Category Archives: non standard distance

29th Allendale Challenge, Allendale near Hexham, Saturday, April 7, 2018

26 miles

Penny Browell

I first heard about this race a few years ago when Mike Hughes told me he’d done a race which involved running over mounds of mud which were taller than him. I couldn’t quite envisage what he meant and whilst intrigued I didn’t really want to experience it myself at the time I was more interested in trying to get PB’s in road races rather than wading through mud for hours.

Fast forward a couple of years and I will do pretty much anything to avoid running on the road and am one of those slightly strange people who go out in search of mud and hills every weekend.

Having missed a couple of other long fell races I was looking through the race diary and spotted the Allendale Challenge on a weekend where I knew I was going to be child-free. What had sounded like madness now seemed like the perfect way to spend a cold April Saturday.

After a spectacularly wet and cold winter, it was clear the conditions were not going to be good. Apparently, this race is muddy even after the driest of winters. This didn’t bother me too much and I was quite cheered to see the weather forecast was kind-ish; clear in the morning and a bit of drizzle for the last couple of hours of the race. Perfect for when you’re getting a bit hot…

Geoff, John and I headed over early on Saturday morning and got there about an hour before the race started. It was a lovely morning and I imagined the walkers (who set out 2 hours before the runners) would be having a lovely time. After a quick warm-up, we were sent on our way. With gloves and two layers, I was soon quite hot.

The race starts with a reasonable amount of climb on road and then gradually you move onto track and after a few miles, you’re into the fun stuff. Geoff and I had been to and froing up until this point but once we got into the mud I seemed to lose him and also got myself to the front of the ladies’ race. I’m not sure how as I felt like I was moving backwards through the thick bog. The only way I realised I was going faster than walking pace was that I started to pass quite a few of the walkers.

It was at this point that the “drizzle” arrived. At first, it was just that and quite pleasant but it quite quickly became heavy and rather than refreshing was just making it even harder to see properly and to gauge how deep the mud was. This is one of those races where you can’t get into a rhythm – every few steps a leg will disappear deep into the mud and I had soon coated both legs from foot to thigh in thick mud. As we climbed up towards Killhope I stopped to put my waterproof on – I was starting to get really cold and the extra layer gave me a boost as I was immediately much more comfortable.

Killhope is the highest point of the race and about halfway through the 26 miles. I knew the race had more climb in the first half and was looking forward to speeding up after the hard work climbing through mud, rain and snow. The descent arrived and I did feel better – it was a stony track that went on seemingly forever. Not the most comfortable in fell shoes but a relief after the mud. After a quick checkpoint, we were back in mud though and on the way up again. And then the peat bogs…

Mike hadn’t been wrong.. I thought I knew mud but this was something else. You completely lose your sense of direction when you’re hidden amongst enormous piles of peat… so whilst some people tried to run between them I kept going over the top to try and spot the runners ahead of me. Typically I lost confidence in my route choice so did a bit of shuffling around trying to decide who I should be following. Eventually, we came through it and I was pleased to hear a few supporters and walkers telling me I was still the first female.

There was now about 8 miles to go and I’d been told that the final section was not too tough – a long slow climb (“the drag”) and then an easy-ish descent back into Allendale. I felt good. At this stage in a long race I know if I’m going to crash or not and today was a good day.

As I sped down an easy rocky descent before the drag I knew it was all for the taking – first lady and (perhaps more importantly) a victory over Geoff!

Then suddenly a rock decided it had other plans for me, in slow motion I went over one rock then my leg crashed against another and finally my head clunked hard onto a third. It was like they were all distributed carefully to cause me as much damage as possible. I was winded but thought I should be ok to carry on. The runner behind me thought differently – he told me to sit down and shouted ahead to get medical help. I told him I had to finish the race and I was fine. (I’d DNF’d my last long race and was not about to let that happen again). He said I was bleeding and should get my head looked at. I put my hand to my head and realised he was right…with a handful of blood and legs which were beginning to hurt more, it became apparent I had to do the sensible thing. I wasn’t giving up though and my new friend started to walk me up to the medical van so I could get sorted as quickly as possible.

I had a few shocked looks as I climbed up but I assured everyone I was fine. At the van, I told them repeatedly that I had to finish the race. They seemed to think my health was more important (obviously not runners) and insisted on doing various checks, cleaning all my wounds and asking me a series of questions, to most of which I replied: “I’m fine, I need to finish the race”. After several minutes a lady passed and I complained to the medical team that I’d lost my place – still I wasn’t allowed to go. A few minutes later and Geoff appeared looking a touch concerned (but not enough to stop!). Eventually, I was allowed to head off as long as I promised to stop if I felt ill and to check in with the final checkpoint. I was determined to gain back the places I’d lost and set off at a good pace up the drag. It wasn’t long before I spotted Geoff and I could tell he was using the run/walk system, which I’d read in previous reports he often found sensible for this section. I knew I could get him, so dug in and before long I passed him. Then I thought I spotted the first lady ahead of me and sped up again to try and catch her. I think this was a mistake… it turned out not to be the first lady but a man… and the burst of speed was swiftly followed by a wave of nausea. The weather was getting worse and worse with rain falling heavily and I couldn’t work out if my vision was blurred because of the head injury or because of the rainwater filling my eyes. I slowed down for the descent to the next checkpoint feeling sicker and sicker and cursing myself for thinking I could run at speed after my fall.

On arrival at the checkpoint, as promised, I was given another check over and asked whether I felt well enough to continue. I admitted I felt sick but figured with only 3.5 miles to go I had nothing to lose. So I continued, now at a walk and still in mud (so much for the easy finish to the race…). Before long Geoff passed me – he asked if I wanted him to walk/run with me but I declined, preferring to admit defeat… There is a short section along the river towards the end which I’d imagined would be quite pleasant but even that was deep in mud. I managed to build back up to a run and before long I was on the final road which would take me back to Allendale, warmth and food!

I finally got to the hall in 4 hrs 48 minutes… not quite where I wanted to be… and not the first lady but still a very happy runner.

My head wound decided the end of the race was a signal to start bleeding again so I was properly patched up and given a full MOT by the fabulous mountain rescue staff whilst Geoff (who had beaten me by 2 minutes in the end!) provided sweet tea and Jaffa cakes to get my blood sugar levels up.

Not long after, John returned and we made our way to the Golden Lion for pie and peas, the perfect way to celebrate finishing what had been a tough race for everyone, Geoff claiming that in 13 years of running the race, this had been the worst conditions yet.

If anyone has made it this far, I must say a massive thank you to the North of Tyne Mountain Rescue team both on the course and back at Allendale. We know from their incredible work looking after Rob Wishart last year that the emergency services are brilliant at what they do and they proved this again. Profits from the race go towards this fantastic resource and for that reason alone I recommend it to anyone. However, unless you’re a really big fan of mud I’d suggest choosing a slightly drier year!

Dark Skies Run at Kielder, Kielder Northumberland, Saturday, March 24, 2018

26.5 miles

Karen Wilson

Kielder Dark Skies had been on my to-do list, if I ever decided to do a marathon, the photos always looked stunning, it is such a beautiful place and to have full access to the Dark Skies was a bonus (if the weather played nice). The weeks leading up to the race I thought I may need to buy a set of waders but the weather gods looked kindly on us.

I arrived full of excitement, if not the usual pre-race nerves. Got my number, a Trial Outlaw buff (I love a buff!!), sorted my kit bag, a quick final bite to eat and went out for a wander around. Found the other Striders in time for an obligatory Striders selfie and we were off.

I tried to stick to my race plan and not to get carried away with the crowd. Had a little chat with Dougie as we dodged the mud, before looping along the reservoir and heading back up and across the start line again. It was just beautiful, running through the forest with the regular views of the reservoir.

 

I had had a problem with my foot 2 weeks before the race. Figuring it was tendonitis which I’d had in the past, I rested it and it seemed to be fine, well at least until mile 3!! Ouch. It started to hurt but I tested it and it was manageable so I carried on. A welcome downhill to the reservoir before having to turn back and go up the hill again!!

My playlist hit the spot and along with chatting to various other runners along the way, the miles ticked by. The atmosphere was fab. I was chatting with one guy, maybe around 7 pm and he commented on it still being light; we roughly stayed together for a while, when we realised it was starting to get dark. To see the stars appear almost one by one was magical and before long the sky was lit up with masses of stars. I was gutted that I couldn’t get a photo of it, but it will stay with me in my internal camera. It reminded me of the 6 am dive in the Maldives looking for Hammerhead Sharks. While waiting, the plankton was sparkling all around us and I thought then it looked like a clear night sky.

On I went, by now head torch on and I found myself alone in the forest. I confess prior to the run I had been a little nervous as to how I would feel in the forest, technically, on my own but I absolutely loved it. Kerry had said that when she’d done it, she sometimes switched her torch off and I even did this too, it was so tranquil.

What I will say, is that while I knew it would be a tough race, I had told myself I’d done a few races with big hills Hell Runner (where we were literally clawing at the bankside to get up), Hawkshead took in the Coffin Trail, Paras 10 with ridiculous hills covered in rubble and Bacchus Marathon had 2 fairly steep & long hills which we had to do twice, so the hills didn’t worry me too much. However, I was not prepared for how relentless the ups were and that they seemed to far outweigh the downs (which when they came were often steep) and I didn’t appreciate how little ‘flat’ sections there were. Boy, it was hard going!

Around mile 14 I confess I was in tears, the pain in my foot had got bad, possibly with not getting any rest from going up or down, and I did think I may have to quit at the next CP, but I was still enjoying the run and I really didn’t want to give up (helped somewhat by the paracetamol which had kicked in by the time I reached the Dam).

Taking the great advice from Kerry during our Sunday runs I went with my bronze medal plan – to cross the finish line. At the Dam I met up with a girl I’d ran with earlier in the race and after a brief loo stop and putting on my jacket as it suddenly felt cold, we headed across the dam. I walked this bit with her and once across I ‘trotted off’. She was still walking but with my run/limp speed and her brisk walking we matched each other fairly well and we opted to stay together.

At mile 19 we were still on target for a 6hr/6.15 finish and this spurred us on but after that, I don’t know what happened. Before we knew it a few people caught us and got passed us, the hills through the wood were steep and my Garmin had died so I had no idea how far we were from the next CP. I was feeling very cold and somehow I forgot to keep fuelling. We kept pushing forward and occasionally chatting about all kinds of rubbish but it kept us going, then the thing I dreaded happened…. the tail runners caught us.

We had to get to the last CP by the cut off time and their calculation was we might not make it…. I just felt sick and I know she did too, especially as she was in for the double. We pushed on and on and the lights of Leaplish were in the distance. It felt like it had been a LONG way from the Garmin dying at 22miles. We got to the CP to the marshal saying sorry ladies you’re out of time… Well I swear he must have seen our faces and quickly followed with ‘see those lights? They are the van coming down for us…. if you’re gone, you can’t be picked up’ we were like Mo & Usain as we made our way through Leaplish and I vaguely heard him say only 1.6 to go… after what we’d done that would be nothing!!

We kept going one step at a time and I have to say I was in my own little world and we were through gate after gate and then the TR said just around this corner. Pain forgotten, we pushed on and even the incline to the finish couldn’t dampen my spirits. I’m sure I grabbed her arm and dragged her with me, although I almost forgot the finish was inside the clubhouse! I have never ever been so happy to see a finish line!! I think I my eyes may have leaked!!

Before long my husband, Mum and Jonathan turned up inside. I never saw anyone waiting outside but it was a bit of whirl. We went over the road for our post-run hot meal. My running buddy was sat at a table, I stayed standing up (not convinced I’d get up if I sat down). We had a little hug before I left and she thanked me for staying with her, but it was a joint effort. She was staying over as she was doing the double. Given the time, due to being so long finishing & that the clocks were going forward, I opted to just head back. Hubby brought me a mini bottle of prosecco to celebrate my finish, which I had in the car on the way back. I won’t lie I was devastated to be in the last 2 finishers again, but with a fully functioning foot I am sure I would have at least managed my silver plan, however, I am grateful to the TR’s and the guys at the checkpoint for letting us through.

Overall, a fabulous race and I would say to anyone who fancies it do it. It is not every day you’d get to do something like this. I have discovered a love of running at night and quite like running at night on my own – who knew!

I took my trainers off in the car and my foot looked a little bruised. Still thinking it was tendonitis I wasn’t overly concerned. Got home, showered and put some ice on it and it was clearly swollen. A trip to A&E on the Sunday confirmed I had a full fracture of the 2nd metatarsal (to add insult to injury they were out of purple casts!).

So I’m hoping this is off soon, so I can get back to Club and, fingers crossed, I am fit enough to do Loch Ness in September. It has certainly scuppered my plans for the year!

Northumberland Coastal Run, Beadnell to Alnmouth, Sunday, July 23, 2017

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. Endurance Champion Race - click flag for more information. about 14 miles

Jonathan Hamill

2nd time lucky?  Last year, I settled for a rather splendid long sleeved top in lieu of my entry, and heard the tales of a splendid and scenic coastal run in the sun.  This year, the race sold out in a matter of six hours but fortunately I secured an entry again, and had my sun tan lotion at the ready.

Saturday evening saw me consider various weather forecasts, and contemplate my shoe and clothing choice.  Having packed my hydration vest, at the eleventh hour, I abandoned it and decided for the minimalistic approach of club vest (fear not, I had shorts too) and trail shoes given the inclement weather anticipated.

A Sunday morning reveille at 0600hrs (what else would any sane person do on their wedding anniversary?) saw me tiptoe around the house, and jog up to meet the Strider bus.  As I had stayed up quite late, reading old race reports of the Coastal Run and contemplating what lay ahead, I quite fancied a snooze on the bus but this notion rapidly faded, as the bus filled full of other chatty but half asleep Striders.

Team Purple
Photo courtesy of Catherine Smith

We made good progress, and parked up in Beadnell, donning waterproofs to saunter down the road to the Boat House for registration.  I always find it a challenge with my OCD to attach a bib number perfectly straight – to do this in the rain, with a fresh breeze on the upturned hull of a small boat compounded the challenge.  Event clips and bib attached, I processed along the beach toward the start area at Beadnell Bay.  There were portaloos portable toilets aplenty, and a fairly short queue leaving time to join fellow Striders to shelter and stay warm(ish), stowing bags on the baggage bus at the last moment, for the obligatory team photo on the beach.

Lined up on the start, and raring to go, I listened intently to the official at the front – I relayed his information to other runners because I thought it was wise to heed the advice, which I summarised that runners should stay between the first set of marshalls to avoid perishing on the slippy rocks.  Then we were off, across golden sands, the warmth of the sun on our backs, the breeze in our hair, amidst children building sandcastles, and enjoying ice-cream [error, that was a figment of my imagination]. Then we were off, across a sandy base of rivulets fed by the Long Nanny River, which set the scene of what would be a challenging race.  I had struck out at a pace just sub 5 min/km, which softened as I met the first constriction point of soft sand and rocks up to High Newton by the Sea.  I was amazed at this point to see a runner relieve himself against the dunes in full view of other competitors – how could he have missed the vast provision of portaloos portable toilets, and council facilities adjacent to the start?

‘Enjoying the downhill’ Photo courtesy of Camilla Lauren-Maatta

Having climbed this initial hill, I enjoyed the short fast downhill section to Low Newton and the sands at Embleton Bay.  We then negotiated the inland side of Dunstanburgh Castle, on mud, grass and rock paths, with a few slips and falls.  I halted to check one poor soul who had taken an impressive tumble, landing hard but he was fine to continue.  I passed a few runners, at this point lamenting their choice of road shoes, and wondered if Matt Archer had his racing flats on.

Next up was Craster Village, at which point we were looking a little more bedraggled, our muddy battle paint splattered up our legs, and higher!  Support was evident here, and water was provided.  The encouraging sight and sound of Michael Mason galvanised my resolve as I climbed up past the harbour past The Heughs, where there was a cheeky kink taking us along the headland to Cullernose Point.

Then a treat of a section of road past Howick, and on to Sugar Sands where the majority of runners took the bridge across Howick Burn but some hardier souls opted for the water crossing.  A short but punishing climb ensued, up a rocky path, which I decided to run passing a couple who were walking, clearly conserving their energy to pass me on the flat on the top!

Into Boulmer for the final water stop, which I needed, where supporters braved the conditions to cheer us on.  Leaving Boulmer, just prior to dropping down to Foxton Beach, a cheery chap stood beside a sign which advised ‘about 2 miles to go’.  He shouted encouragingly, that it we were nearly upon the beach and only 10 minutes to go.  I looked at my watch briefly, trying to calculate what this meant but gave up as ‘nearly 2 miles’ was too imprecise a measure for me, a detailed metric man.

Photo courtesy of Phil Owen

This beach seemed never-ending, and I remember thinking about the meaning of this approximate 2-mile sign.  I tried in places to pick up my pace, mainly because I thought if I did the race would be over quicker but there were slippy rocks, and dilapidated fences (really!) to cross.  On one particular fence, my ability to hurdle non-existent, my right hamstring cramped as I ungraciously ‘hopped’ over it.  I recovered to catch the magnificent sight of a blue inflatable finish arch.

The arch got closer, and I tried to pick up pace, hastened by Jon Ayres who was doing a sterling job as a bare-chested Mr Motivator having already finished.  Attempting to follow Jon’s advice of lengthening my stride, I managed to briefly return to that sub 5 min/km pace again, prior to what felt like sinking to my knees in the softer sand near the finishing arch.  Through the finish, I immediately felt that sense of accomplishment which makes it all seem worthwhile; and a quick check of my watch confirmed a pleasing sub 2-hour time (subsequently 1:55:31 chip time).

I grabbed some water, and headed over to provide some encouragement to my fellow Striders.  Jon congratulated me, and I quipped that that last beach was like a club committee meeting in length!  Then via the baggage bus, to the Strider bus, which now resembled something of an impromptu changing room.  I was grateful at this point for Lesley’s advice to take a change of footwear, and in equal measure for her encouragement to attend this race.  Prize giving was in the nearby Alnmouth Links Golf Club, which provided an opportunity to dry out, and celebrate the team achievement.  It was great to see Stephen Jackson pick up a prize for 5th place, a valiant effort indeed after his Durham City Run win of only a few night’s previous, and to see other age category winners; Tamsin Imber for 1st FVET40, Christine Farnsworth for 2nd FVET65 and Margaret Thompson for 3rd FVET65.

The organisation of this race by Alnwick Harriers is first rate.  Marshals and locals alike are friendly, and supportive.  The coastline and scenic aspect is fantastic, and where else can you run ~14 miles through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on a mixture of sand, road and trail?  In summary, I’d encourage anyone to have a go at this race – I’d certainly like to do it again, but hopefully next time on a drier, more summery day!

You can relive the Northumberland Coastal Run here

Full results available here

 

Results
Bibno.Participant Finish time CategorySpeedPace
630Stephen Jackson01:17:41MSEN10.81 mph5:32 min/mile
936Gareth Pritchard01:20:19MSEN10.46 mph5:44 min/mile
121Matthew Archer01:31:36MSEN9.17 mph6:32 min/mile
949Phil Ray01:31:54MSEN9.14 mph6:33 min/mile
595Andrew Hopkins01:33:33MV408.98 mph6:40 min/mile
618Tamsin Imber01:42:29FV408.20 mph7:19 min/mile
185Elaine Bisson01:45:23FV357.97 mph7:31 min/mile
1110Malcolm Sygrove01:51:57MV507.50 mph7:59 min/mile
526Jonathan Hamill01:55:31MV407.27 mph8:15 min/mile
872Dougie Nisbet02:03:08MV506.82 mph8:47 min/mile
661Fiona Jones02:03:21FV406.81 mph8:48 min/mile
898Helen Parker02:03:55FV406.78 mph8:51 min/mile
204Jean Bradley02:04:00FV606.77 mph8:51 min/mile
777Rachelle Mason02:04:55FV356.72 mph8:55 min/mile
462Sue Gardham02:05:35FV406.69 mph8:58 min/mile
1024Chris Shearsmith02:06:35MV406.64 mph9:02 min/mile
1109Kathryn Sygrove02:06:47FV506.63 mph9:03 min/mile
605Melanie Hudson02:07:18FV356.60 mph9:05 min/mile
984Dave Robson02:07:19MV656.60 mph9:05 min/mile
744Emil Maatta02:07:32MSEN6.59 mph9:06 min/mile
247Karen Byng02:07:54FV456.57 mph9:08 min/mile
1016Anna Seeley02:08:14FSEN6.55 mph9:09 min/mile
223David Browbank02:08:39MSEN6.53 mph9:11 min/mile
1047Catherine Smith02:12:17FV406.35 mph9:26 min/mile
429Sarah Fawcett02:14:00FV556.27 mph9:34 min/mile
283Jonathan Clark02:18:44MV406.05 mph9:54 min/mile
576Alison Heslop02:21:36FV455.93 mph10:06 min/mile
394Katherine Dodd02:24:12FV455.83 mph10:18 min/mile
1127Helen Thomas02:24:32FV405.81 mph10:19 min/mile
825Karen Metters02:24:32FV405.81 mph10:19 min/mile
1255Jill Young02:25:59FSEN5.75 mph10:25 min/mile
407Jane Dowsett02:26:00FV455.75 mph10:25 min/mile
933Katherine Preston02:26:00FV455.75 mph10:25 min/mile
929Alison Pragnell02:26:11FV355.75 mph10:26 min/mile
1044Alan Smith02:26:14MV705.74 mph10:26 min/mile
341Beth Cullen02:26:24FV355.74 mph10:27 min/mile
902Joanne Patterson02:34:07FSEN5.45 mph11:00 min/mile
1011Aileen Campbell Scott02:34:12FV455.45 mph11:00 min/mile
1232Karen Wilson02:37:11FV455.34 mph11:13 min/mile
427Christine Farnsworth02:40:12FV655.24 mph11:26 min/mile
144Kerry Barnett02:43:07FV455.15 mph11:39 min/mile
434Kirsten Fenwick02:46:43FSEN5.04 mph11:54 min/mile
1067Diane Soulsby02:46:45FV505.04 mph11:54 min/mile
473Rebecca Gilmore02:47:47FSEN5.01 mph11:59 min/mile
1136Margaret Thompson02:59:17FV654.69 mph12:48 min/mile
468Laura Gibson03:11:14FV404.39 mph13:39 min/mile

Dales Trail Series DT30km, Muker, Upper Swaledale, Saturday, July 15, 2017

30km

Elaine Bisson

Photo courtesy of Foxglove photography

This is in the series of my A races this year and is my favourite of the three. Just under 20miles following trails, bridleways and bog! It starts in a field next to the River Swale in Muker following the river along past Keld before it really starts to climb through Stonesdale Moor (where the bog really wobbles) up to the Tan Hill. From here it drops back down to Keld along the Pennine way before it climbs again to the second summit just above Swinners Gill (aka Runners Hell). From here there is a fast runnable section down to the hay fields of Muker before you go through the gates of hell (about ten of them) which are absolute torture after the long descent, you only build up enough speed until you have to stop to open another gate and if you’re being chased the bang of the gates sounds like a death knell!

I travelled down with Jon and a car full (no really) a car full of soup…enough to feed the three hundred runners. We were both in poor spirits and it took a while before we started our usual joking. We register in the barn, chat to marshals and runners (many of whom have done previous series.) From here there is about a mile walk to the start. I’ve given up slightly, poor prep…I’d spent the last week recovering from supporting on Scotts BGR and struggling with tiredness. I recognise some speedy ladies and realise I’m well off the prizes today. But then there is always the second lady in Grand Slam who is giving me daggers!
Photo courtesy of Foxglove photography

For the first three miles said 2nd GS lady sits right on my shoulder until I give up and let her past. My heart sinks while I watch her disappear into the distance but it’s not long until I realise I’m gaining ground again and when we hit the climb up to the Tan Hill I pull up and away from her.  By now I’m running again with Jon. Glad of the company and the funny chat. Also glad to have someone to give me a bit of a nudge…which I really needed. When we hit the road (only 400m worth) we can both barely be bothered to run. I remember saying come on its flat, it’s tarmac and we up the pace. I know this should be where we can gain some places on the descent down to Keld but the wind is right against us and visibility is poor and underfoot is splodgy.

Photo courtesy of Foxglove photography

We eventually pick up speed down a lovely sheltered track and hit the turn up to Swinners Gill. I feel a bit queasy by now, it really was a bad race day! Anyway I’m looking forward to Swinners Gill. The climb isn’t too long and it’s a bit technical which I’ve come to like. It’s not long before we reach the last gravel trail and a fastish descent back to the meadows of Muker. I’ve tricked myself to believe there are 12 gates to pass through, so when the countdown is still going and we reach the final little hill before the finish we are both over the moon.

I’m 3 minutes slower than last year and 4th lady but all things considered it wasn’t too bad a run…I do know I’m  capable of much better with better prep so I’ve a feeling I will return to this. We wander back to race HQ to collect our t-shirts and go separate ways. The lovely campsite showers await and I spend a while scrubbing off mud and enjoying the clean warm water. Then it’s back to the barns to enjoy the soup, cakes and tea and welcome in other runners.

I wasn’t sure whether to log a race report, it certainly wasn’t my best race but it remains one of my favourite trail races. I had a great time despite feeling a bit rotten and it goes to show what a difference good company can make…and of course running somewhere you love. I have also retained my number one spot in the Grand Slam and have gained quite a lead on the second lady. I now look forward to the final of the three. There is work to be done and certainly good tapering but I’m determined to do it right!

Red Kite Trail Race, Dipton, Stanley, Sunday, July 9, 2017

8 miles

Joanne Patterson

July would be the month I would take part in 5 races – clearly I was very keen at the start of the year, and signed up for most things that I missed last year due to getting into running just that bit too late forthe popular races.

4th of July saw me take part in my first Bridges of the Tyne – I was really looking forward to this race – it was only 5 miles, mostly flat, I had been running quite well I thought – this could be my race. But apparently, attempting to race on a school dinner and a packet of hula hoops isn’t advisable. I struggled from the first mile, both physically and mentally. I finished the race feeling disappointed in myself and completely disillusioned with running.

This is when being part of a close-knit club comes in very useful. I had some great advice and caring words from my fellow clubmates (namely, Mark, Vics, Matt , Tim & Catherine).

  • You put too much pressure on yourself
  • Pick one of your races that you want to do well in, and focus on that. Use other races as training runs
  • You need to make running fun again, and not about PBs and beating yourself
  • Mix it up – try not to focus on times for a bit

I took this all on board when I decided I would still take part in the Red Kite Trail run on 9th July. This was 8 miles of trail – basically four miles downhill and then four back up. I was never going to be very good at this race, but before Tuesday, a silly part of me would beat myself up massively, regardless of the result. Taking all this advice on board, I decided I would run my own race – not worry about competing with anybody, not caring if I was last Strider home. Taking it back to how it used to be, and trying to enjoy running instead of turning it into something negative.

I arrived at the Community Centre in Dipton (practically next door to my daughter’s nursery school) and immediately found some Strider friends, who all seemed to be in the same frame of mind. We had the usual photo opportunities, then out to the front for the start.

Running on Tarmac in Trail shoes is a bizarre feeling on your feet, but before I knew it we were off road. Down some glorious grassy hills into the middle of the countryside. The sun was shining, I had a pretty awesome playlist on my phone and things felt good. Up until mile 3, I had to stop like a million times to climb over stiles (possibly exaggerated), this would normally have frustrated me as it would ruin my splits – but today, i was thankful for the stop, trying to take it all in. Chatting with fellow runners and thanking marshalls. There were a few ropey ankle situations, which reminded me of cross country, and I saw an injured Mr Bisson hobbling back to the start (it doesn’t matter how many times he reminds me of his name, I always want to call him Mr Bisson – i guess that’s what happens when you are married to a club celeb like First Lady Bisson). Throw in a refreshing stream crossing (i can confirm going straight through is more advisable than trying to cross the rocks – is that right Anna??) and before I knew it, I was at the halfway point.

I had seen the elevation profile prior to the race, so I knew what I had ahead of me. I stopped at the water station (something I would never normally do), drank some water and inspected the massive blister forming on my big toe. This running thing is so glam. Off i went again, expecting the next 4 miles to literally be a sheer vertical climb. Happily it wasn’t quite as bad as that – some running through fields, into the woods and straight into a massive muddy bog. At some points in this run, there was nobody behind me, and nobody in front of me – it was almost like somebody had just marked out a nice Sunday route for me. I tried to catch up with a runner in front, as I felt more comfortable with somebody in front, so that I could follow them and not end up lost!

So the elevation profile was true to its word – the hills made cross country hills seem like nothing. I was comforted to see everyone walking the hills – this had been my plan. I got talking to some lovely ladies from Morpeth Harriers, and we encouraged each other to run the flats and downhills, then catch each other on the next uphill. Up to the top of the last hill, and i saw the place i get my nails done, so i knew where i was. I blasted the last little bit to the finish line, mouthing “Jesus Christ” to Catherine and Anna who were waiting at the finish line for me. Hugs from the Morpeth ladies reminded me what a great sporting community I am part of.

Considering I am from the area, these were trails I never knew existed. The sights and smells and a renewed view of what running means to me made this a great run. Thank you so much to my ever suffering team mates for helping to get me here. I’m not saying that I can treat every race like this, but, for now you have helped me more than you realise.

The Coniston 14 2017, Coniston, Lake District, Saturday, March 25, 2017

14 miles

Pam Kirkup

This was the first ‘real’ race that I have done for 18 months – however the word ‘race’ was hardly applicable to me in the circumstances. So I decided to consider it a leisurely, weekend long run in the sunshine. No pressure then! Leisurely? You must be joking!

I arrived at the start area and met Michael Littlewood who was looking sharp and focussed.  I had a pre-race chat with Andrew and Alan … and then we were off! That was the last I saw of them that day.

By the time I reached Torver – a 3 mile uphill slog to the first watering station – I had found my level. Towards the back of the field with the joggers, fun runners and ‘power walkers’. I was feeling alright at Torver so decided I wouldn’t need to call for a taxi back (!) and continued – on a really pleasant downhill part of the course towards the half-way turning point. I must say I met some very nice people to run along with and there was some great ‘craic’!

As we turned to run down the East side of the Lake a marshal helpfully told us that we would have some lovely views of the snow-clad mountains and Lake Coniston itself. This prompted some of my fellow runners to assemble for group selfies with a mountain background and random cyclists were flagged down to take pictures.

Anyway we struggled on in the, by now, increasing heat … and exhaustion. The second half of the course is deceptively challenging with some pretty relentless climbs. My particular ‘favourites’ are the series of hills near the Thurston outdoor centre. Horrible! John Ruskin’s house, Brantwood, some 2.5 miles before the finish, is the point where ‘killer cramp’ has kicked in for me in the past. Not so this year. Luckily I had drunk 2 litres of water with those Zero electrolyte & magnesium tablets that morning which I think made a difference. Never the less I was still physically drained. I got to the Head of the Lake where Paul F was waiting with another drink and some encouragement. I can’t remember what he said!

I finally got to the finish in 03.04.16 – chip time. Just the 22 minutes slower than my last personal worst which, in itself, was 20 minutes slower than the previous one! Michael would have had time for a shower and to down 6 pints by that time. Huge congratulations to both him and Elaine for fantastic running.

And yet somehow I was strangely elated. I had finished unscathed before nightfall without falling or being pushed over so no black eye on this outing. The finishing time was dreadful but I could not have expected anything decent considering the amount of training I had been able to do since Christmas. I didn’t have the endurance or stamina to meet the challenge of such a course. But it’s certainly something to build on.

It’s still my favourite race and yes, I will be back next year.

The Start

Michael Littlewood – 10th Man Prize!

Race No First Name Family Name Gender Gender Pos Cat Cat Pos Club Gun Time Overall Pos Chip Time Chip Pos
1271 Robbie Simpson Male 1 MOPEN 1 DEESIDE RUNNERS 01:16:37 1 01:16:37 1
1124 Michael Littlewood Male 10 M40+ 2 ELVET STRIDERS 01:25:31 10 01:25:28 10
183 Elaine Bisson Female 8 F35+ 4 ELVET STRIDERS 01:37:48 86 01:37:45 86
1371 Jean Bradley Female 110 F60+ 1 ELVET STRIDERS 02:02:26 488 02:01:53 504
261 Alan Smith Male 557 M70+ 9 ELVET STRIDERS 02:18:19 785 02:16:41 775
1226 Andrew Dunlop Male 641 M40+ 119 ELVET STRIDERS 02:29:04 943 02:27:26 939
420 Pam Kirkup Female 448 F65+ 10 ELVET STRIDERS 03:05:55 1147 03:04:16 1144

Airport run – LHR T5, London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5, Tuesday, March 14, 2017

~5.7km

Jonathan Hamill

For some time, I have been interested in what some may see as a slightly unusual run; inside London Heathrow airport Terminal 5.  My motivation comes from spending way too much time in airports, and Ben Edelman, an associate professor at the Harvard Business School, and author of guidance for running in and around airports.

 

On the morning of 14th March, I had my chance.  I arrived in Heathrow’s Terminal 5A, from Newcastle.  My next flight (to Madrid) was also due to leave from Terminal 5, so having already cleared security at Newcastle, I headed to BA’s North Galleries lounge.  Perhaps fortunately for this adventure, I still have lounge access – there are changing facilities, you can leave your bag and, instead of a pre-flight G&T.…go for a run!

 

I struggled to get a GPS signal initially but the Strava app on my iPhone seemed to cope with a combination of GPS, cellular, and Wifi positioning. I headed down the escalator to follow the signs for the transit to the B and C gates. There I took the lift down to level -4, leaving most passengers to alight at -2 which is the train platform.

The main feature of this run is an underground pedestrian tunnel linking Heathrow’s Terminal 5A to the satellite buildings which house the B and C gates.  The tunnel is some 670m in length between T5A and T5C, according to Bombardier who supplied the automated people mover system (trains which run above the pedestrian tunnel).

 

The tunnel has apparently been recently renovated to add a softer floor, and purple lighting – welcoming to a travelling Strider!  There are various moving walkways along the way, but also space aplenty to run.  There are a couple of narrower sections, which makes life slightly interesting to share the tunnel with a passing passenger cart, and there is a slight incline between the B and C gate section.
There aren’t many users of the tunnel – mainly air crew, the odd passenger, and it is fairly cool. At the final approach to the C gates, a traffic light controlled door allows safe passage of pedestrians and carts.

 

I headed along the tunnel, to pass the B gates, then on to the C gates, where I got in the lift and up to the satellite building. I ran around the satellite building, which was nearly empty. A member of BA gate staff stopped me to ask what flight I was on, and she was tickled when I explained, “Madrid, but I’m just out for a run first”!

 

I ran the loop from T5A to T5C, including the loop of T5C satellite building twice, before doing a 1km loop of T5A, returning to the North lounge to shower and collect my things.  An interesting experience of some 5.7km which left me refreshed for my onward flight!  If you have time in Heathrow, try it!

Dentdale Run, Dent, Cumbria, Saturday, March 11, 2017

14.2 miles

David Browbank

Grand Prix Race. Endurance Champion Race.

Having previously only run one half marathon (the GNR) before this year I had decided that I was going to enter more longer races for 2017and having seen that the Dentdale race was on the GP list and was relatively cheap I entered with the thought of using this as a good training run and to go and just enjoy the scenery. Also the fact that the proceeds of the race went to the local school swayed my decision to enter. Having car shared with fellow striders Vicky Brown and Lesley Charman we arrived in Dent a good hour before the race so decided to have a coffee and a scone in the local visitor’s centre/museum. We sat opposite the rather eerie looking life-size model of a Victorian lady whilst we enjoyed our food and drinks and I must say that I was intrigued by the artefacts in the visitor’s centre which did take my mind off those hills for a time.

We made our way to the start line and a few fellow striders were already there. I had decided that I would try and run with Peter Hart And Fiona wood as they too were going to run this as a training day race however upon the start I lost sight of them both and started the race alongside Vicky. The race started on a gentle down-hill and proceeded to wind out of the village and into the countryside. The weather was pleasant and I started to feel my rhythm so continued to run alongside Vicky. On the 2 mile point we reached a rather sharp hill which tested the legs somewhat. Once up this first hill I still felt good and continued to go at a steady pace, glancing to the side and still seeing that Vicky was still going strong beside me. Between miles 4-5 I got separated from Vicky on a decent and was starting to feel in a good rhythm with various songs popping into my mind as I was plodding along. Jan Young, who was running the shorter race (still 7.9miles), went striding past me on mile 5 giving words of encouragement as she went by. I decided to keep Jan in my sights till the cut- off point for the short race which kept me focused on my now race strategy of 8min/miles downhill and 10min/miles on the uphill sections. I got back to Dent and saw Jan peel off to the right to finish her race whilst the route crept round to the left and started on a gradual uphill section. A lady in a green vest was my next point of focus and I kept my mind on her, gradually closing her down on mile 9 and overtaking. At this point Nina Mason caught up and we exchanged a few pleasantries with me pointing out that the local disco had put up various flyers along the route. This had amused me somewhat, possibly it was the fact I was starting to tire and needed to think of other things rather than the now slog up to the highest part of the course. Having pulled away from Nina just before the turn I decided that my mind was wandering and needed a new focus, the runner in the light purple vest was my next target and I slowly started to reel her in between miles 10-12. At this point I realised that I was on for my HM PB if I kept the pace going. Having never ran a sub 2hr HM before I was determined not to slow down. I passed the lady I the purple vest on mile 13 and was now feeling the pain but continued at my current pace of just below 9min/mile. Just after the HM point I started to relax and saw that Nina had again caught me up. We turned a slight bend and came face to face with a little stinker of a hill which we both decided that we had to walk up. Encouraged further on by Jan, who had now finished her race and was cheering on the striders I got back to my routine pace and headed for the finish only to feel a sharp pain in my left calf literally 100yards from the line. My sprint finish was now out of the question but I still crossed the line in 2hr 7mins 29secs which I was really pleased with. On checking my watch I’d also got my HM PB of 1hr 57mins which I was delighted about. Once changed we all met in the school for sandwiches cake and coffee with was put on by the event organisers.

Overall a thoroughly enjoyable day and one I will definitely be back to.

Position Bib Name Club Time (chip) Time (gun) Category Category position
8 267 Gareth Pritchard Elvet Striders 1:26:59 1:27:00 MSEN 4/57
204 288 Anna Seeley Elvet Striders 2:00:05 2:00:16 FSEN 5/20
238 82 ANDREW DAVIES Elvet Striders 2:03:37 2:04:08 M40 75/98
245 53 Lesley Charman Elvet Striders 2:04:37 2:04:48 M40 77/98
261 223 Nina Mason Elvet Striders 2:06:31 2:07:17 F35 22/46
264 36 David Browbank Elvet Striders 2:07:29 2:07:47 MSEN 52/57
309 42 Vicky Brown Elvet Striders 2:13:55 2:14:12 F35 27/46
315 297 Catherine Smith Elvet Striders 2:14:52 2:15:04 F35 29/46
348 304 Ian Spencer Elvet Striders 2:20:34 2:21:06 M50 73/81
387 360 Fiona Wood Elvet Striders 2:31:39 2:32:24 F35 41/46
388 156 Peter Hart Elvet Striders 2:31:39 2:32:25 M40 96/98
399 106 Christine Farnsworth Elvet Striders 2:37:19 2:37:50 F65+ 2/2
414 19 Kerry Barnett Elvet Striders 2:44:04 2:44:51 F45 60/60

Snods 6, Snods Edge, Sunday, May 15, 2016

6.25 miles

Shaun Roberts

Rubbish. Utterly useless. Sadly, Elvet Striders performances at Snods Edge were truly awful. This is the quiz I’m talking about. Failing to name the “lithuated lemon drink invented in 1929”, for example cost us dearly (‘Seven-Up’) … as did failing to actually get right answers such as ‘Anastasia’ onto the quiz paper, though I blame a certain Dutchman for that one …

The race, you ask? Well, let’s get me out of the way first. I had a good fast start, legged it out of the big dip, and felt Simon breathing on my shoulder. Managed to stretch ahead, and kept in front of him for a surprisingly long time, and went through 5K in 20:45 or so … so far so good. Then just as we went off the tarmac section he went past, and I wasn’t to see much of him again. Then I had another battle with a ‘PB Fitness’ runner, and he kept me honest till the finish, so I ended up pushing quite hard the whole way, and was well-pleased to get round in 43 minutes plus the small change.

Will.
photos © and courtesy Sara Sarginson

Marco.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile … at the sharp end, Will had won the race, after coming in second twice, I think, in previous attempts. Tom came in third, confirming how well he’s going at the moment, and Simon had overtaken a couple more to come in eighth. If our good friends and hosts the Bounders had been keeping track of team entries, I reckon we’d have been a shoe-in for the team prize. It is even dimly possible that my eleventh position might have qualified for a gadgie prize, had there been one, but more likely one of those young fit lads at the front will have turned out to be 59. One day …

Carolyn.
photos © and courtesy Sara Sarginson

Louise and Greta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For our ladies, Carolyn, Jules and Rachel all had good runs, and with the largest number of entries from any team, we were well-represented throughout the field.

After the race, the usual festivities in the village hall were a good crack. Excellent bottled beers, a superb spread of food: curries, pizzas, pies, token salad … and a fine selection of puddings (thanks for yours, Lydia!), of which special mention goes to the carrot cake. Then the above-mentioned quiz, of which enough said, and the raffle, which we were seriously unlucky in, the notable exception being Carolyn who scooped a fine red hat with a bottle of wine inside.

So … many thanks to Blackhill Bounders for another splendid and well-organised evening! We’ll be back …

Sara Sarginson took some excellent photographs catching quite a few Striders in a good mood at a gate … more at link below:

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Time
1 Will Horsley M 37:34
3 Tom Reeves M 40:49
8 Simon Gardner M 42:05
11 Shaun Roberts M 43:16
13 Cate Clarke PB Fitness F 44:21
27 Conrad White M 47:12
34 Carolyn Bray F 48:42
35 Marco Van Den Bremer M 49:07
37 Bill Ford M 49:22
49 Juliet Percival F 51:09
52 Rachel Bullock F 51:57
57 Danny Lim M 52:32
57+ Lucy Cowton F 52:45-ish?
58 Jean Bradley F 53:06
60 Paul Beal M 53:37
71 Lydia Hutchinson F 56:09
72 Louise Barrow F 56:19
73 Greta Jones F 56:19
76 George Nicholson M 57:32
76+ Barrie Evans M 60:00-ish?
77 Karen Chalkey F 60:24
79 Victoria Tindale F 61:44
80 Mike Elliot M 62:26
81 Andy James M 62:30
82 Christine Farnsworth F 62:50
84 Jo Richardson F 63:06
85 Dave Robson M 63:09

89 finishers.

Dentdale Run, Dent, Cumbria, Saturday, March 12, 2016

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. Sprint Champion Race - click flag for more information. 14 miles 379 yards

Penny Browell

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.

Penny and Swaledale friend.
photo courtesy and © Andrew Thrippleton

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.

Gareth
photo courtesy and © Andrew Thrippleton

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