ve heard people describe the course as dull, but I think the area’s very attractive, with lots of open countryside, occasional housing and some variety to the views. A lot of the people who live in the area come out to watch the race and support the runners, some at junctions & turns, some at the ends of their drives. It’s a welcome boost all round the course.

Michael Anderson (Photos © and courtesy John Ashton)Just after the second water station, about halfway round the loop, I started to pick up the pace a little – about 7:50 per mile, sticking to the plan – which lasted until about the end of mile 8, when the wheels started to come off. My legs were numb and I had to ease my pace off to around 8:20 per mile just to keep my heart rate in check; I knew that if I tried to push on at the pace I wanted I would blow up way before the finish, and I had a feeling that breeze was going to play a bigger part towards the end. I gritted my teeth and concentrated on plugging on, keeping my heart rate progression where I wanted it. Over the next 3 miles or so, I managed to keep up at between 8:10 and 8:20 pace, ignoring the last water station in the woods and measuring my effort over the bridge – easing on the climb and accelerating downhill again.

That breeze I mentioned had mostly been at our backs, cross-winds or sheltered in places by the wood or the hedges. As we turned back along Bishopdyke Road, just after 11 miles, it was full in our faces and a fair bit stronger than it had been on the way out. There was still two miles to go, no prospect of shelter from the wind and dead legs. This was purgatory. Even turning a 90 degree left turn towards the aero club at 12 miles didn’t seem to help. Nothing for it but to focus on trying to keep form and cadence, dig deeper and just get to the finish. It was great to get shout outs from faster Striders who’d already finished, like Chris Callan, and other Strider supporters on the run in. From my previous running of the course, I knew where the finish was so I was able to time my final effort. I hadn’t used any of my fast-twitch fibres up to that point, so managed a respectable kick over the last hundred metres or so, but that was my lot. I left everything out on the course and that’s all I could ask of myself.

If I’d managed to pull off what I’d intended in my planning, I would have achieved a PB compared to Sunderland 2017. As it was, I came in 2 minutes slower at 1:46:55 (chip time), but beating my previous time on this course by 3 minutes. I could try to blame the wind, but I reckon it only took about 40 seconds out of me over those last two miles. The truth is that my training wasn’t enough to support my aspiration. The important thing is I’m going to take the experience and see how I can adapt my training to achieve it next time.

David Browbank (Photos © and courtesy John Ashton)Georgie was already back (a long time before me!) and David was right behind me – I was still trying to stand upright without feeling like I was going to fall over when he emerged from the goody-bag distribution. Some of the other Striders arrived too, including Simon, Stephen J & Vics and Steph. We had a chat about the race and watched the prize-giving, proudly cheering Stephen collect his prize for 3rd male. By this point, we’d cooled down and agreed it would be a good idea to be ready to escape the car park once they re-opened it. We knew the access was being shared with the race route, so might need to be patient.

Fiona Kinghorn-Jones (Photos © and courtesy John Ashton)From where we sat in the exit queue, we couldn’t see what was happening but the shouty marshals who were there when we arrived were curiously absent. Eventually there were signs of movement but mostly behind us rather than ahead as people bolted for a different exit. We eventually decided that was the better option and joined them. Once we were out, it was a smooth run back home.

The following day there was an email from the organisers which explained what had happened and why the start and parking arrangements were different to previous years. In short, they’d been denied access to a piece of land they had previously used and the aero club had stepped in at the last minute, which allowed the race to go ahead. The exit arrangements were always going to be a challenge, but were compounded by someone ignoring the road closure and then getting their car & trailer stuck in the entrance gate. The organisers have promised to learn from this year’s arrangements and improve them for future years, and I’m fully confident that they will.

Stephen Jackson on the podium (Photos © and courtesy John Ashton)Apart from the parking problems, which for us were only a minor niggle, the only downside with hindsight was that none of us thought to organise a Striders group photo before the start. I’ve tracked down some excellent photos from John Ashton, amongst which I humbly submit my own Race Face and Flying Feet nomination for this year.

I’m told the course has a lot in common with the Brass Monkey – mostly flat, one bridge, a loop to turn, a common start & finish. Perhaps with the right adjustments to my training over the next few months, that might be where I could try again to recover those lost minutes. Before I get carried away I’ll see if I can get an entry first!

posbibnamecatcat poschip timegun time
1835Kev Jeffress (Sunderland Harriers & AC)M351/1521:11:481:11:49
3824Stephen JacksonM352/1521:12:001:12:00
32235Chris CallanM3511/1521:19:101:19:12
371012Sarah Lowery (Rotherham Harriers & AC)F351/1111:19:521:19:56
60712Georgie HebdonMSEN20/1931:22:431:22:48
16332Michael AndersonMSEN42/1931:30:031:30:09
379857Fiona JonesF4012/1411:40:311:40:57
429223Ian ButlerM5520/711:42:291:42:43
541948Nick LathamM4566/1561:46:551:47:20
587193David BrowbankM3582/1521:48:261:49:05
675957Marita Le Vaul-GrimwoodF4520/1091:51:231:53:10
719601Simon GrahamM3598/1521:53:121:54:34
7471764Vaughn WilliamsM35101/1521:54:451:55:54
81385Stephanie BarlowF4527/1091:57:261:57:53
8791017Stephen LumsdonM45120/1561:57:521:59:46
9671400Jill RudkinF4050/1412:01:152:02:57
11071621Mark TodmanM35134/1522:07:182:09:37
14421566Julie SwinbankF35100/1112:33:492:35:00

Ardbeg Islay Half Marathon, Islay, Scotland, Saturday, July 28, 2018

Mark Payne

Courtesy of Gavin Campbell

The Island of Islay is best known for its distilleries, which draw in whisky connoisseurs from all over the world. Since the mid-1980s it has also had the Islay half marathon, which judging from the results list, has its own hardcore of international fans. When it was suggested to me and my partner Becca, earlier in the year, that we might like to do this race my first thought was yes, but that’s a big journey from Durham for the weekend. If you face West from Glasgow you’re looking towards Islay but the Firth of Clyde, the Isle of Bute, the Kintyre peninsula and a bit of the Atlantic ocean are all between you and it. It was then pointed out that instead of driving 100 miles around, you can do it in a succession of ferry hops, with short distances in between that you could easily cover on a bike. Having done a fair amount of cycling in Scotland we knew that there is a “five ferries” ride that the keen complete from the mainland in a day, taking in Arran, Kintyre, Cowal and Bute. The first couple of hops towards Islay cover the start of it. This had the makings of a good long weekend adventure. So we booked a day off work, and the evening of Thursday 26th saw us in Ardrossan with bikes ready for the first ferry onto Arran the next day.

The Friday before the race was spent riding around the East side of Arran, then a short ferry crossing to the Kintyre peninsula and across to the other side before the longer ferry to Islay. Despite a surprise hill climb at Boguille in Arran (it’s a surprise if you don’t bother to wonder about the hills before you set off), this was all pretty relaxed, and we didn’t need to worry about tiring ourselves out for the race. Once on Islay itself, we were immediately in distillery country, passing a couple of famous names on the way to our overnight stay near the start in Bowmore. We didn’t stop at the distilleries, but we knew the next day’s race was sponsored by Ardbeg, so it seemed likely that a dram might be on the cards at some point.

On race day we gathered some tips on the course from our B&B host then rode the couple of miles to the start. The course is a loop that heads steeply up out of Bowmore, turns South towards Port Ellen ascending along higher ground, before dropping steeply and returning along part of the “Low Road”, a dead straight of which any ancient Roman engineer would be proud.

Although Islay has some mountainous terrain it’s on the East side of the island, so the ascent only totals about 130 m. This race has the potential to be fast, something that I had in mind as the date approached. Although we’d done a few races of half marathon distance over the last few years, none of them had had the speed potential of this one. I’d done the Durham 10k the week before, and I couldn’t say I was obviously on top form, however, it didn’t seem inconceivable that I could beat my 2007 half marathon best of just over 1hr 37. My rough plan was to aim for that pace and adjust depending on how I was feeling.

The start of the race had the friendly low-key feel that makes you appreciate seeking out these smaller events. We hadn’t left too much time for warming up, so a quick jog up and down the street and it was time to start. With a field of 124 runners, it was a novelty to be on a start line with some elbow room. This also meant that those who wanted to set off quickly could easily do so, and I quickly found myself getting pulled along a bit faster than was ideal, snaking through a few side streets, past Bowmore’s distinctive round church and out into the open countryside.

Checking my watch after the road levelled out I saw I’d done the first and steepest mile faster than my target pace but it didn’t feel too bad, and so attempted to stick with the people around me. The pace had settled down a bit, and I had the chance to look around and appreciate the view across to the mountains in the East. Although I hadn’t especially noticed the rain at the start it was clear that it was getting wet and not showing any sign of letting up. As the route descended off the first high point and turned to head south my trainers were squelching and I had the novel experience of trying to avoid the smoother bits of road, which were quite slippy in the puddles. The best that could be said for it was that after the recent heat wave it was cool! Ironically, and presumably, in response to the heat wave, I think this race had the most water stations I have ever seen. Mindful of the fact that you can’t actually drink through your skin I remembered to make use of a few of them.

The road climbed gradually until about mile 6 where we turned off towards the coast and the low road. This was a solid mile of steep downhill and I attempted to make the best of it. Turning back towards Bowmore on the level, I was disconcerted to find that my legs hadn’t taken too kindly to the downhill stomp. I was at risk of feeling sorry for myself and slowing down when I was overtaken. The race was reasonably well spread out at this stage, so this was a bit of a wake-up call and spurred me on. I also knew that the next few miles were pretty well flat and if I was going to get close to my wished-for time, this was where I’d do it. So I pushed on and stuck with the other runner who was keeping a very tidy pace.

Another runner I chatted to at the start of the race had described the low road straight as “soul destroying”. I could have seen his point if I’d been staring at a long strip of never-ending tarmac, but maybe because the misty rain was largely obscuring the view, or maybe because I was just trying to keep the pace it didn’t seem that way to me. After a while, I and my unofficial pacer acted as the wake-up call for the next runner in front, who made us a group of three for a while. This lasted until about two miles from the end of the race when the flat straight road became a slightly hilly road.

Looking at the profile after the event the final hills look insignificant but after the hard push along the flat, my legs were complaining severely. My temporary companions didn’t seem to be having the same trouble and so I had to watch them disappear off ahead. There was no way I could avoid slowing down, however, soon enough the round church was back in view and there was one final plummet down Bowmore’s main street to the finish in just under 1 hour 39.

Having collected my medal and t-shirt I saw Becca finish in a personal best time of just over 2 hours (15 seconds!). Then we retreated to the village hall to dry off and for sandwiches and the anticipated dram or, for those who really needed to rehydrate, a can of Tennents.

After an hour of recuperation, it was time to point our bikes towards the ferry. Thankfully it turns out that the muscles you need for cycling are complementary to the ones needed for running. This meant that we could make it back to Kintyre for the night, and still enjoy our ride round Cowal and Bute the next day. It’s always going to take a bit of extra effort to travel to Islay for this race, but even if you don’t cycle to get there it’s surely a good excuse to get out and explore some of the remoter parts of Southern Scotland and get a friendly, fast and scenic race into the bargain.

Keswick Half Marathon, Sunday, May 6, 2018

Tim Skelton

Over the past few years, there seems to have been an increase in the add-ons available when booking races. Tech t-shirts, medals, coasters etc…. The Keswick Half Marathon was no different (with t-shirts and slate coasters available) but a “pleasant” surprise was that they included a heatwave for free.

I thoroughly enjoyed last year’s race which I would easily describe as the most scenic and beautiful I’ve ever entered. It is very well organised with registration being held at the rugby club, 1 mile from the start at Portinscale. On paper, this sounds like a right pain but in reality, it adds to the atmosphere and enjoyment of the day. The race is limited to 1000 with some EotD.

As everyone streams along the path flanked by sheep and fields you can see everyone actively relaxing whilst they warm up. I spent the time strolling along with my wife, Jane, whilst Club shirt spotting. There seemed to be an awful lot of our usual XC enemy from the Poly. I knew this was going to be a very different affair but I had my heart set on beating as many of the red/black lot as possible.

The start was held just over Portinscale’s mini Humber Bridge. Many of the Purple Army congregated and nattered before the race with some of the Bob Graham Round support team also in attendance to wish us well on the tarmac. All of a sudden the race director seemed to be counting down from 10 and we were off…. very little warning.

The initial mile winds through the village past a lot of parked cars and supporters. It reminds me a little of the start of the cash-cow that is the Blaydon race.

After we break free from the houses the race follows a lovely road enveloped by trees. It gave us respite from the direct sunshine. My phone had said 21C as we started and it was only going to get hotter. (I hate the heat! I might mention that again later, a few times!).

We passed my friends waving in Swinside and made our way up the first horrid little hit past the adventure centre. From here until mile 10 there was no tree cover. That was it….sun sun sun. I had predicted it so hydrated a lot and covered myself in lots of sun cream.

I know this area like the back of my hand and this is one of the reasons I keep coming back and will probably do so next year. The roads are quiet for the first third of the race. Our Scottish dynamo, Allan, then overtook me at the start of THAT hill on mile 5. By then I’d realised I had totally underestimated how crap I was in the sun and gone off too quickly. I love hills….but not hills with no breeze and in this heat. I was struggling and annoyed with myself already. My head always lets me down in these situations and I knew it was going to be a very tough 8 miles from now on. At the top of the hill, there was a big animal trough with fresh water running into it from a stream….in went my head and arms to try to cool down (I hate being hot!). This provided much respite and I sped up for the next mile.

The views opened up with a stunning vista across the water. The problem now was that every walker in the NW lakes seemed to know this too and there were cars and vans parked all over.

The issue of it being an open road race didn’t really bother me last year but because of the long weekend and sun, everyone seemed to have made their way to the side of Catbells. The sun was belting down now and like a newborn baby, I was struggling to control my temperature. Suddenly I saw a mini waterfall and jumped under it…..then Penny passed. This was on 7 miles. I tried to talk myself into following her for as long as I could but I just didn’t have it in me.

The views around were simply stunning though so I just decided to take them in and plod along as best I could. Originally I had a target of 1:45hrs but this was downgraded to 1:50hrs due to the heat.

As mentioned earlier, the organisation for this race is excellent. In total there were 7 water stations (1 of which was put on last minute by a local hotel). These tables were very much needed and I dread to think what would happen if there were fewer. The smiley volunteers must have been sweltering as they greeted us with the cold water (I have no idea how they managed to keep it thus).

As I crossed the final section from Grange to Keswick I was met by someone shouting “Come on Tim, Penny is just ahead of you!!” I have no idea who it was and we all think it was just some friendly chap who had noticed the purple named vests. It did spur me on and although it wasn’t a fast 3 miles along the road to Keswick, I did manage to feel stronger than the previous year. (Being in shade did help).

The final section took us into the town centre and past all the day visitors.

One helpful local lad stood with a hosepipe squirting us all on the final few hundred yards. At this point, I slowed to run with a couple of fellow runners when I heard them say, “I cannot do this anymore. It’s too hot!”.

Unfortunately, by doing this it allowed one of the red/black enemy to pass me with only 200 yards to go. I left it until about 80 yards and left my new found friends and sprinted to overtake the Poly runner. Luckily I took him with 10 yards to go and finished in a sluggish 1:54:38 (6 mins slower than last year).

I was met by a smiling Stuart Scott some 10 hours after his successful Bob Graham Round! Gareth was also there basking in the glory (and sun) of coming second in an amazing 1:21:19.

This is what I love about the Club….regardless of our individual speeds, successes and pace, we all support each other and wear our purple with pride.

Jane finished in a very respectable 2:37hrs in her first proper race of length as an Elvet Strider, shortly after Anna, Catherine and Andrew.

I’ll be back next year. It’s too pretty a route not to….I just hope I get some drizzle next time. I’d love to think that more Elvet Striders could join us!! It’s a fantastic day out.

 

PositionAct TimeSurnameFirst nameCatSex
101.13.30Arthur
Blackburn Harriers
ChrisM
2101.32.38Rich
Steel City Striders
JenniferF
201.21.19PritchardGarethM
7101.42.12RenwickAllanV45M
14501.50.09BrowellPennyV45F
20501.54.38SkeltonTimM
24601.57.44RaynerAndrewM
33102.06.07BradleyJeanV60F
36602.08.53DaviesAndrewV40M
50602.23.06SeeleyAnnaV35F
50702.23.06SmithCatherineV40F
61302.37.05SkeltonJaneV35F
62202.40.11FarnsworthChristineV65F
67802.52.42BrownVickyV35F

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

Stephen Jackson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overall PositionBibno.Finish time Chip time Participant Category
1124001.07.1501.07.12Jamie Parkinson
THAMES HARE & HOUNDS
(M) Open Senior
72185401.19.0601.19.02Tracy Millmore
Birtley
(F) V35
1382901.12.4501.12.41Stephen Jackson(M) Open Senior
30131101.15.0501.15.01Gareth Pritchard(M) V35
6997501.18.5001.18.44Michael Littlewood(M) V40
8524201.19.4801.19.43Chris Callan(M) V35
1024001.21.2601.21.19Matthew Archer(M) V35
144133701.23.0701.23.00Phil Ray(M) V35
19475901.25.4101.25.25David Hinton(M) Open Senior
19564101.25.4301.25.38Mark Griffiths(M) V40
265162801.28.4801.28.28Emma Thompson(F) V35
2693201.28.5201.28.45Michael Anderson(M) Open Senior
433134801.35.5101.35.24Allan Renwick(M) V45
4458501.36.1501.35.49Michael Barlow(M) V40
516112101.38.2501.37.57Dan Mitchell(M) V40
59767001.41.3001.41.01Jonathan Hamill(M) V40
771184801.47.3501.46.48Katy Walton(F) V35
78239001.47.5401.46.54Andrew Davies(M) V40
79270701.48.1101.47.09Peter Hart(M) V40
800144401.48.3801.47.36Anna Seeley(F) V35
85254301.50.4001.49.39Mark Foster(M) V35
936145001.53.4801.52.46Chris Shearsmith(M) V40
101697601.56.4601.55.58Wendy Littlewood(F) V35
1070141201.58.1701.57.15Lisa Sample(F) V35
108619701.58.3901.57.37Alex Brown(M) V45
1113150001.59.4401.58.42Catherine Smith(F) V40
11688602.01.5002.01.02Stephanie Barlow(F) V40
1180124502.02.2102.00.57Joanne Patterson(F) V35
130674002.09.4702.08.02Alison Heslop(F) V45
132886202.11.3702.10.02Debbie Jones(F) V45
1330105602.11.4202.10.06Debbie Mcfarland(F) Open Senior
1333129802.11.5602.10.21James Potter(M) V35
134451102.12.4702.11.01Kirsten Fenwick(F) V35
136721202.16.2602.14.41Vicky Brown(F) V35
14509002.30.4602.29.01Kerry Barnett(F) V45
146460202.36.4702.35.01Rebecca Gilmore(F) Open Senior
1481165602.51.5402.50.12Rachel Toth(F) V40
1486TOTAL RUNNERS

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

Wendy Littlewood

January 15th, 2017 Brass Monkey marked my first attempt at the half marathon distance and at 5:45 am on the 21st October my race prep for attempt two began.
I had been delighted with my time of 2:10 in 2017, far quicker than I ever imagined. Could 2018 be quicker? Should I be dreaming of the elusive sub 2??
My 5k and 10k times had improved though according to VDOT. Not quite enough to expect this time; still floating around the high 26 for 5k and unable to get below 55 in 10k. A training plan was set to aim for 2:05. Still a decent PB.
As always, life gets in the way of sticking hard to any plan. This plan was also more daunting and regimented than the beginner’s plan I had followed last year. Simply running 10 miles was no longer enough; I had to run the miles at a set pace and the run strides at the end (these often got forgotten….).
Bearing in mind the timing of the run, committing to training throughout winter and peaking over Christmas time is tough. Certainly makes you feel like a proper runner though!! My last long run was with great company (James and Helen Potter) between Christmas and New Year. There was no snow on the ground when we set out on the lines from Broompark. On our return, the whole place looked like Narnia!
As training progressed, my pacing was actually a little faster than expected although my 5k pace was still not improving. Being honest, I was probably shying away from an all-out parkrun – I just wasn’t feeling brave enough for that test. If I failed, in my mind, the sub 2 would definitely be out of the question.
Disaster struck the first week of January – cold/flu. I felt completely wiped out. Nerves really, really set in. Of course, in retrospect, this was perfect timing – enforced tapering! Michael insisted that I would still do sub 2, in my mind, I was focussing on getting around and anything better than last year would be a win.
The cold got better just in time however on the morning of the run, I was still resigned to managing consistent 9:30 min/mile pace, still a PB after all.
Then I met up with Greta and Karen Jones (formerly of this parish). Karen had promised me that she would pace me around for sub 2 as this was not going to be a target race for them. I was aware of their pacing abilities, the first time I ever met them was mid parkrun when they told me they were pacing me for a PB because Michael had told them I was aiming for one that day!!
I got my excuses in and tried to dissuade them from accompanying but they just wouldn’t be shaken off and guided me to the 1:45 – 2:00 area near the start. The conditions were perfect, no wind, no rain or snow, no ice and a positively balmy 4c.
Brass Monkey is a flat, out and back route. Two extremely small hills on the way out that then feel like mountains on the way back! Big enough to have great facilities at the racecourse and small enough to be fun and chatty. As with many runs, the marshals are members of the local running club and extremely supportive and friendly.
The first 3 miles glided by. We were running at a nice chatty (albeit slightly breathless) pace. It felt so comfortable that Greta had to remind me to slow down a little (don’t set off too fast!!). How on earth was I running at 8:45 pace???? Target for sub 2 was 9:08….. Surely I would blow up sometime soon.
We maintained this pace up to 6 miles and I was still feeling comfortable. 10k 54:13??? Surely this had to end soon?? Miles 7-9 started feeling tougher however we still maintained the pace. Sub 2 was back on the agenda with a bang!!!
I knew that mile 10 onwards is when you truly prove your grit and this race was absolutely no different. No matter how many times you tell yourself ‘its only a parkrun’ its always the toughest part of the run. To stop getting completely defeatist and out of control, we did a couple of short walking breaks. Our pacing had been so consistent earlier that we had the time to do this and still hit target.
Mile 10 was the slowest yet at 9:13 – I love the way looking back at pacing always tells the story of the run. Mile 11 was quicker again at 8:49 but then mile 12 hit back at 9:22. I was hurting and so very tired. I desperately wanted to see Michael and the boys.
We turned a corner and could see the Racecourse – Greta kept me concentrating on how proud my boys would be of me…. I was desperately trying to keep the tears at bay.
As we came off the road and into the racecourse, there was no Littlewoods in sight – had they seriously forgotten me?? I should not have worried – just ahead a sea of purple and the most tremendous roar!!! The Strider army were there with bells on!!
With the finish line just metres ahead, Greta grabbed my hand and we sprinted across the line. I have never felt so emotional and tremendous!!
I know I surprised a few people that day, Lewis was certainly caught unawares. He thought he would see me at around 1:59:59 so he had to have quick reactions to run beside the course alongside me to see me finish at 1:55:58!!
15 minute PB.
Brass Monkey has taught me a few things this year:
I can be quicker than I think.
Just because I didn’t do the strides at the end of the long run in week 5 and 6 of the plan doesn’t mean that I can’t hit the target.
Getting up at 5:30 to enter this race is a small price to pay for such a fantastic experience: it is completely worthwhile.
I have the best running pals in the world. Runners are amongst the kindest, most altruistic people. My target for 2018 is to pay this forward

Overall PositionBibno.Finish time Chip time Participant Category
1124001.07.1501.07.12Jamie Parkinson
THAMES HARE & HOUNDS
(M) Open Senior
72185401.19.0601.19.02Tracy Millmore
Birtley
(F) V35
1382901.12.4501.12.41Stephen Jackson(M) Open Senior
30131101.15.0501.15.01Gareth Pritchard(M) V35
6997501.18.5001.18.44Michael Littlewood(M) V40
8524201.19.4801.19.43Chris Callan(M) V35
1024001.21.2601.21.19Matthew Archer(M) V35
144133701.23.0701.23.00Phil Ray(M) V35
19475901.25.4101.25.25David Hinton(M) Open Senior
19564101.25.4301.25.38Mark Griffiths(M) V40
265162801.28.4801.28.28Emma Thompson(F) V35
2693201.28.5201.28.45Michael Anderson(M) Open Senior
433134801.35.5101.35.24Allan Renwick(M) V45
4458501.36.1501.35.49Michael Barlow(M) V40
516112101.38.2501.37.57Dan Mitchell(M) V40
59767001.41.3001.41.01Jonathan Hamill(M) V40
771184801.47.3501.46.48Katy Walton(F) V35
78239001.47.5401.46.54Andrew Davies(M) V40
79270701.48.1101.47.09Peter Hart(M) V40
800144401.48.3801.47.36Anna Seeley(F) V35
85254301.50.4001.49.39Mark Foster(M) V35
936145001.53.4801.52.46Chris Shearsmith(M) V40
101697601.56.4601.55.58Wendy Littlewood(F) V35
1070141201.58.1701.57.15Lisa Sample(F) V35
108619701.58.3901.57.37Alex Brown(M) V45
1113150001.59.4401.58.42Catherine Smith(F) V40
11688602.01.5002.01.02Stephanie Barlow(F) V40
1180124502.02.2102.00.57Joanne Patterson(F) V35
130674002.09.4702.08.02Alison Heslop(F) V45
132886202.11.3702.10.02Debbie Jones(F) V45
1330105602.11.4202.10.06Debbie Mcfarland(F) Open Senior
1333129802.11.5602.10.21James Potter(M) V35
134451102.12.4702.11.01Kirsten Fenwick(F) V35
136721202.16.2602.14.41Vicky Brown(F) V35
14509002.30.4602.29.01Kerry Barnett(F) V45
146460202.36.4702.35.01Rebecca Gilmore(F) Open Senior
1481165602.51.5402.50.12Rachel Toth(F) V40
1486TOTAL RUNNERS

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

Joanne Patterson

Everyone who knows me knows that I don’t like distance. In fact, I’m pretty sure most of you would say that I don’t even like running. So when I found myself up at 5.40am on a Saturday in October, in a queue for a queue for a place in the 2018 Brass Monkey, I did wonder what on earth was wrong with me.

I hadn’t got along with distance in the past – I had done the Great North Run in 2016 and it hadn’t gone at all to plan. Looking back, I wasn’t ready. I thought I had trained enough, but I was vastly underprepared for the mental strength that would be required. I completed it, but I hated myself, my life, running, the world etc. etc (always the drama queen). I remember seeing my Dad at the end and just collapsing into his arms in a big snotty blubbering heap, vowing to never run another half marathon as long as I lived. I was gently persuaded to try the distance again at Brass Monkey 2017 to see if it was the distance that I didn’t like, or if it was just that particular race. I, unfortunately, picked up a chest infection in November, and couldn’t train much at all, but to be fair, I had no intention of racing it, and I knew I could complete the distance. I did; in exactly the same time that I ran the Great North Run.

Fast forward to October 2017 – fate had got me a place in Brass Monkey again. I was determined to train properly and give this a real try this time. My times had been improving over the year, gaining good PB’s over 5k and 10k – I could do this. A good friend had been giving me lots of advice and support and constantly encouraging me to have a little faith in myself, and in my training. He even convinced me to run Gibside Fruit Bowl and Loftus Poultry Run, as the hills would be good training. (Our friendship almost didn’t survive the joys of Gibside).

Due to some personal circumstances I had been struggling a little with my mental health and had been signed off work for quite a long time to try and work through them. Training for this race helped me in a way I can’t even describe. Having a goal to focus on, gave me a reason to get out of bed. But it also stood in the way sometimes and convinced me that I was kidding myself, that there was no point even trying.

In my heart, I knew I was capable of a PB, having run the previous 2 attempts in 2:23:59. I wanted to dream of sub 2 hours, but I just didn’t think there was any point. No way could I sustain the required pace over 13.1 miles and I so desperately didn’t want to be disappointed. So I admitted to myself that I would be happy with sub 2:05, which would have been a nice 18 minute PB.

I drove myself down to York instead of jumping on the Strider bus. I wanted to remain slightly incognito so that I could focus properly. A little warm up and then off to the start. I positioned myself behind the sub 2-hour section and waited with more nerves than I have ever felt.

The plan was to run 5k easier than race pace, then 10k at race pace and the final 6k with everything I had left. I was nervous that I would become too comfortable with the easy pace, and not be able to pick it up when I needed to, so the plan kind of went out of the window 1km in. I felt good. My pace was slightly faster than race pace, but it felt comfortable. I saw Allan, Lesley and Graeme and a selection of Strider children, and I actually smiled and waved – never been known. I saw Catherine around 6k and tried to keep her in my sights to keep me going, but at the second water stop, she took some kind of super gel and went off like a whippet.

So feeling good lasted a while, I was enjoying myself but trying not to get too carried away, listening to people around me chatting with their friends (and wondering how they could manage it). I started to slow down around 16k – there is something about hearing “only a parkrun to go” that just messes with my brain – it’s not comforting to know that! I was very aware that I had slowed down and tried to push a bit more, but I had nothing left. Perhaps if I had followed “the plan” I may have had something left, but alas, all I could do was my best. I had never managed to run the entire distance without stopping for a walk, so my next goal was to make sure I didn’t stop, even though a lot of runners around me seemed to be defeated by the “hills”. I was actually thrilled to see the “hills”, it was a nice change from all the flat (this is now on my ‘things-I-never-thought-I’d -say’ list) and I managed to lose a few people so I think I will thank Cross Country experience for that!

Running down into the racecourse felt amazing. I knew I was almost there. I had nearly done it – I didn’t look at my watch, I knew that I hadn’t managed a sub 2 but I had no idea by how much, but it didn’t matter now. I had run the whole way, I had mostly enjoyed it, and really soon I could stop!!! When I think about the finishing straight now, I get goosebumps. A collection of Striders were at the front and they were all I could hear – their roars of support brought out the last of what I had left and I sprinted as fast as I could to the finish, overtaking around 5 runners (Michael, Lesley, Stephen and Matt – thank you so much). My official time came through as 2:00:57. Nowhere near as far over the 2-hour mark as I had convinced myself, and a massive 23 minute PB.

But this, of course, means I will have to do it again next year….

Overall PositionBibno.Finish time Chip time Participant Category
1124001.07.1501.07.12Jamie Parkinson
THAMES HARE & HOUNDS
(M) Open Senior
72185401.19.0601.19.02Tracy Millmore
Birtley
(F) V35
1382901.12.4501.12.41Stephen Jackson(M) Open Senior
30131101.15.0501.15.01Gareth Pritchard(M) V35
6997501.18.5001.18.44Michael Littlewood(M) V40
8524201.19.4801.19.43Chris Callan(M) V35
1024001.21.2601.21.19Matthew Archer(M) V35
144133701.23.0701.23.00Phil Ray(M) V35
19475901.25.4101.25.25David Hinton(M) Open Senior
19564101.25.4301.25.38Mark Griffiths(M) V40
265162801.28.4801.28.28Emma Thompson(F) V35
2693201.28.5201.28.45Michael Anderson(M) Open Senior
433134801.35.5101.35.24Allan Renwick(M) V45
4458501.36.1501.35.49Michael Barlow(M) V40
516112101.38.2501.37.57Dan Mitchell(M) V40
59767001.41.3001.41.01Jonathan Hamill(M) V40
771184801.47.3501.46.48Katy Walton(F) V35
78239001.47.5401.46.54Andrew Davies(M) V40
79270701.48.1101.47.09Peter Hart(M) V40
800144401.48.3801.47.36Anna Seeley(F) V35
85254301.50.4001.49.39Mark Foster(M) V35
936145001.53.4801.52.46Chris Shearsmith(M) V40
101697601.56.4601.55.58Wendy Littlewood(F) V35
1070141201.58.1701.57.15Lisa Sample(F) V35
108619701.58.3901.57.37Alex Brown(M) V45
1113150001.59.4401.58.42Catherine Smith(F) V40
11688602.01.5002.01.02Stephanie Barlow(F) V40
1180124502.02.2102.00.57Joanne Patterson(F) V35
130674002.09.4702.08.02Alison Heslop(F) V45
132886202.11.3702.10.02Debbie Jones(F) V45
1330105602.11.4202.10.06Debbie Mcfarland(F) Open Senior
1333129802.11.5602.10.21James Potter(M) V35
134451102.12.4702.11.01Kirsten Fenwick(F) V35
136721202.16.2602.14.41Vicky Brown(F) V35
14509002.30.4602.29.01Kerry Barnett(F) V45
146460202.36.4702.35.01Rebecca Gilmore(F) Open Senior
1481165602.51.5402.50.12Rachel Toth(F) V40
1486TOTAL RUNNERS

Great Birmingham Run, Sunday, October 15, 2017

Half Marathon

Andrew Dunlop

This was the run in which everything went wrong. 

I’d had a great running spring, completing the Coniston 14 in March (beautiful), getting a new PB at the Sunderland half in May, and breaking my Durham park run PB twice in two months on the way. Now was my time to step up to try my first marathon. I’d never felt fitter. So, at the end of May, I put my name in for the Birmingham International Marathon, on the basis that it looked flatish. 

Training began well, building up distances, covering 25+ miles for five weeks running. Then after doing too much in a short space of time (Willow Miner followed by a 14.5-mile training run 36 hours later) injury struck. A trip to the physio revealed it wasn’t serious, but I needed some time off running, with strengthening exercises for my knee. That time amounted to be about six weeks. Fitness gone! Bad luck number 1. 

Towards the end of August, my injury was slowly improving and I was out running short distances on the flat again when I received an email from the marathon team. The essence of it (although in a different language) was this: ‘26.2 miles is a long way. Are you sure you haven’t made a big mistake?’ The email offered the chance to switch down to the Great Birmingham Run half marathon on the same day. This was good as getting fit for the marathon was not going to happen in the time I had whereas a half might have been achievable. So that was that.

Fast forward to the week of the race. I’d built up my distances although training was nowhere near what I would have liked. I’d completed a 18km training run two weeks earlier, maintaining a reasonable pace of just over 10 minutes per mile. It seemed likely that I would get around, even if my PB was not under threat. However, a bad cold struck. A sore throat, no voice, nasty cough, the works. I hadn’t had a cold like this for ages. Bad luck number 2. Still, the hotel was booked and we’d arranged to see friends on Saturday, so we travelled. The morning of the run, I’d not slept well from coughing. Should I run? A bit of googling indicated that, as symptoms were above the neck, it would be safe to run. I wasn’t sure I wanted to but went ahead. 

Error number 1. I’d run six previous half marathons; they’d all been in the morning. I knew what to eat beforehand: carb load on the night before, decent (not massive) breakfast on the morning of. This half marathon was going off just after lunchtime (as the marathon was going off in the morning). I had a reasonable breakfast but didn’t have any lunch. Rookie mistake. 

On the start line, I realised that the only reason I was there was that I’d paid for it. I didn’t feel like running and wasn’t confident about how my cold would hold up. (I’d forgotten about my knee, which actually didn’t trouble me all the way around). Still, there I was in the start pen and I wasn’t going to pull out now. Off we went. 

First 5k went well. I set off at a steady pace, 10:30 minutes per miles, not rushing, and felt okay. We wound our way around the warehouses and Pentecostal churches of Birmingham, through some residential streets, through Cannon Hill Park, and around Edgbaston Cricket ground. I passed Dumbledore and noticed that the marathon running Ghostbusters had ditched their car in the park. Then we turned onto the A411 Pershore Road, which I will refer to as the longest street in the world. The crowd of runners stretched off in a straight line in the distance with no turns or end in sight. At about 7k, I ran out of energy and noticeably slowed 11 minutes per mile. Should’ve had lunch. I start cheering on the slower marathon runners coming in the other direction to take my mind off things. I spot a hill coming up for the returning runners (at about 9 miles) and give myself permission to walk up it when I get there. Hard work, but this section had good support, with musicians and homeowners out making noise, with some handing out sweets. 

Eventually, we get to the turning point, just over halfway, turning up into Bourneville. No chocolate on offer. The gradual incline topped out and I enjoyed a stretch of downhill, still feeling exhausted (12 mins per mile). Back onto Pershore Road running in the other direction. This road is not any shorter coming in the Saturday direction. At least we were heading home. Brief respite walking up the hill at 9 miles followed by more jogging (12.30 mins per mile). At 18km I give up and walk for a bit. It feels good. I tell myself I’ll run the last 2km, so I start running again at 19k. I must look knackered, as suddenly most of the crowd are calling me by name and shouting encouraging things “Not far to go, you’re doing REALLY WELL!” I appreciated their support even if they were lying! I don’t manage to run the last 2k; it is stop-start from there. 

Back past the Bullring and my family should be around somewhere. I have to be running when my kids see me, but it hurts (not the injury, thank goodness, but everything else). Two hundred metres from the end, I see them. They give me a boost, and I’m delighted to cross the line. Thank goodness that is over. It’s my slowest half by a long way (2:37), but at least it’s done. And thanks to Wagamama for offering all runners a free post-run meal! 

On the plus side: First (only) Strider Home!

 

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