Category Archives: Relays

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

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

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 ?

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


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.

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.

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”?

Calderdale Relay, Halifax, Sunday, May 11, 2014

50 miles

Denise Benvin, Dave Shipman, Paul Evans

I had never run in a fell race in my life and was still of the opinion that hills and the such likes should be walked up not run up. Little did I know what I had let myself in for. I had like a few other striders taken up the kind offer of overnight accommodation the night prior to the race with a nice pint and a lovely curry, A good night was had by all and we all departed to one of the hospitable Shipman residencies for a good nights sleep. The rain continued through the night and I just knew that it was going to be a bit wet and muddy for the race, this was the Pennines after all, whilst very beautiful it can be on the bleak side when the sun isn’t shining. This race is run in 6 legs and covers more than 50 miles, each leg needs 2 people per team. An early start was needed as leg one set off at 8am with registration taking place before hand. I was to run leg 2 from Cragg Vale with Dave Shipman, who was a veteran of these fells having grown up in the area, little did I realise I was going to get a good feel for a fell race that day. We left straight after the start of leg 1 and myself and Flip in one car Dave and the A teams leg 2 people Nigel and Mike plus people to drive cars to the next leg for when we had finished, the continuing theme of rain arriving at regular intervals was not hard to miss. The A team left before us having 2 sets of extremely quick legs carrying the baton myself and Dave set of at the mass start cut off point at 9.45. The start was at the bottom of a hill which had started to resemble a small river with the by now heavy rain, the hill was relentless an went on for approximately 3 miles it took you up the road to the moorland which was a mixture of bog, mud and water. In places it was almost up to my knees. The weather had really taken a turn for the worse as we climbed up to the top and we were battered with driving rain an strong winds.

Once more into the breach!

We eventually got to Stoodley Pike at the summit and were checked off by the marshals making sure nobody took a short cut, Dave at this point was probably wishing he had picked someone a bit quicker to do the leg with. We had having reached the top of our first climb a decent to do, which in all fairness you would think would be nice and quick, think again. The path down was no more than rock and a deep thin carved rut in the side of the hill that didn’t resemble anything like a pathway down and it was a question of find your own safe way down, and at this point wished I had better footwear for the job but I did get to the bottom having by some miracle only landed on my backside once. We made our way along the trail to a farm house once again going down on my backside due to slippy stone slabs the next few miles although up hill where on the road so not boggy or slippy we made our way though the countryside and Mankinholes till we got to the last climb, this was a steep climb and when I got to the top and looked back at where I had come from I was pleased that I had actually got this far (some hadn’t) and also rather glad that I had no more climbs to do on my leg just the final decent in to Todmorden this was a lovely steep path of what can only be described as mud and shavings, luckily a few nice clean deep puddles were on hand to help wash some of the mud off at the bottom. I have to say that this was a phenomenal experience and one I will never forget, the sense of achievement when you complete your leg is fantastic. Leg 2 is just over 8 miles long and has a total climb of more than 1400 ft. The organisation that goes into getting more than 1000 people round this relay Is outstanding. The pie and nice hot drink at the end are a welcome snack as was the pint that closely followed. I would highly recommend people to try this event and hope that I am allowed to represent my club next year after a bit of shoe shopping and some more practise.

No, not wet in the slightest ...

Dave Shipman adds:

Thanks and Well Done to everyone who turned out and succeeded in getting 2 x 12 people round a challenging 55 mile relay in wild, wet and windy weather, with dreadful conditions underfoot. The A team was a very credible 46th out of 90 teams, kept the baton into the 4th leg too, and the B team, featuring several Calderdale novices, wasn’t last, just. (87th team!!) Hope folk aren’t too sore and stiff today, especially Denise who fell at least 3 times on her leg and had the cuts to prove it.

PS. Forgot to mention that at the finish, after the pie and beer (thanks Louise) we had the most delicious chocolate and peanut butter cakes, courtesy of Kerry B.

Paul Evans adds:

I’d like to reiterate the congratulations – the passage of the baton into the fourth leg (against some very demanding cut-off timings) marks a record for the club, and achieving this in conditions that cycled between benign and horrible every few minutes (the weather, that is; the ground was consistently bad) is a great achievement. Additionally, if I’m not mistaken, one of the B team is a runner who roughly a year ago was on the C25K course; to have reached the stage where said runner can line up at the start of a very demanding leg against some of the best fell runners in the UK is amazingly inspiring.

Finally thanks to all who helped to make yesterday happen, by participation and logistical support – yesterday was a proper team effort. Now, anyone for the FRA relays in the autumn (in the Howgills), or is this a question best asked once bruises have faded?

Cathedral Relays, Durham, Sunday, January 12, 2014


Simon Gardner

After the success of the Summer Relays I was delighted when our club secretary Katy sent an email around asking for interest in the winter event which is called the Cathedral Relays – the relay races are a great event to run in and also make fantastic viewing.


So on a bitterly cold morning I picked Katherine up and we made our way to the clubhouse just near the old Durham parkrun finish to meet our fellow team mates. I was originally in a team with Will Horsley and James Garland with myself taking the final leg.

As we approached the start there was no sign of either Will or James so it was decided that I would take the opening leg which was also the first race of the day (Male veterans) which would give James and Will more time to turn up. I’d had a second place finish at Tees’s barrage parkrun the day before so while I was nowhere near peak fitness it had given me some confidence going into the race.

I decided to start near the back to stop me going off to hard, I managed to judge the first part fairly well and when I approached the last 500M of the first lap I felt fairly good. Onto lap 2 and I could see a couple of lads from Crook AC some way in front of me so that was my target. One lung bursting and hideously painful last push and I finished just behind the lads from Crook AC . I was shattered but really pleased with my time 11:41.

At the finish I was greeted by Katy saying “well done, how do you fancy doing the last leg as well?”    NO….. NOT A CHANCE…..

So 12 minutes later I was on the 3rd leg which understandably was a lot slower than the first! (12:31), it transpired that Will and James thought they were running the senior race which started later. The classifications were different for this race so they were classed as veterans not seniors but as I found out in the summer relays it’s a lot more work than people realise so I’ll take the opportunity thank Katy once again.

Katy legging it across the frosty turf.

Speaking of our Club secretary she had a great battle with Rachel Terry which was great to watch. The performance and commitment of all our teams on a bitterly cold day was great and that shows that not only is our club growing but the standard of running is increasing which is fantastic.

Harrogate to Durham Charity Relay, Saturday, September 21, 2013

Angela Proctor and Sue Jennings

Hoof it for Henshaws!

Angela Proctor …

The Relay reaches Helmsley ...

What a brilliant weekend people had! It was packed full of adventure. I have been overwhelmed by the camaraderie, support and generosity from everyone and total strangers.

The weekend would not have taken place if it hadn’t been for the hard work Geoff Watson and Dave Shipman put into the planning and the logistics of the whole event. This is one of many reasons Elvet Striders is a great club to be in.

... but the pressure's starting to tell on Angela.

Geoff estimates that everyone achieved 500 miles.

We have raised approximately £740.35 for Henshaws.

Overall I know it has been a great experience and successful weekend. We have run in some amazing scenery and had a good laugh along the way.


Thank you all so much for the weekend.

… Sue Jennings

I ran the leg from Thorpe Thewles Station to Hurworth Burn Station with Angela, Dave and Mike. The run was lovely along the old railway line – the sun was shining and it was very warm. We completed the section in less than the time allocated which was great as I was worried about doing this especially in the heat.

I then cycled the next section with Louise, Mike, Dave and Geoff which again I thoroughly enjoyed even though there were loads of nettles and Dave had to carry my bike at one point. Would have liked to have cycled the last section back to Maiden Castle but it wasn’t suitable for a bike so drove back to wait for the last leg to come in. And when we ran to the Castle it was great that there were loads of people sitting outside waiting to see the Lindisfarne Gospels, as well as a few Elvet Striders who had turned out to greet those who had been involved in the relays.

Had a great afternoon and thought it was a great team effort and enjoyed everyone’s company.

Thank you to Geoff, David and Angela for organising the relay. I am so pleased it raised so much money for Henshaws.