Category Archives: Relays

Norman Woodcock Memorial Relays, Newburn, Saturday, November 24, 2018

3 x 1.66 miles, minimum 1 female per team

Fiona Brannan, Gareth Pritchard, Natalie Bell

Fiona Brannan

A total of eighteen Striders turned out on a sunny, slightly chilly November morning for the relays, forming the maximum allowed six teams and truly representing the club and Durham. With teams comprised of new members, road, fell and endurance runners young, and slightly less young the diversity of the club was certainly shown, with fantastic performances all around.

Georgie led the senior team (with Gareth and Fiona), to a strong start, coming round to hand over to the second leg near the top of the field, with a cracking time. After a significantly slower, but a somewhat competitive time in the ‘lady leg’ (possibly 80% of the leg two runners were female), Gareth then took over to fly around and bring the team in a commendable 5th place overall.

The team to watch, however, were the V60 athletes, older but seemingly not much slower as Geoff, Roz and Conrad stormed round to bring the team in 2nd place, only narrowly missing out on the win by a few seconds. Special mention must go to the individual performances here – Geoff bringing home the overall fastest V60 times of the day (not bad for a fell runner!), Conrad coming in with the 2nd V60, and Roz taking the 2nd female V60. Something to aspire to for all those in the younger age categories!

And for a second leg account from someone very out of their comfort zone, but who put on a cracking run…

Natalie Bell

So short runs are not my thing, the feeling of running flat out and close to my limit does not appeal to me. That sick feeling of not being able to breathe nice and deep and my head screaming stop…nope not my thing.

However, I am a fan of team spirit and I love it when striders come together to support each other so I decided to broaden my horizons and go for it. I’m a nervous runner before a race so finding out there were no toilets near the start line did not turn my frown upside down. How bad could this relay be? 1.6 mile of feeling out of breath and on the verge of vomiting… at least it would be over quickly.

Having a look around to scout out the competition didn’t help, especially when you see the likes of Aly Dixon warming up! I felt like I didn’t belong there, trying to run ‘fast’, when we all know I’m a half marathon runner at heart. Steady plodding and deep breathing is where I’m comfortable.

So… after all the overthinking, miserable face and nerves, I went on to run my fastest ever mile and I didn’t vomit!! It’s not a bad feeling over-taking people one by one and the atmosphere towards the finish was fantastic. The pain was over very quickly but the feeling of accomplishment and improvement remains. I tried something new, I surprised myself and I might have liked it a little. Just a little. I will be back next year and I will be hunting down a new fastest mile PB!!

And from our former captain, road-running extraordinaire…

Gareth Pritchard

Norman Woodcock relays from the almost sharp end.

Some people are put off by the fast, flat, tarmac, relays. Not me as it’s everything I love about our sport.

I appreciate other forms of our sport and have taken part in them all. I recognise their value, attraction and training values for sure. You need to do what you love and enjoy, otherwise, you end up doing no running at all. Find your passion for running and commit, that’s the best advice I’ve ever received. 1 week earlier I’d run a sub 2:55 marathon experiment using heart rate, so my expectations pre-run were low.

6 teams were soon formed, with me, George Hebdon and Fiona Brannan in my team. We placed 6th on the day out of over 100+ teams (FB edit – upgraded to 5th in the latest publication of Athletics weekly!). A very impressive performance and a marker in the sand for future teams for sure.

So what was my race like? Stood round in the pen, shot off like a sprinter then into my familiar groove of almost mile pace. I swapped into K pace splits for the short distance, better feedback. I love having people to chase, and I managed to get past a few but left it too late to catch more.

A fantastic experience and the big smiles all round showed that others thought the same too. The team aspect of relays can’t be understated; running can be a solitary sport at times. So we need these days, a reminder that we are a team, a family and a fantastic club.

Results

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DKMS Charity Relays, Aykley Heads, Durham, Saturday, June 23, 2018

24 hours

Clear skies and fine weather made for a great weekend of running round Aykley Heads. Unsung heroes saw the sun set and sun rise over Durham as they saw the event through from set up to strike down. 24 hours, and then some.

Shaun and Ros were there to open and close the event. I missed the start (I’d forgotten how steep that hill is up from Durham on a bike) so don’t have any photos of the beginning of the event. If you have any photos you’d like to add to the gallery below please get in touch.

Jonathan writes:

“We had everything in place and were primed for the start.  I was going to lead the first lap in my DKMS shirt and we realised we needed a baton.  Thanks to the quick thinking of our President, David Shipman, a frog (fly-swatter) was produced from his camper van which we kept going every minute of the 24-hour period.  We tweeted updates every 250km run and we hoped to exceed 1500km and were delighted to hit 1725km but more importantly, to finish with Shaun leading the charge on the final lap – with an impressive sprint finish. We often say we are proud to be purple (our club colours) and this weekend was no exception.

We took a total of £1110 in cash donations. In addition Abbey’s Angels have paid £95 direct to DKMS.  Jan and Tony Young who provided endless cups of tea and coffee (and cake!) over the 24-hour period also raised £86 in sponsorship (plus Gift Aid).  The Just Giving campaign page is heading nicely towards £500 plus Gift Aid, so we should raise at least £1 for every km run! “

Some statistics (H/T Angela):

112 people ran
Total of 345 laps run (1,725 km)

Teams with most laps
1) Waldridge Warriers completed 67 laps
2) Long Slow Run Sunday completed 36 laps
3) Sisters with Blisters completed 31 laps
4) Abbey Angels completed 15 laps
5) Durham City Harriers completed 9 laps
6) Farmer Maggot and his/her Turnip completed 2 laps.

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Calderdale Way Relay, Sunday, May 20, 2018

Paul Evans

Many of you, having been harangued by me over the last few months, will know that this race is special to me. It is also special to the Club, as evidenced by the fact that they pay entry fees for as many teams as we can muster. I can’t answer for the Club, but for me there is a lot to be said for the scenery, the fact that it is now a summer race, meaning you can enjoy said scenery (having raced the winter version before a particularly brutal cold spell caused cancellation in 2010, I know of what I speak), and the pairs-relay format. Why the latter? Simple: no two runners are the same. There is joy when, as team captain, you match a pair of runners well enough that they complete a leg mutually-exhausted and having run in a way that just feels right for both of them. Witness Jack Lee and Mark Warner in 2016 or Tom Reeves/Jon Ayres and Diane Watson/Angela Greathead in the same year.

There is also the challenge of trying to finesse the selection of runners in Elvet A to maximise the chance of us both being competitive and getting the baton around the course, against ever-tighter cut-offs which date from the years of this being a winter race, with dusk at 1600hrs.

This year, the challenge was truly set, as we had to make 2 teams of 12 runners, in 6 pairs each, to complete the 55 or so miles of the ever-undulating course. Courtesy of clashes with P2P and Windermere, family commitments, last-minute emergencies and a general nervousness about the fact we would be travelling 2 hours south just to get beaten by some of the UK’s best fell-runners, we had 17 runners to make up these 2 teams. Not quite Jesus, the bread and the fish, but I like to think something of that ilk was required in order to hand in 2 complete team sheets at Heath RUFC, bright and early on the Sunday morning.

We’d opted to go with what we thought would be the quickest Elvet A team possible, at the cost of this team comprising 7 runners for 12 places, 5 of them doing 2 legs apiece. Elvet B had the relative luxury of 9 runners for their 12 places, with only Angela G, Danielle W and Mandy D having to double up. The instructions for Elvet B were something along the lines of ‘enjoy, it’s a lovely day for it, see you on the course.’ Elvet A’s first two leg pairs, all of them doing other legs later, were asked to give everything they had on the first leg, hold nothing in reserve, then try to do it again later.

Final words spoken, Phil Ray and I stood with Nigel H and Mandy D at the bottom of the bank for the mass start, surrounded by close-packed bodies and ready for the sprint to the start of the climb through the woods. Words were spoken, the runners in front of us moved and so did we, with the intention of getting far enough up the field that we would get ‘trapped’ in position neither too far forward nor too far back as, after about half a mile or so of climbing, there is a mile-long section where overtaking is near-impossible on a narrow path between a fence an foliage skirting the moor.

I took the pace here, trusting Phil to stay roughly behind me and to shout if any problems, and we next saw each other at the top when we were able to exit the woodland path and start slowly overtaking pairs in front of us, hitting a road crossing just after two miles to the encouragement of the Striders who’d driven up to shout us on at this early point.

The field was fairly tight here, with us following a pair of Barlick ladies who we’d tail for the remainder of the leg, as well as assorted other colourful vests from Yorks and Lancs. Firm ground made for a decent pace, Phil leading across the moor edge as the Calder Valley fell away to our right, taking us through miles 3 and 4 at sub-8m/m pace until we hit a long downhill into Ripponden where we let the feet fly, high-fiving at 7 minute-mile pace a trio of amicable drunks who appeared to be at the end of a long night, swigging cans of Polish lager as they tried to ascend the lane we were hammering down. The fun ended here, as a core rule of fell-running is that if you lose height, you’ve got to re-gain it; so it proved, with the next three miles being a slog out of the town, a brief descent and then a longer pull upwards, initially through bluebell woods then onto an interminable farm track/minor road combination, hitting the moorland again at around 8.5m, slowly climbing a little more and then downhilling all the way for the last mile and a half, finally over-taking the Barlick pair, being overhauled by CVFR B despite now running sub 7m/m, leaving the moor, cutting through more pretty woodland and dropping into Cragg Vale to hand the baton on to Fiona and Jack, arms outstretched and with the intensity of hungry greyhounds at the front of the waiting group.

Job done in 1.29hrs for 10.7m (27th overall). Water on board. Wait for Mandy and Nigel, see of Danielle Whitworth and Jan Young, then off to Todmorden.

I can’t really comment on leg 2, other than to say it is:
a) hard, particularly in the heat
b) clearly well-suited to Fiona and Jack, who managed 1.12 for it, comparable to the best-in-recent-years time set by Tom and Jon, handing over to Mike Bennett and David Gibson for Elvet A, Paul Foster and Angela Greathead doing the honours for Elvet B, though we had to leave before they set off. Leg 3, by the way, is only 5 miles, but they’re all uphill and by now the day was uncomfortably toasty (official met-office terminology).

The next stop for the race is Blackshaw Head, a small village sitting high up on the edge of the moorland, with the luxury of a portable loo and a cake/tea stall set up to raise money for the local school. After earlier exertions, Fiona and I should probably have partaken in the latter but did not do so as we were more concerned with getting registered for the leg and making our way to the start, in the hope that Mike and David had thrashed themselves. To their credit, they did, managing 54 minutes for the leg, meaning Fiona and I had around 1.25hrs to beat the cut-off for this 9.5m leg.

Fresh, I think we might have managed it, and we managed a rapid-enough start down the first hill, over the ancient packhorse bridge (under repair), up to Heptonstall and down to the river, Fiona positively bouncing when presented with a descent. The fourth mile, however, was an absolute swine, 441′ of climbing in the mile, reducing us to 15 minutes for said mile and effectively wrecking our chances of beating the clock, as our legs were not quite able to capitalise as they should on the next few miles of glorious open moorland. Basically, we slowed whenever the path went upwards and could not quite compensate when it went down. On the plus side, a pair overtaking us (one of three who did so) called Fiona a ‘legend’ when they heard that we were on our second leg of the day, which I think is high praise indeed; a muttered ‘well-done’ is more standard in the world of the fells. In pain, leg four ended with a rapid descent past the evocatively-named Jerusalem Farm, through more woods, over another stream, up through the trees and, finally, at near-walking pace, to the handover point at Wainstalls, all runners (including our own Jack, Phil, Danielle and Dave Shipman) now departed as we’d managed 1.36hrs. There was little to do but sag, mutter ‘well done’ to each other and gratefully accept the water thrust at us by Danielle’s mum (a Sowerby Snails runner herself). Mandy and Camilla were in a while later, both looking suitably sweaty.

For us, the war was over, and there was little to be done but head back to the rugby club for the finish, as we’d not be able to get to the leg 5 finish/leg 6 start in time to see off David G, Mike Hughes, Keith Wesson and Angela G at Shelf village. So we did, admittedly somewhat disappointed, albeit (in my case) hugely impressed with the guts shown by Fiona in putting herself through a painful second leg with nothing in the tank. The rugby club had showers, tea and food, as well as the all-important sunny, dry field to watch the finishers. My vest now has a pink streak on the left-hand white stripe, where I had inadequately-vaselined myself; it started to move, so I generally didn’t. David and Mike came in, both looking slightly worse for a day that was now officially super-toasty (again, official term), their 1.58 seeing us 45th team of 100 (in 8.24hrs), then Angela and Keith finished off for us, their 2.21 giving us a time of 11.52hrs for Elvet B, 98th of the 100 teams.

I’ll leave it there, but for to say that this was a hot, hard day for running, and everything I asked of the runners doing two legs was given in spades. Rarely have I been so pleased to see harrowed, hollow-eyed faces. Particular mentions to both Danielle and Fiona, both of whom were out of their comfort zones, both of them also fairly new club members – to take this on was no small undertaking. Thanks also to those who came down to run one leg each, particularly given the effort apparent for all. Next year? Well, the dream of being able to submit Elvet A, B and C lives on, and it remains an aspiration to run Elvet A as a one-leg-per-runner team, as I maintain we could be fairly competitive on this basis. Ladies and gents, I have a dream. Or three.

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Northern Athletics 6 stage Road Relay Championships, Sport City, Manchester, Saturday, September 16, 2017

6.5k legs

3 years ago I struggled to get a team together for this relay, 4 lonely excited Striders competed that day and I’ve been struggling ever since to get us back. This time it was different.  With a 50/50 split between old and new Striders in the team, we headed down to Manchester and into the unknown for all but myself.

The excitement was in the air as we walked over the bridge Towards the Etihad Stadium and sport city complex.  Some incredible fast youngsters flew past us on the way to registration as they raced round on their relay leg. This set the tone of a truly top end competition and a sense of home coming for myself.

Sport city was developed for the 2002 commonwealth games, the facilities are incredible. Registration was inside the main building leading to the outdoor track, job done and I was face to face with something completely new to me. A 200m indoor running track, looking round at the excited Strider faces next to me we all had the same thought, wow this is amazing.

The 200m indoor track is the warm-up area and a truly odd experience to run round. The curves are banked inwards and you are chucked round the bends as you tick off the laps. Must be an awesome experience racing on one of these and something I dream of experiencing one day. Made me chuckle as we all gave it a go, some loved it and other soon drifted to the flat route round the bottom as they felt sick due to the camber. (Chris Callan looked sea sick 😜)

We found our base station round the track and planted our purple flag with pride. This required quick thinking as no grass, thankfully Mark Warner had a spare pair of shoes and laces to do the job 😄. pictures and Facebook post done, the team soaked in the atmosphere.

100+ teams from the north are represented consisting of their very best best runners. All hoping to qualify for the national road championships. Top 25 is the standard and the dream, but I knew it was a massive achievement for Striders just to field a competitive team. The positive chats and feedback have been amazing from many of our local clubs. They were all pleased and quite shocked to see us, the feeling of pride was really overwhelming.

Onto the running, each man gave their best which is all I ever ask. Each had their battles and all had that massive grin on their faces as they walked back to the strider area.

Chris Callan was the first leg, the excitement of starting on the track next to 150 amazing runners did nothing to distract this dedicated runner. Set off at a solid pace and consistent splits showed what a rising star he will be for the club. A solid start and strong run.

James Lee shot off on the second leg, the hand overs are just like the Durham cathedral relays and well organised. A good leg from James with his distinctive style sprint finish and 100% effort. James was A last minute stand in for the relay and I’m massively great full for him stepping up.

Mark Griffiths was next, another new strider and showing massive potential with a fast run only 3 seconds behind the flying Chris. I have no doubt Mark will continue to get ever quicker and had some amazing flying feet pictures on the day.

Mark Warner running 4th,  was massively exciting to watch as we were clearly mixing it up in the middle of this incredible field of runners. Mark ran with dedication and a impressive continued return to form.

Michael Littlewood was up next, running on heavy marathon training legs but doing what he always does, pushing through and fighting hard. Rewarded with the 2nd fastest strider leg on the day and again first strider to the beer tent 😄

I decided to run the last leg, I hunted down a few people and loved the excited cheers from the team as I charged down the home straight. The course takes you looping round the outside of the stadium, round the sport city complex then finish back on the track. The heavens opened during my leg but happy to even pace and play my part.

The strider team officially placed 55th of the day out of 103 complete teams. Some teams being disqualified and some were incomplete. We all enjoyed a nice cold beer on the way home and reflected on what we had just experienced.

So what did we think? Wow is all we could say.  For the first time Striders had fielded a complete team and we didn’t just show up, we were competitive with the very best the north had to offer. I felt proud as we chatted about the day and the possibility of doing it all again. A truly amazing experience and something I can highly recommend to everyone in the future.

So next stop will be 25th march 2018 when I will try once again to get a 12 man team together. An even greater challenge, but definitely worth a go. Would be even better if we could field a ladies team too.

Can it be done? After today I think we have a chance.

Results:- 55th place 103 finished teams

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Eric North Memorial Calderdale Way Relay – Leg 5, Wainstalls, Halifax, Sunday, May 21, 2017

7.55 miles

Jack Lee

In honesty it shouldn’t have surprised me that what had started over a year before and eventually developed into a determined pact between two men to come back and conquer a fell race ended in a roar of noise. That noise for the most part was Mark “encouraging” me (not so gently) up the hill towards the final lane and the finish not far beyond. Besides the noise what I remember is mostly made up of fragments of images and a feeling of overwhelming tiredness as I pushed my body to its limit. I felt I had long since passed what should have been my limit but a year’s work is not something to be thrown away easily and the end was all but in sight. So I ignored the fatigue, the pain and the cowardly voice in my head calling for an end to the first two and pumped my legs.

 

This feat of probable stupidity had started a year before when Mark and I, without any idea of where we were going, ran the 5th leg of the Calderdale Way Relays from Wainstalls to Shelf and by divine luck and following people who looked like they knew what they were doing made a good fist of it all; coming in a just a minute over the hour cut off for that leg. We probably could have left it at that and walked away heads held high but I think we are both more than a bit stubborn and we made a pact to try it the next year but this time having recced the course. It took us until the Tuesday before to get out and figure out where we would be going on the race day and there was quite a comparison between our amicable lope over the hills to Wainstalls and then back again to Shelf and the actual race day. It took over three hours and involved a fair amount of time lost, especially at the start. In the end what should have been 15 miles ended up nearer to 17.5 and the light was almost gone but the fire in our stomachs burned all the brighter.

 

Nothing Mark and I do can never be easy and we both did our best to ruin the start of the race with Mark turning up in the nick of time 15 minutes after registration should have ended and my bambi on ice moments in the first mile. The mass start of the race was hectic with not so much warning of the start as a shout from the marshals that the race had started. We all hurriedly dashed off with Mark and me falling into place as the third pair (we would finish 2nd from the mass start by the end). The crush of people meant I wasn’t getting much time to see my foot placements and after five or so minutes I did what I had feared and rocked a bit over on my left ankle. The day before, however, in a rare moment of insight I had bought an ankle support which probably saved our race and after a few limping strides I managed to get running again. At this point we were on the first of the three most trying climbs of the route up a grassy and mucky slope through farm fields to the farm buildings themselves. Here we pushed, keeping up with those around. Until we happily crested the hill and started down a long grassy descent a long what might be an old mining track to the outskirts of a small village.

 

I felt Mark pushing and it was all I could do to keep up with him. Generally either one of us could be ahead on the uphill, the downhills were my ground but on the flat I felt like a sailor without a boat…desperately trying to keep afloat. It continued like this for a good while with a few scrambles through fields and the odd chance to throw ourselves through small gaps in the walls until we reached the longest climb. It started with a steep road section which I happily ran. In the recce we had agreed that both of us could walk and run the loose track afterwards (still steep as anything) but Mark was obviously feeling in fine fettle (see the next photo) and dragged me up at a slow jog with him, passing a few groups with batons on the way. At the top we met two ladies one of which appeared to be very tired and her partner (obviously the fitter) was pressing ahead. We had a brief section of flat…Mark sped up, but I knew after that there was a tight squeeze through a gate and a downhill section. The fitter of the two women was battling to stay ahead of me, however, and I had to call most of my strength just to dive through entrance before her even though her partner was a fair distance behind.

 

The downhill was a relief and for a while I could be the one pushing but what goes downhill in fell running quite often has to go back up and after crossing a small stream we had a short steep climb into a quaint hamlet before a very steep and grassy climb. I had to warn Mark as he tried to miss the turning towards this horrific slope. By this time it was just us and Team 7 (Baildon Runners). We had been nearby each other all the way through the race and now as the end was in sight we both took chances to try and break away from each other. First came their attempt after the grassy slope on the still uphill but not as steep lane and then one of Mark’s shortly after. I pushed and pushed determined not to be holding him back. After a few fields and lanes we came out onto a road just above Shelf and Mark roared into action sailing down the hill and I went with him.

 

It was the uphill shortly afterwards where he started encouraging me enthusiastically, with the two others behind us mirroring. As Mark shouted “Come on Jack” we could hear from behind “Come on Eoin”. I am going to be honest that the climb felt slow. I later found out that we had done the last half a mile in about three minutes. Mark had splits in pen on his arm and he neglected to mention that while we had been 35 or so seconds up on last year at one point we had lost that before the last mile and a half. After what felt like an eternity of torment we came to the turning and I all but sprinted down the lane. I remember a flash of the paving stones and one of the pair behind shouting “30 seconds”. We burst out of the laneway to happy faces and I pumped one fist in the air as I stopped my timer on 59.37. The later results are wrong and still say 1.01 to my chagrin. We had done it and given Louise and Keith a 10 second or so head start on the pack, which was hard earned and I suspect we will never get thanked for…

 

It does look like it was drinks and smiles all around at the rugby club in Halifax but I had already headed off for a few days in the Lakes.

 

 

 

Results are available to download here

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Signals Relays, Hetton Lyon Country Park, Saturday, February 14, 2015

Simon Gardner

As will be probably know by now I’m a lover of relay events so after spectating at this event over the last 3 years I decided to try and organise some teams to represent our club.

The event is based in Hetton Lyons park near Houghton Le Spring and is all on Tarmac paths (my favourite), so after a lot of reorganising teams due to several members being hit by flu and colds we had two male and two female teams ready to go.

Our two female teams of four runners were first to go , Elaine and Steph first away and they did not let us down Elaine covering the undulating 2.2 mile (2 lap course) in a speedy 14min 17s which was the fastest time of the day, special mention goes to Katy who was not far behind and looks like to be returning to top form as well.

I had arranged the teams in a rough order of speed rather than the strict age categories so the birthday girl Sally Riding ran with out Vet 35 team, I just think it’s better running with people of similar pace and also it would much more difficult to get full teams out with just 18 runners.

It was soon the boys turn with two teams of six runners set up ready to go. Again they were some great performances with Rob Everson fastest strider of the day covering the 2.2 mile in 12min 28s with Gareth 2 seconds behind (who was also first finisher at hartlepool parkrun in 17:32 that morning!) and myself following in 12:33 (canny happy with that!- but God it hurt)

Another special mention goes to our wonderful support crew (Alister , Jacquie, Jill, Anna) and the cake which was wonderful. From myself I want to thank everyone for their efforts today, a fantastic tail runner experience at Durham parkrun this followed by running with our wonderful club was just what I needed. Next year anyone ?

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Northern Athletics Men’s Road Relays, Warrington, Saturday, September 20, 2014

6x6,000M

Gareth Pritchard

Two things hit me when I turned up for this event, first was how similar it looked to a harrier league event. Over 100 northern running clubs with tents set up on the grass and flying their flags with pride for all to see. Second was what a shame only 4 lone striders were here to experience it as really exceeded all my expectations.

First leg was Rob Everson posting a respectable time for a fast lad of 22:48 and leading the team well. Considering the first leg was won in 18:07, you can see the competition was extremely high. Rob is still fighting off a ongoing cold that’s derailed his training massively, so this was a great effort and showed true dedication which bodes well for what is going to be an impressive HL season for rob I’m sure.

Second leg was me 😄 posting a 21:40 which I’m happy with, raced a young lad round the 6k and out kicked him in the end 😄 very enjoyable. Tainted a bit when ex strider Adam pointed out the bloke runs a easy sub 17min parkrun and just coming back from injury. But great banter on the way round and all smiles at the end. Really made my race.

Third leg was Simon Gardner posting 23:38 and gaining another 2 places for the strider team on another impressive leg. Showing great form of late and knocking out PB’s for fun. Really gave 100% and posted a last mile split which would have seen him pulling away from me. Great stuff.

Forth and unfortunately our last leg was Matthew crow posting another quick time 23:48 and keeping our team in a respectable overall position. Mathew is another up and coming strider who seems to be getting quicker all the time. Fantastic commitment shown on his leg, that sub 40min 10k will fall in no time I’m sure. Well done.

If we had a full team We would have finished about 70 to 75th in a massively talented field of over 110 teams. A great effort and we can all hold our heads up as a club. I’m sure many local clubs will have taken note of our efforts and was nice seeing others doing well too.

I will Finnish this off with an early call for both Male and Female striders to keep an eye out for this event next year. The club will hopefully help promote this early when we get the dates through. This really is an event suitable for most striders and would be fantastic to get a few teams together next year and show everyone what a talented and friendly club we striders are.

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Summer Cross Country Relays, Durham Racecourse, Monday, August 18, 2014

Simon Gardner

After the success of last year’s relay I once again volunteered to organise the teams for the event which is put on by Durham City Harriers. Last year we had 24 runners (8 teams) but this year the demand was even bigger and we had an excellent turnout of 33 runners which made up 11 teams.

Imagine holding crisps between your thumb and forefinger, and look slightly ahead and down ... -- Allan Seheult
photo courtesy and © Barry Cornelius

We only had one team in the senior category and that was also our fastest team consisting of Gareth Pritchard, Rob Everson and Stephen Jackson and they did not let us down finishing in 11th place which is fantastic considering the really high standard of the senior runners running on the night. Rob was also the fastest strider of the night coming home in 10:37 for 2 mile which is very impressive and shows the fantastic progress he has made over the last year.

While no-one let us down the weather most certainly did. It started to pour down around 6:30 and didn’t let up for a good 30 minutes, so by the time the Vets race started we had 30 wet ,cold but determined striders ready to go.

The rain thankfully had stopped by the time all our first leg runners assembled on the start line in the Vet race.

Just picking out a few striders for special mention, Matthew Crow continues to improve massively and managed an excellent 11:38 for the 2 mile circuit and looks in great shape for coming XC season, thanks also to Penny Browell and Clare Galloway for stepping in late in the day and giving it their all.

Finally many thanks to everyone came down to run and support.

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Blackhill Bounders Relay, Consett, Wednesday, May 21, 2014

2.1m x3

Dave Shipman

Steelworks Relay, can’t be as good as Snods Edge can it?
Great night for a run though, so give it a go.
Golden skies and fantastic panoramas.
Can Consett have a beautiful side?

Striders meet, greet and decide
Whats the route, which team, number, leg, teammates and handover process?
Which direction, how many laps, how many hills, where’s the start?

Striders excuse and cajole, pre-race justifications abound
Too many races, long miles, Spanish holidays, injuries, targets ahead
Days filled with French champagne or too much work
All interrupted by Race Coordinator instructions.

Striders race, compete, encourage, support and cheer all
Rocky, dusty trail across the plain
Meander through the long grass
Descend through the woods
Lung-busting, sweat-breaking, gulping and groaning two-stage hill, some walk, none stop, completely.
Back across the plain, leg-trembling lactic staggering disguised as final sprints.

Striders win, celebrate, bask in glory, smiles all round and team photos
The purple army returns to HQ to reap rewards.

Striders eat, drink and quiz
Grazing through curry, ham, crisps, pizza, cakes, buffet of all varieties
Great night, great run.
But which band sang “Californication”?

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