Category Archives: Club News and Events

This covers any news and information coming from the club which we want to make known to the wider public, including publicity about Striders-hosted events.

Managing mental health – Endurance running is my salvation and why my workplace prospers from it, Friday, May 26, 2017

Jason Trimmer – Chiltern Harriers

Quite a long title I know, so bear with me whilst I explain. Those of you who know me personally, understand that I don’t mind self-serving some physical and mental hardship occasionally. I’m a veteran, I took the Queens shilling and served with the British Army for 14 years, it made me who I am today and the physical lifestyle has stayed with me, ingrained, even when I transitioned into civilian life.


They say that ‘middle age’, whatever decade that is now, is one of the most difficult periods of your life, raising children, managing a career and caring for ailing parents. Pressures from all angles, that if not managed, can cause mental health issues. I arrived back in the UK from Australia, 2.5 years ago, with my family and 5 suitcases, nowhere to live and no credit history. I returned to support my Dad who was just about to start his first round of treatment for prostate cancer. Giving up my career in Sydney, pulling my 3 boys out of school and asking my wife Carolynn to leave her family behind was a big ask and has tested us all.


I hear daily about mental health, it’s profile has been elevated and deservedly so, however this is a consequence of just how many suffer from it. The workplace is a massive breeding ground for anxiety and stress, time pressures abound, high expectations given the digital tech we surround ourselves with, constantly bombarded with multiple streams of information that need to be digested. It seems to me that society is ever increasing the demands and demonising by some is common place in our 24/7 lives. And this is just the workplace!


My salvation is endurance running through remote and difficult trails, preferably in mountainous areas, 100 miles is not uncommon with big elevating climbs that can take days to complete. These types of events take meticulous planning and training just to get to the start line. My last ‘big event’ in the summer of 2016, took me around the Mont Blanc ‘massif’, through 3 countries, 103 miles with 10,000 metres of climbing over 36 hours non-stop. It took everything from me, physically, emotionally and towards the end I began to hallucinate. I suffered 30+ degree heat during the day, ran across snowfields during the night at altitudes of 2,500 metres and endured a thunder and electrical storm atop one of the last peaks. This event stripped me to my core and perversely I would do it again, even though ‘everything hurt’ and I mean everything.


For me it’s about feeling ‘raw’, getting back to basics and getting back in tune with who we once were as humans, we chased our meals, we ran away from danger, humans are built to run and we’re dam good at it, humans need to keep moving. You don’t need to replicate what I do to achieve the benefits; the biggest step is putting your shoes on and getting out the door.


So why does my workplace prosper? I’m more alert during the day as I sleep better, if I’m sleeping well then my overall mood is boosted. I’m a positive person who always looks optimistically on the world, probably due to the endorphins that are released through my system. I would like to think that my memory is improved (I have no way of measuring this as I’m not prepared to stop running for an experiment). And because I feel ‘happy’ my social behaviour is positive, not to mention the motivation, goal setting, having a purpose and critical thinking that happens, a direct correlation to running and my behaviours in the workplace. I’m less prone to sickness which means more days in the office, a tangible benefit to the business. Confidence is reinforced meaning that any work goal is achievable, we may fall occasionally during a project for example and some would see that as failure, failure is only realised when you refuse to get back up, re-evaluate and crack on. This is what runners do, sheer will and determination is sometimes required in the workplace not just outside on the trails. I could go on and on.


My typical response to any of my colleagues asking me in the morning, ‘How are you Jase’, is ‘Bloody great’ and that is the truth, because I am a runner.


Soon I’ll be enjoying my 50th year and I’m looking for my next ‘stretch’, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m also pleased to say that my Dad is doing well and in remission.


If anyone would like to talk to me about Mental Health and how I manage it through running, then please shout out, we could chat whilst we run.


Ultra-Trail Du Mont Blanc (UTMB)

Queens shilling



When I read Jason’s article, which he originally published on LinkedIn, I thought it would benefit other runners, who may not use LinkedIn.  I therefore asked Jason for his permission to share it, and do so gratefully.  Jason told me that ..”reaching out to as many people as possible about mental health and how we can manage it is SO important”.

Jonathan Hamill


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Night time safety / December club run, Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Catherine and Gareth Smitchard

Well done to everyone who turned out tonight, particularly those who were super luminous, reflective and lit up! Shining bright like diamonds! 

Given the darkened streets we really do recommend people purchase kit that helps them be seen by motorists, cyclists and other pedestrians. To encourage this and in memory of the girls who tragically lost their lives in the recent accident we will be dedicating the next club run to them. We’d like you to invest in (borrow / share) items to keep you safe and wear them ALL on club run night to make our own ‘lumiere’ event on 8th December. A few people had the heel lights on and they were really fab, as were the flashing arm bands. Only a few quid from eBay! Failing that neon clothing / over vests etc are available at reasonable prices – not the most fashionable items but could save a life. 




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Elvet Striders Clamber 2016, Houghall Woods and Low Burnhall, Wednesday, July 27, 2016

5.2 miles


All Clubs
position bib name club time cat cat pos
1 89 Michael Joyeux Quakers Running Club 30.54 M30 1st overall / M30 1st
2 55 Johnathan Evans Jarrow & Hebburn AC 31.21 MSEN 2nd overall/1st MSEN
3 80 Stephen Jackson Elvet Striders 32.29 M30 3rd/1st male strider/M30 2nd
4 52 Liam Emmett Jarrow & Hebburn 32.35 MSEN 2nd MSEN
5 99 Michael Mason Elvet Striders 32.39 M40 1st M40
6 155 Paul Weir 32.57 M40 2nd M40
7 58 Jonathan Gilroy Jarrow & Hebburn AC 34.25 M30 M30 3rd
8 42 Danny Dixon 34.42 MSEN 3rd MSEN
9 62 Callum Greig Run Peterlee 34.48 MSEN
10 136 Alex Sneddon Jarrow & Hebburn AC 35.04 FSEN 1st female/1st FSEN
11 86 Steve Johnson Houghton Harriers & AC 35.25 M40 3rd M40
12 93 Jack Lee Elvet Striders 35.34 MSEN
13 53 Kevin Emmett Jarrow & Hebburn AC 35.36 M50 1st M50
14 61 Rory Graham Houghton Harriers & AC 35.55 MSEN
15 134 Alice Smith Sunderland Harriers & AC 36.15 F30 2nd female/1st F30
16 26 John Collins 36.23 M40
17 144 Gary Thwaites Sedgefield Harriers 36.30 M40
18 152 Mark Warner Elvet Striders 36.39 M30
19 122 Phil Ray Elvet Striders 36.44 M30
20 131 David Shearan Jarrow & Hebburn AC 37.04 M30
21 75 Lee Hetherington South Shields Harriers & AC 37.22 M40
22 95 Elaine Leslie Jarrow & Hebburn AC 37.49 F40 3rd female/F40 1st
23 104 shaun Mcgrath Houghton Harriers & AC 38.02 M50 2nd M50
24 9 Elaine Bisson Elvet Striders 38.40 F30 1st female strider/2nd F30
25 164 Tamsin Imber Elvet Striders 38.50 F40 F40 2nd
26 57 Alan Foster 38.55 M40
27 11 Penny Browell Elvet Striders 39.08 F40 F40 3rd
28 3 Philip Atkinson Birtley AC 39.12 M40
29 108 Patrick McShane Jarrow & Hebburn AC 39.20 M30
30 63 David Gribben Houghton Harriers & AC 39.27 M50 3rd M50
31 156 Dale Wilkinson Sunderland Strollers 39.45 M50
32 147 David Walker Sedgefield Harriers 39.48 M40
33 143 Mick Thornton Jarrow & Hebburn AC 39.53 M50
34 123 Mark Robinson Sunderland Strollers 39.59 M50
35 69 Gary Hargrave Sunderland Strollers 40.22 M40
36 133 Tim Skelton Elvet Striders 40.29 M30
37 33 Malcolm Cox Sunderland Strollers 40.33 M60 M60 1st
38 4 Gary Bailey Run Peterlee 40.37 M40
39 47 Lee Drummond Birtley AC 41.00 M40
40 153 Louise Warner Elvet Striders 41.02 F30 3rd V30
41 142 James Thompson Vegan Runners UK 41.40 M40
42 117 Darren Parks Jarrow & Hebburn AC 41.45 M40
43 94 Malcolm Leece Jarrow & Hebburn AC 41.46 M40
44 115 Steven Outterside Jarrow & Hebburn AC 41.51 M40
45 135 Paul Smith Crook & District AC 41.52 M50
46 113 Melvyn Olley Washington Running Club 41.58 M40
47 105 Allan Mcmanus Sunderland Harriers & AC 41.59 M30
48 64 Gareth Hamblin Sedgefield Harriers 42.02 M30
49 8 Mike Bennett Elvet Striders 42.03 M60 M60 2nd
50 56 Steve Foreman Sedgefield Harriers 42.25 M40
51 17 Kevin Carrahar Sunderland Harriers & AC 42.39 M50
52 78 Brian Hurst Jarrow & Hebburn AC 42.53 M40
53 32 Vikki Cotton Sunderland Harriers & AC 42.54 F30
54 106 Michael Mcnally Jarrow & Hebburn AC 42.55 M50
55 140 Jason Taylor Blackhill Bounders 43.18 M40
56 34 Rob Craig Sunderland Strollers 43.29 M50
57 39 Sarah Davies Elvet Striders 43.50 F40
58 109 Stephen Mills Crook & District AC 43.54 M40
59 82 Laura Jennings Elvet Striders 44.42 FSEN 2nd FSEN
60 107 Tony McNeill Durham City Harriers & AC 44.45 M50
61 161 Nicola Woodward Sunderland Harriers & AC 44.47 F30
62 100 Rachelle Mason Elvet Striders 44.51 F30
63 35 Matthew Crow Hunwick Harriers 45.11 MSEN
64 36 Vanessa Cutter Gateshead Harriers & AC 45.26 F30
65 150 Jane Wallace 45.26 F40
66 163 Tim Matthews Elvet Striders 45.30 M50
67 149 Michael Wallace Sunderland Strollers 45.32 M40
68 59 Joe Glancy Sunderland Strollers 45.33 M50
69 91 Bill Kirk Sunderland Strollers 45.36 M60 M60 3rd
70 121 Nicola Race Hunwick harriers 45.42 F40
71 110 Adam Morton 45.49 M30
72 90 Peter King 45.50 M40
73 1 Stephen Allen Sunderland Strollers 45.53 M30
74 166 Lesley Charman Elvet Striders 45.59 M40
75 29 Anthony Corbett Quakers Running Club 46.19 M50
76 148 Marie Walker Sedgefield Harriers 46.24 F40
77 111 Louise Morton Elvet Striders 46.38 F30
78 38 Andrew Davies Elvet Striders 46.39 M40
79 154 Rosie Warnett Sedgefield Harriers 46.45 F30
80 116 Percy Parkin Crook & District AC 46.48 M70 M70 1st
81 146 Diane Vaughan Quakers Running Club 46.52 F50 F50 1st
82 28 Katherine Conway Washington Running Club 46.54 F30
83 15 Jo Carnie Steel City Striders RC 46.56 F40
84 77 Richard Hughes Quakers Running Club 47.13 M40
85 139 Yvonne Storey Tyne Bridge Harriers 47.19 F40
86 83 Nina Jensen Claremont Road Runners 47.26 F40
87 145 Frances Timson Elvet Striders 47.27 F30
88 102 Stephen McCoy Sunderland Strollers 47.40 M40
89 72 Christine Hearmon Sedgefield Harriers 47.55 F50 F50 2nd
90 112 Sam Newington Durham City Harriers & AC 48.12 F40
91 114 Michelle O’Neill Sunderland Strollers 48.21 F40
92 14 Amanda Cable Low Fell Running Club 48.31 F40
93 51 Steve Ellis Elvet Striders 48.41 M60
94 65 Lesley Hamill Elvet Striders 48.44 F40
95 126 David Round Sedgefield Harriers 48.55 M50
96 44 Garry Douglass 48.58 M30
97 84 Marsha Jobling Jarrow & Hebburn AC 48.59 F40
98 71 Peter Hart Elvet Striders 49.20 M30
99 23 Mark Colling Quakers Running Club 49.31 M40
100 24 Wendy Colling Quakers Running Club 49.31 F50 F50 3rd
101 124 Mick Robson 49.39 M40
102 85 Hazel Johnson Shildon Running & AC 49.42 F40
103 88 Debbie Jones Elvet Striders 49.55 F40
104 30 April Corbett Quakers Running Club 50.10 F40
105 132 Chris Shearsmith Elvet Striders 50.27 M30
106 128 Jill Rudkin Elvet Striders 50.33 F40
107 60 Nicola Gloyne Blackhill Bounders 50.51 F30
108 48 Lyndsay Duffy Billingham Marsh House Harriers 51.16 FSEN 3rd FSEN
109 66 Anna Hardy Quakers Running Club 51.17 F40
110 25 Alex Collins Elvet Striders 51.24 M30
111 127 Ian Rudge Shildon Running & AC 51.41 M40
112 101 Giles McCourt Sunderland Strollers 51.43 M30
113 37 Andrew Darling 51.52 M30
114 49 Nick Dunk Witham Runners 51.52 M40
115 98 John Martin 51.52 M40
116 54 Tracey Emmett Jarrow & Hebburn AC 52.27 F40
117 160 Fiona Wood Elvet Striders 52.31 F30
118 87 Chloe Johnston Sunderland Strollers 52.48 FSEN
119 18 Sandra Cass Quakers Running Club 52.56 F50
120 31 Andrew Corfield Sedgefield Harriers 53.39 M40
121 21 Michelle Coleman Elswick Harriers 53.51 F40
122 20 Martin Colborn Run Peterlee 54.10 M40
123 119 Ashley Price-Sabate Elvet Striders 54.21 F40
124 158 Richard Wilson Sunderland Strollers 54.50 M60
125 73 Angus Hearmon Sedgefield Harriers 54.57 M60
126 92 Anne Kirk Sunderland Strollers 54.59 F50
127 68 Denis Hargrave Sunderland Strollers 55.02 M70
128 13 Angela Tribe Elvet Striders 55.15 F40
129 5 Laura Beacham Elvet Striders 55.29 FSEN
130 125 James Ross Shildon Running & AC 55.36 M50
131 129 Leanne Salem Claremont Road Runners 55.59 F30
132 41 Rebecca Devine Elvet Striders 56.25 FSEN
133 162 Jill Young Elvet Striders 56.28 F30
134 50 Jan Ellis Elvet Striders 56.33 F50
135 103 Debbie McFarland Elvet Striders 56.36 FSEN
136 22 Kelly Collier Elvet Striders 56.50 F30
137 67 Anna Hargrave Sunderland Strollers 57.34 F40
138 76 karen Hooper Elvet Striders 57.38 F40
139 70 Victoria Harrison Tyne Bridge Harriers 57.52 F30
140 96 David Little Shildon Running & AC 59.27 M30
141 16 Nicola Carr Sunderland Strollers 59.36 F40
142 27 Jill Connolly Sunderland Strollers 59.36 F50
143 165 Kirsty Mcsween Sunderland Strollers 59.36 F30
144 81 Sara James Tyne Bridge Harriers 60.44 F30
145 118 Judith Porter Aycliffe Running Club 60.47 F60 1st F60
146 157 Jack Wilson Sunderland Strollers 61.39 M60
147 46 Jane Dowsett Elvet Striders 61.44 F40
148 19 Carla Clarke Elvet Striders 61.50 F30
149 7 Emily Beaumont Quakers Running Club 66.24 F30
150 40 Katie Davison Elvet Striders 71.02 FSEN
151 137 Diane Soulsby Elvet Striders 71.05 F50
152 130 David Sawyer Sedgefield Harriers 72.20 M40
153 43 Michelle Donnellly Sunderland Strollers 72.33 F40

153 finishers.

Elvet Striders Only
position bib name time cat cat pos
1 89 Michael Joyeux (Quakers Running Club) 30.54 M30 1st overall/M30 1st
3 80 Stephen Jackson 32.29 M30 3rd/1st male strider/M30 2nd
5 99 Michael Mason 32.39 M40 1st M40
10 136 Alex Sneddon (Jarrow & Hebburn AC) 35.04 FSEN 1st female/1st FSEN
12 93 Jack Lee 35.34 MSEN
18 152 Mark Warner 36.39 M30
19 122 Phil Ray 36.44 M30
24 9 Elaine Bisson 38.40 F30 1st female strider/2nd F30
25 164 Tamsin Imber 38.50 F40 F40 2nd
27 11 Penny Browell 39.08 F40 F40 3rd
36 133 Tim Skelton 40.29 M30
40 153 Louise Warner 41.02 F30 3rd V30
49 8 Mike Bennett 42.03 M60 M60 2nd
57 39 Sarah Davies 43.50 F40
59 82 Laura Jennings 44.42 FSEN 2nd FSEN
62 100 Rachelle Mason 44.51 F30
66 163 Tim Matthews 45.30 M50
74 166 Lesley Charman 45.59 M40
77 111 Louise Morton 46.38 F30
78 38 Andrew Davies 46.39 M40
87 145 Frances Timson 47.27 F30
93 51 Steve Ellis 48.41 M60
94 65 Lesley Hamill 48.44 F40
98 71 Peter Hart 49.20 M30
103 88 Debbie Jones 49.55 F40
105 132 Chris Shearsmith 50.27 M30
106 128 Jill Rudkin 50.33 F40
110 25 Alex Collins 51.24 M30
117 160 Fiona Wood 52.31 F30
123 119 Ashley Price-Sabate 54.21 F40
128 13 Angela Tribe 55.15 F40
129 5 Laura Beacham 55.29 FSEN
132 41 Rebecca Devine 56.25 FSEN
133 162 Jill Young 56.28 F30
134 50 Jan Ellis 56.33 F50
135 103 Debbie McFarland 56.36 FSEN
136 22 Kelly Collier 56.50 F30
138 76 karen Hooper 57.38 F40
147 46 Jane Dowsett 61.44 F40
148 19 Carla Clarke 61.50 F30
150 40 Katie Davison 71.02 FSEN
151 137 Diane Soulsby 71.05 F50

153 finishers.

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Pennine Way Charity Relay 2015, Pennine Way, Friday, July 24, 2015

Anita Clementson

Northern Section: Friday Leg 2 – Byrness to Bellingham – 15.5 miles – with Diane Watson

Anita and Diane running toward the finish of their leg on Bellingham Bridge As we waited for the arrival of Kerry & James, our northern leg 1 runners, we took the advantage of having tea in the local inn and gaining some inside knowledge on the route ahead. On asking the rather grumpy woman at the inn, she took a long breath and turned her head slowly to the clock, then looked back at us: “are you planning to do this today?” We were obviously not giving her the impression of experienced fell types that were capable of tackling 15 miles of the boggiest part of the Pennine way (a feature she was also keen to warn us about).

Luckily we managed to regain some positivity and returned to wait patiently at the checkpoint. Text messaging allowed us to get some idea of Kerry & James’ progress. In the meantime we had a leisurely chat with a guy who had nearly finished his 18-day walk of the whole PW and then there were Kerry & James, bounding along looking quite fresh after their epic 25-mile first leg trek.

So Diane and I were finally on our way! Navigation was required for the first half of what was a fairly undulating but not too hilly route. Luckily there had been plenty of time to study our OS map and so we had more or less memorised the route ahead.

Due to the delay and the fact that we didn’t want to arrive too late for Scott, who was waiting to take over at Bellingham (we were nearing 3 hours behind schedule) we took the option of missing out the boggiest part of our section (we were also warned about this by two people we met) but had to add an extra half mile of easier ground. It wasn’t an easy decision, and it would have been nice to just follow the course of the PW but common sense took precedence. As a result, the ‘baton’ [or ‘map’ as it also known – Ed] was passed on safely at the bridge over the North Tyne in pretty Bellingham, pausing only to take some photos, before Scott was on his way…our job was done!

We encountered only beautiful scenery and a slightly surreal sense of being a little part of a much bigger event knowing that all of our friends in the club were with us in spirit and that we were making our mark in the history of the club.

Karen Hooper

Central Section: Sunday Leg 5 – Sunderland Bridge to Palace Green – 10 miles

Elvet Striders Relay Runners on Palace Green at the end of a successful 2015 Charity Relay We ran through armpit-high thistles with our arms in the air, got rashes from foot to shoulder from the long grass…I spoke to Striders I had never spoken to before…I turned round and saw a whole tribe of purple behind me in the beautiful countryside…I weed in a field with someone I’d only spoken to once before who I’m now proud to call a friend…I talked about the sadness of losing babies and the support that 4Louis provide to bereaved families with a total stranger…I cheered Striders running further than they’ve ever run before…I enjoyed meat pie and a pint with new friends in The Elm Tree and shed a tear at Paul’s speech. Thank you Striders – it was just what we all needed! X

Dave Shipman’s white van

Southern Section: Friday, Saturday & Sunday – Support

Dave and Jan about to set off the leg to Pen-Y-Ghent Thursday 6.30 am: Contents being removed including old lawnmower and box of unsold car boot stuff which I have carried round for ages. Must be an expedition coming soon? Parked up next to house, suspect we will head off after work?

Thursday 5.30 pm: I was right: all surfaces hastily cleaned and bags of kit thrown in.

Thursday 6 pm: ‘Driver D’ joined by ‘Kiwi Mike’ (with no dog this time, but several more bags and a tent). Off we go!

Thursday 6.30 pm: Durham City, pick up ‘Lady J’ (must be in for a long trip if the number of bags she has are anything to go by!).

Thursday 8.30 pm: Got through all the road works (and avoided running out of petrol) to Woolley Edge services. Joined by Driver D’s double, known as ‘Our Kid’ apparently – and yet more bags!

Thursday 9.30 pm: Fiddly, wiggly roads to the campsite. Abandoned in car park for the night – typical!

Friday 5.30 am: Kettle on – bloody hell, this is an early start! Joined by what looks like a black coffin -carrier but on investigation it’s a multi-purpose removal estate car on its way back from an end-of term university visit – my sympathies, done that run a few times! Mobile catering function required for several sleepy campers after what they describe as a snore-interrupted night (nothing to do with the beers they drank before bedtime then?).

Friday 5.55 am: Bleary-eyed bloke carrying two rucksacks approaches; also has what he calls ‘a tent’; looks more like a full-body condom to me! All goes in through the back door; he sets off running and away we go!

Friday 12.00 noon: After several hours hurtling over hill and dale, parked at length on the end of Saddleworth Moor. No sign of Kiwi Mike. Eventually he arrives after losing his way but by then I’ve moved on to Yorkshire where I’m joined by a red Honda Jazz and two more runners with lots of kit bags.

Friday afternoon: Yippee! Into Calderdale relay country after ‘Pirate Nige’ (the driver of the black coffin-carrier) and Lady J (she of the many bags) have been off-piste looking for hairy sausage caterpillars! Familiar roads and hills that I’ve been round a few times.

Friday night 8.00 pm: Make it to Malham before nightfall as required but then drive backwards and forwards on narrow, stone-walled lanes looking for Moon’s Farm campsite. Find two campsites but not of that name and eventually work out that it’s the one at the foot of Malham Cove. Joined by a red Golf and red Polo, so relay convoy status is now established. No room on the campsite but Mrs Moon kindly lets me use her car park, assisted by red Golf moving over to give me breathing space which I need after the last 24 hours!

Saturday 7.00 am: Mobile catering required again: runners seem even more bleary-eyed but still enthusiastic. Bags, damp tents and sweaty kit thrown in the back, along with an assortment of food and drink.

Saturday 8.15 am: Runners set off in beautiful sunshine. I get my insides swept out and Kiwi Mike beats my carpets – first time in a long time!

Saturday 8.30 am: Off for a beautiful trip round the Dales: up to Arncliffe, down both sides of Pen Y Ghent seeking runners on the move with no success. Then to Horton where I’m left in a pub car park but am eventually rescued by Kiwi Mike.

Saturday 2.00 pm: After being abandoned for a couple of hours in Hawes, found by Driver D and ‘Chatterbox Jan’, both looking sweaty and weary but with bags of food and drink and off we go again.

Saturday 6.00 pm: On the road for ages, over Butter Tubs Pass, people in and out, stops at Tan Hill, a tunnel under the A66, supposed to be heading for near Middleton but left parked next to a barn: sign says “To be kept clear at all times” so I will probably get towed away by a tractor! Passengers seem intent on standing in a field with cows, staring for over an hour at a distant horizon. Farmer arrives and doesn’t tow me away, instead gives friendly advice about how savage cows can be then, once the red Polo has been moved, farmer drives off up track. Eventually runners appear, pause briefly for water from my diminishing supplies then head off up the track after the farmer.

Facing up to 'savage' cows was all part of the challenge!

Saturday 8 pm: At last! A campsite instead of a car park! Company of other vans and tents; passengers have all gone to the pub; night may not end well!

Saturday 10 pm: As I suspected, a crowd of folk have returned to use my lounge facilities: Kiwi Mike brings out cake; ‘Party Jean’ finds a bottle of Amaretto left over from Xmas; rattling bags of cider and beer come from cupboards and rucksacks. Remarkably, peace and quiet by midnight.

Sunday 7.30 am: Breakfast time again: folk seem more bleary and tired, less energetic until joined by ‘Tigga Till’ and Joan who set off up the hills. Random packing follows before I head for Wolsingham Station via Bollihope Common and across the moors. Apart from our convoy, there’s hardly any traffic and no people.

Sunday 12.00 noon: Tigga Till and Joan arrive at the station, no trains running, so join us for a drive to Witton Park where I am left on my own for hours by the side of Paradise Park (an over-generous description when compared to the scenery I have been through in the last 48 hours!). Seemingly, Bleary-eyed Paul, Pirate Nige and Lady J got lost in the long grass!

Sunday 1.00 pm: Diversion to Newton Cap Viaduct seeking ‘Captain Anna’, who in turn was seeking Kiwi Mike; no sign of either so on to Willington…

Sunday 1.20 pm: Willington: amazing crowd of runners, all waiting for Kiwi Mike, none with bags and none needing a lift thank goodness! All say they are running to Durham.

Sunday 2.30 pm: Sizeable group head for Durham; party atmosphere. Kiwi Mike leaves me near Durham Rowing Club and heads off with Bleary-eyed Paul to do yet more running.

Sunday 5.30 pm: Kiwi Mike and Driver D return in pouring rain but good spirits. Appears that the trip has been a great success!

Sunday 5.45 pm: Parked up in Chester-le Street; over 450 miles covered; job done! Kiwi Mike and Driver D remove a few bags of kit and walk away. Wait a minute! Come back! What about the bags of wet and sweaty kit? What about the soggy bananas and left over cake crumbs, half-eaten sandwiches and water bottles? And who do these red boxer shorts belong to?!!

Penny Browell

Southern section: Friday Legs 5 & 8; Saturday Leg 1; Sunday Legs 4 & 5

Penny, Paul & Steph come together for an almost nocturnal 'selfie'.

Friday, Leg 8 – Ickornshaw to East Marton – 9 miles – with Paul Evans: having said I probably shouldn’t run at all (dodgy ankle making me whinge a lot), I decided I wasn’t content with the 10-miler earlier with Steph and Paul so volunteered to take on what turned out to be the final leg of the evening. I was told it was easy-ish and not too long (which I guess is what 9 miles and 1,250 feet is for Paul Evans!). But even he was tired (after more than 20 miles) and the climbs seemed bigger than they should have been and whilst it was lovely to see the sun setting from a perfect viewpoint it was also a bit nerve-wracking as we had no head-torches and there were still a few miles to go.

More worrying though, were the cows, one of which seemed to take a dislike to me and after a little lurch, started heading towards me. Paul recommended jumping over the fence but as it was about shoulder height for me – with barbed wire on the top – I didn’t rate my chances! To cut a long story short, we managed to escape unscathed but still had to race the light to reach East Marton by nightfall.

When we got to the canal we knew we were nearly there but when a slight edge of doubt crept in to Paul’s voice I was beginning to get a bit concerned. Then I spotted a lonely beam of light flickering in the darkness ahead – it was Steph! Come in search of us! And so, just before 10.00 pm, our leg was done. Sadly too late for the pub dinner I’d promised myself but still leaving me with a very content smile on my face.

Juliet Percival

Southern section: Friday Legs 2, 3 & 7; Saturday Legs 4, 5 & 6; Sunday Leg 2

Juliet in a 'weary legs' phase! As I write this, the three days of the southern legs are now a blur of…chilly dawns…hurried muesli…squeezing wet tents back into bags…driving…plodding…eating cake…driving…running…wonderful views…eating cake…running…endless views of rolling green hills and patchwork fields…waiting…cheering and clapping for smiling Striders out in force…drinking coffee…wonderful company…running…weary legs…waiting…runners’ heads bobbing up over the horizon…dreaming (of a hot shower)…drinking coffee… “there they are!” …running…COWS!…”what if it’s a bull?”…slow to a walk…eyes down…be invisible… beautiful, peaceful countyside…lovely banter…”how many more miles?” …getting late…pitching tents in the dark (hilarious!)…racing to the pub (too late for food)…crisps and alcohol for supper again!…”another round?”…”why not!” …returning to campsites in the dark…no showers…grim…feeling stinky…sleeping bags…overtures of snoring…chilly dawns (again)…hurried muesli…”off we go”…”

Roz Layton

Northern section: Saturday Leg 3 – Knarsdale to Garrigill – 14 miles – with Debs Goddard & Jean Bradley

Nothing could be nicer than standing in the middle of unfamiliar countryside on the Cumbrian/Durham border on a warm day, surrounded by orchids, harebells, cranesbill and buzzing insects. Just a nagging worry affects the mood: where are they? Are they OK? Have I missed them?

Thank goodness for a good phone signal and Debs’ clear decision-making (…leave Alston, come and meet her and Jean further up the route at Knarsdale). This turned out to be an abandoned station on the old South Tyne railway, with platform, an old ticket office and signs threatening forty shilling fines…

It wasn’t long before Debs and Jean came trotting along the track, cheerful but a bit frustrated by the disappearing Pennine Way ‘acorns’ [motif that indicates the Pennine Way trail – Ed]. So much for the Pennine Way becoming an eroded motorway then – even when we could find the route it was often overgrown!

Jean and I could only admire the map and its reader as we were ‘spectacle-free’ and so we continued, skirting Slaggyford happily enough but losing time as what ‘acorns’ there were led us over stiles and into fields with no apparent exit. On one occasion we found ourselves face to face with a herd of cows and their calves and – yes – climbing to his feet as we approached, a big creamy bull guarding the gateway!

Alston to Garrigill had less drama but was just as pretty. We anticipated ‘lashings and lashings of ginger beer’ but a wonderful half-pint outside the newly refurbished pub won out, underscoring the satisfaction of running twice as far as I’d expected and the ‘Striderly’ pleasure of running with good friends.

Mike Elliott

Northern Section: Saturday Leg 6 – Cauldron Snout to Holwick – 9 miles – with Andy James.

Mike makes the awkward descent of the waterfall of Cauldron Snout.

After doing ‘Park Run’ in the morning I checked my OS Teesdale map of early-60s vintage that didn’t even show the Tees being dammed at Cauldron Snout to form Cow Green Reservoir (luckily the contours were in the same place however). I then joined Andy at Ebchester for the drive to the start of the final northern leg of our charity relay, arriving there about 4.00 pm for an estimated start time of 5.30 pm. No other Striders were in sight but it was early days…

The weather was sunny: 14 degrees with a gentle breeze but then a black cloud appeared, bringing heavy vertical, then horizontal, rain and HAIL! (Was this July?). So, like the sheep around us, we sheltered behind a stone wall (baaa!). The storm passed, the sun came out again and we soon dried out.

By about 6.00 pm we concluded that with no one else was going to join us, and that we might have missed a ‘relay running late’ message. Miraculously, we found a sign near the dam which said ‘GOOD MOBILE PHONE SIGNAL HERE’ (move one yard either way – no signal!) and called Steph who said Jon Ayres was on his way from Dufton and should be with us in an hour and a half. Being the good civil and electrical engineers that we are, off we went to explore the dam and its water pressure measuring boreholes, generators and anything else we could find (howay, it filled in the time!).

To our delight, Jon arrived a tad early from his magnificent solo effort across the tops and after sharing info and pleasantries, his legs then had the luxury of driving Andy’s car to Bowlees visitor centre.

Still no more troops, so off we went, down the side of Cauldron Snout and onto the rock-strewn paths of the Falcon Clints’ boulder field (could have been on the moon) along with the odd board-walk then eventually onto something vaguely runnable. This was not going to be a 10K PB!

The first half of the leg was on the north bank of the River Tees (the south bank appeared to be marked on the map as an MOD training area). After the tribulations of the Clints and Holmwath Escarpments, we arrived at Widdy Bank Farm where we could at last make good progress after our mountaineering experiences. Then we saw the sign that said it all: three and a half miles back to Cauldron Snout, three and three-quarters to High Force. HEY UP – we thought this was a 10K!

Across ditches, and through stones walls via little wooden gates, across the bridge over Harwood Beck, then crossing to the south side of the River Tees at Cronkley, then onto a wide track for 400yards (which made us look like models on a cat walk).

Next was a trip around a farm yard (no Old Macdonald or quarter-pounder’s to be seen) where we encountered a problem due to the lack of way markers: options were to follow a boggy fence line, climb a steep hill covered in gorse or back-track towards the MOD area. We chose to climb the hill (probably a short cut to dry ground but slightly longer) until we hit the PW again.

Next obstacle was a barbed wire-topped fence where we put our high jump skills to the test (gold medals being awarded to both participants). Then it was back down to low ground to see some friendly faces albeit a flock of sheep (who decided not to follow us due to the fact they were not as fit as us athletes!).

At last we hit a reasonable track, so, putting more coal on the fire, we reeled in the miles to High Force. What a long three and three-quarter country miles that was (must have been all those photo stops)! A quick decision not to dive into the cold, fast flowing, peaty waters at High Force then we pushed on to Low Force and Wynch Bridge (a suspension footbridge built for lead miners in 1830).

Here we saw a poster nailed to a tree saying Strathmore Arms, 1 mile – nectar! In the heather we caught a glimpse of a young ‘Monarch of the Glen’ [a deer – Ed] scratching its lug at the sound of these two explorers; he then showed us how to cope with cross county hills by bounding away.

Onwards across the quickly darkening fields with Andy’s phone shattering the quiet of the countryside. It was Paul asking if we are still alive and what our favourite tipple is! Back to tarmac and the comforting lights of Holwick (or IS it Holwick? – No sign of a pub and only a few well strung out houses – have we got the wrong village? – We stop and knock on the door of a house at 10.00 pm – “Where is the Strathmore Arms?” – “Just there love” – relief!).

Finally, after two-and-a-half hours, we receive the most rousing of receptions from the locals and many of the lads and lasses who ran the Southern and rest of the Northern legs. Then it was into the pub with just enough time to embrace everyone in sight, hoy a pint down our necks (courtesy of the landlord) and enjoy the band.

The campers then made their way to bed so they could be fresh, waiting for Paul’s foreign accent to ring out at 7.00 am: “Hi de hi campers, your breakfast is ready and no cooking required: IT’S IN A CAN!”.

We intrepid explorers continued our adventures: a one-and-a-half mile cross-country walk to the car (thanks for the torch Nigel) and then over the dales to Ebchester. I never knew rabbits came out in such numbers at night, with the journey being a rabbit slalom course (we managed it without harming any, so rabbit pie was off the Sunday menu).

Hope you enjoyed the above tale. It could have been the tail of Peter………..Oh come on, they don’t get any better!

Joan Hanson

Central Section: Sunday Leg 1 – Holwick to Wolsingham – 16 miles – with Till Sawala.

Me and Tigger Till strike out for Wolsingham Today I picked up a total stranger that I met via a Facebook message then got quietly freaked out on arrival at the campsite at 8am to be told by fellow bleary-eyed striders that Till can run…didn’t you realise Joan?.. really quite fast…sub 3-hour marathon actually. Till then proceeded to run ‘really quite fast’ although he referred to it as ‘relaxed social pace’. He was certainly able to converse with ease as he bounced along beside me in his Hokas (quite a lot like Tigger) consistently up a big hill, then on tarmac (that’s another first). Words of encouragement were offered by a convoy of the aforementioned striders in their cars before we struck out over the moors and down into Weardale. We took slightly longer than the 2 hours on the original schedule for this leg but had a great morning out and we didn’t get lost.

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Elvet Striders Clamber 2015, Houghall Woods and Low Burnhall, Wednesday, July 22, 2015

5.2 miles

Another sunny evening and some great racing last night. It looked hot and tough from where I was standing taking photos around the Willow Miner. Till’s also got a great batch on Facebook, and there’s a nice write-up in the Northern Echo.


position bib name club cat cat pos time prize
1 55 Liam Emmett Jarrow & Hebburn MU20 1 31.28 1st male/1st U20
16 104 Lucy Butt Durham City Harriers FSEN 1 38.32 1st female/1st female senior
5 94 Stephen Jackson M30 2 34.28 1st strider male
21 15 Elaine Bisson F30 1 39.18 2nd female/1st female F20/1st strider female
22 18 Penny Browell F40 1 39.38 3rd female/1st V40 female
24 32 John Coulson M30 5 40.33
25 12 Mike Bennett M60 1 40.36 1st male V60
27 149 Katy Walton F30 2 40.49
34 150 Louise Warner F30 4 42.39
48 37 Sarah Davies F40 3 43.52
51 13 Adam Bent M60 2 44.22
56 134 Malcolm Sygrove M40 18 44.33
60 6 Gareth Neil M30 11 44.46
71 135 Kathryn Sygrove F40 6 45.50
72 70 Debs Goddard F40 7 46.05
77 89 Melanie Hudson F30 9 46.40
79 121 Stephanie Piper FSEN 2 47.03
81 142 Roz Layton F60 1 47.22 1st female F60
86 126 Jill Rudkin F30 10 48.08
90 33 Jenny Search F30 11 48.43
95 133 Ian Spencer M50 14 50.37
98 78 Lesley Hamill F40 13 50.47
104 130 David Shipman M50 16 52.08
107 58 Sarah Fawcett F50 4 52.57
108 17 Stacey Brannan F30 15 53.00
110 144 Angela Tribe F40 16 53.07
111 86 Lucy Herkes MSEN 4 53.32
115 52 Stephen Ellis M60 5 53.58
116 42 Rebecca Devine FSEN 3 54.25
117 14 Denise Benvin F40 17 54.32
118 131 Alan Smith M65 2 54.44
127 88 Karen Hooper F30 19 58.10
128 129 Aileen Scott F40 19 59.02
129 51 Janet Ellis F50 7 59.03
133 9 Kerry Barnett F40 20 62.03
134 41 Sophie Dennis FSEN 5 62.53
135 161 Lindsay Craig F40 21 62.57
138 65 Laura Gibson F30 20 64.26
139 96 Natalie Johnson F30 21 64.27

140 finishers.

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Harrogate to Durham Charity Relay 2013, 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.

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Windermere to Wear Relay 2012, Saturday, June 23, 2012

David Shipman, Nigel Heppell, David Catterick, Danny Lim

First, David Shipman…

To kick off the Charity relay Mike Bennett and I left Chester-le-Street at 6am heading for Bowness, spurred on by texts from Geoff which said in sequence 1.It’s very, very wet 2. It’s blowing a gale and we may have to review the bike ride leg 3. Great North Swim is cancelled. Only the third one, whilst a real disappointment for the club members planning on swimming, was positive for us, as it meant there would be less traffic and less commotion around Bowness.

Striders at the finish

…and now Nigel Heppell…

Leg 1: Windermere to Staveley, 5.74M

Atrocious weather for late June meant the postponement of the Great North Swim which was fortunate for us as we had chosen to meet in one of the designated car parks for that event. As it turned out, there was no shortage of parking space and the only sign of activity was a lone street-sweeping machine sending up a bow wave as it sloshed through the surface water.

Just before 9am the rain eased off and Dave S, Mike B and Benjy saw Nigel H and Geoff W dip a toe in the water of Windermere before setting off on leg 1 from the ferry landings at the western end of the Dales Way long distance path.

We had only gone a few hundred meters through town when I was surprised to see Geoff accost some poor girl struggling up the hill under a loaded rucksack and grab a quick embrace – it turns out that they do know each other! On and up we went to find the first bit of off-road track that led through some very scenic undulating countryside. Water featured large at every twist and turn, if we weren’t dodging puddles we were getting soaked from sodden grasses and nettles that had handily sagged over the track under the weight of rainwater in a most refreshing manner. All gullies, gutters, streams and rivers were alive with fast-flowing water.

It soon transpired that we had picked up the wrong map for this leg but decided to continue on memory and relying on this well-defined route to be well marked, which it was; most of the time; but not always. At one farmstead we spent a few minutes wondering which of two tracks to take before deciding on the one with slightly more bent grass. This could have been an illusion but turned out to be the right choice as we picked up the Dales Way signs several fields further on. There seemed to be a lot of cattle in the fields in this area, most of them with calves in tow, and in light of recent events in other parts of the country Geoff and I formulated a plan such that if we were pursued by an irate mother(I’m talking about the cows now, not the earlier incident in town) to sprint ahead together before each making a 90 degree turn in opposite directions at the last moment and in that way giving ouselves a 50/50 chance to avoid being pounded into the fellside mud.

And that is how it continued; up, down, left, right, until passing under the railway bridge at Staveley pretty much on time to meet once again with Dave and Mike who set off on Leg 2.

Leg 3: Grayrigg to Sedbergh, 8.31M

Geoff had obviously had enough of me by the time it came to start leg 3 as he swopped with Mike B who elected to continue straight through from leg 2 – two long legs together; quite appropriate really. This time we made sure we had the right map but I have to confess that neither of us had really studied it beforehand so there were regular halts to check that we were still on the correct route. Even so there were several places where the track seemed to dematerialise and no amount of staring at the map made any difference. Annoyingly, on the map someone had put a lot of red blobs along the relay route and some of the fine detail was obscured. Consequently we would enter a field at a Dales Way stile only to find ourselves trying to find a way through barbed wire fencing a few hundred metres further on. Likewise, near Beckfoot, on the map the Dales Way joined a road for (apparently) 100m before heading off onto a track on the other side of the road; could we find it? err, no, and so a long road leg followed which usefully helped bring us closer to schedule which had slipped a bit by this time. We lost the route later on at Branthwaite too.

Where the road from Beckfoot meets the River Lune there is a stunningly pretty collection of stone buildings and beautifully tended cottage gardens set off by a cascade of waterfalls(splendidly full today) and an old mill. The Dales Way continues along the banks of the Lune for a couple of kilometres before deviating uphill through Thwaite, Bramaskew and Branthwaite; each of these is a farmstead and the Dales Way passes right through the farmyard. Off to one side the bulk of the Howgills hills looked impressive with a dark cloud base skimming the tops. Somewhere shortly after the last of these buildings, although we were following what seemed to be the only well-defined track with public right-of-way signs, it became obvious we were once again going off-piste as the route was set to drop back down to the riverside when in fact we should have been ‘contouring’. Mike and I were tired by now and we decided to compromise by following a long-disused railway line rather than climb back uphill. Not marked as a right of way, the old line was still equipped with stiles where there were fences and made good running on the grassy surface kept short by sheep and rabbits until we came to a completely overgrown bridge that could not be passed.

From here we picked up a lane and soon joined the A684 main road for a steady jog and a bit of traffic-dodging over a couple of kilometres into Sedbergh where we were met by Jan and Benji just as the heavens opened and it began to pour down.

…back to David…

Carrot Cake by Candlelight anyone?

Sixteen hours later we were outside the Tan Hill Pub, trying to work out how 3 men, a dog, 6 sets of wet kit, 3 bags of food and 3 bags of clothes/camping gear/wet running shoes could fit into my campervan, as the gales were still blowing and Mike and Geoff had decided that pitching tents was not an option. Paul Gibson made the same decision earlier – not sure if it was chivalry or cowardice, but, faced by the scene of several flattened tents held down by stones, he volunteered to drive Mandy and Louise back to Cowgill and then home to comfy beds and dry surroundings, on condition that they all returned for leg 8 on Sunday.

We had survived running and cycling in horrendous conditions,we had placated Scarey Mary serving food in the pub,all meekly agreeing to have mash even though we had all ordered chips. We had enjoyed good company, a few beers, live music and George doing his fundraising bit with the Olympic Torch – how that worked its magic, with young and old all wanting a photo or a hold – but how would we get through the night?

Frantic piling up of gear ensued,in darkness apart from 2 headtorches and a candle on the front dash board, with the van swaying constantly as the wind and rain continued. Detailed negotiation established the boundaries – I am having a bed (me). I will need to get to the loo during the night (me). I will sleep anywhere as long as its not out there (Geoff). I don’t think I snore(Mike). I am happy to sleep with the dog (Mike).

In the end we were sorted,gear piled up to the van roof in every available space,Geoff and I “top and tailing” on the bed ,Mike in the front passenger seat in full recline,Benji (the dog) on the floor under the dashboard,with enough space to allow access to the loo and stove,comfortable enough for Mike to reveal a large slab of homemade carrot cake which we washed down with hot tea. Sleep was fitful, my trips to the loo, the continuing storms, the noisy party in the pub, 3 men and a dog tossing and turning in a very confined space and a strange, damp, soggy odour permeating the van, which strangely got worse and worse as the weekend progressed.

By daybreak the whole place smelt like a bag of ferrets, the van doors were flung open and under a blue sky with no rain we breakfasted al fresco in the company of two of Geoff’s friends, a pair of tame sheep who apparently grew up by the fire inside the pub. A good job he hadn’t met them the night before, as I haven’t a clue how we could have fitted them in as well!!

…and now David Catterick…

Leg 9: Eggleston to The Grove (Hamsterley), 5.77M

Arrived at Eggleston on a dry Sunday morning to meet a rough looking lot. (Apparently it rained yesterday). The plan was to run over the Dales to The Grove with Will. This I was looking forward to as I hoped to pick up some fell navigation skills (licking fingers, navigating by the sun etc etc). Well, Will arrived and announced that he was going to push his son`s bike up the hills (good handicap I thought) but it turned out the terrain was too bad.

Off we went. It was then that Will announced that his faithful GPS had just broken (What GPS?!) So it was down to good old map reading after all. Anyway, after we got lost and tracked back, we had a lovely run down into Hamsterley to meet up once again with the motley crew.

Leg 10: The Grove to Wolsingham, 5.17M

This time I ran with Barry Bird. Barry joined the Striders 25 years ago when he was 21. As we ran I learned a bit about the history of the club. This chit-chat distracted us from the Doctors Gate climb. Where was the nice cool rain when you need it? (More later!). The gate is called Doctors Gate as it was where supplies were handed over to villagers at times of Plague). After a lovely run down the road into Wolsingham we were cheered into the Market Place.

Leg 11: Wolsingham to Waterhouses, 7.77M

Girl Power! So it was that Sue J, Emma, Angela and myself headed up the hill out of Wolsingham towards Tow Law where Jan joined us. At Tow Law we found the off road route, which, in parts suggested that the OS maps needed updating! As we passed through a wood the rains started. (A bit too rainy thanks). Back on the road with a mile to go a search party of Dave ( bike) and John H ( running – what else) appeared. So it was we arrived at Waterhouses where we were greeted by the Final Leggers. Thanks to the organisers for another excellent weekend of fun and thanks to Georges Flame surely a record sum raised. Roll on next year!

…and finally Danny Lim

Legs 12 & 13: Waterhouses to Broompark to the Castle, 5.5M & 2.38M

I was doing the last 2 legs into Durham. I started off in Waterhouses joined by Angela Proctor, Claire Readey, John Hutchinson and Roz Layton. Dave Shipman and Stephen Garbutt were our bike escorts. It was a pleasant run along the bike paths. Though, the heavens soon opened and it became a puddle run. At least, I didn’t need to take a shower! At Broompark, we were joined by George Nicholson, Melanie Hudson and a few others, who i apologise for not naming. By now, it was all familiar territory. We paused briefly at Windy Gap before our final dash to the Castle. We were welcomed by friendly faces and to a round of applause.

It’s quite an achievement to run a relay all the way from Bowness to Durham. As far as I was concerned, I was doing the easy bit. David Shipman and Geoff Watson spent so much time organising this. We had a fantastic support crew too. And I must thank our supporters along the way. Last but not least, the best part was the company and being able to run alongside such great people. What a fantastic club!

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Whitby to Durham Relay 2011, Saturday, June 18, 2011

Geoff Watson…

This year’s charity relay was from Whitby to Durham over 14 stages and 100 miles taking in parts of the Cleveland and Teesdale ways. The charity fundraising this year was in aid of the Prostate cancer charity in memory of Mike Hall.

Striders at the end of the relay

Day 1

An early start on Saturday morning saw the support bus (Dave Shipman’s camper) head south to Whitby. Good time was made and the 0730 arrival gave us enough time for a brew before setting off. The weather was a little damp but calm. There was no wind and the sea was beautifully calm. The first leg was from Whitby to Runswick (7.5 miles). On this leg were Geoff Watson and Mike Bennett and Benji. A quick photo under the whale bones and then the run was off, down the Promenade and then onto the beach to Sands End. Climbing up from Sands End onto the old railway the route snaked along the coast to Kettleness through fields. Benji took great delight in chasing anything he could; pheasant, rabbit, even a hare to which he gave a determined 100 metre pursuit. After Kettleness the route dropped down onto the beach at Runswick. A final push on the steep road out of the bay took saw the end of the leg at the cliff top car park at 0906 (scheduled start 0925)

Here Jan and Nina were ready to take over and they headed off for the next leg to Skinningrove (8.28 miles) 15 minutes ahead on the schedule. The route from here continues along the Cleveland Way passing through Staithes and taking in the climb over Boulby before a steep descent into the village of Skinningrove. Jan & Nina arrived in good time at 10:43 keeping the schedule up (scheduled start 10:58). Jan and Nina then set off back to Runswick to pick the car up.

Whilst at Skinningrove Dave Robson arrived. Having previous knowledge of the Cleveland Way he offered to guide Mike Bennett and Dave Shipman through Saltburn and Skelton on the next stage to Slapewath whilst the van moved on to the next checkpoint. This next leg was 8.37 miles.

At Slapewath Dave Cattrick arrived but there was no sign of Richard Hall who was his partner for this leg. Dave Robson kindly offered to stand in on this leg over to the hamlet of Kildale. Mike and Dave arrived at 12:24 having had a good run through but losing their way slightly, but time was still in hand with the scheduled start at 12:32. The weather was now becoming more inclement with some heavy bursts of rain. Both Dave’s duly set off for Kilby whilst the van went on to the end of the leg. Here more runners began to arrive with Angela and Nigel for the next leg. Jan and Nina arrived having collected their car from Runswick. The rain continued with occasional showers whilst we waited for the runners. The tea room was a welcome distraction for some of the team. The runners eventually appeared on the hillside descending from Captain Cook’s monument and shortly arrived at the hand over at 14:10 now bang on the schedule. Dave Catterick was continuing whilst Dave Robson stopped. Many thanks to Dave for filling in on this leg.

The next group headed off from Kilby and up the road over the fell heading for Claybank. At Claybank the van parked up at the point were the Cleveland way crosses the road. By now the midgies were beginning to become a nuisance so tea in the van seemed like a great idea. There was certainly plenty to choose from with abundant cake and snacks. Mike’s carrot cake was a hit. As time marched on it seemed that the schedule was going to slip and so it did, however not due to fatigue. There had been some navigational issues on the outward stretch from Kilby that caused the delay. All runners arrived safely with Nigel leading in at 16:15 (scheduled depart 16:02). Nigel and Angela were continuing on accompanied by Kirstin. Dave Catterick now took a well deserved rest having completed 17-18 miles.

The next checkpoint was at Huthwaite, a small hamlet enroute to Scugdale and the start of the cycle leg. On this leg the cyclists included Keith Wesson, Barry Bird, Dave Shipman, Mike Bennett, Paul Gibson and Alan Purvis. Again time was ticking by and concern over the whereabouts of the runners from Claybank grew. Dave Robson had seen them pass through at Carlton Bank, so the they couldn’t be far off. The cyclists were itching to be off as the start time past. The runners eventually arrived at 18:00 (17:17 scheduled depart) and the cyclists headed for Girsby. Keith issued a warning that there should be no attacking in the first mile, however the peacocks in the road put an end to any early breakaways! The ride was over a scenic route along quiet lanes passing through Rounton, Appleton Wiske and Hornby. The riders made good time arriving at Girsby at 19:04 and only 40 minutes over the scheduled time. A good day out!

Those that were staying over now headed for Ingleby Cross and the Blue Bell Inn where there was camping at the back of the pub. The tents went up in the rain, then hot showers and food in a lively pub hosting a 40th birthday party made for a good night. A few pints of the local ‘Slipway’ all round enabled some of us to slip off to sleep quite well despite the rain and revelry. Mike said it didn’t seem long between the party goers leaving and the birds starting singing, but couldn’t say for certain who was late or early!

Day 2

The morning broke with damp, overcast skies. The cloud hung on the tree tops of the firs up on the hillside. Tents were taken down followed by breakfast at the team van at 0745 followed by a swift drive to Girsby for 9am. Geoff Davis appeared from down the track at Girsby. He and Susan had arrived to run alternate legs for the whole day. So at 9am Dave and Jan set off with Susan for Croft on Tees. At Croft Paul Loftus arrived for the next leg. Concern for the runners on the first leg of the day rose as time ticked by. They eventually arrived at 10:29 (scheduled start at 10:07) having had some tricky navigation round the golf course where the Teesdale way disappeared. Paul, Nina and Geoff Davis now set off for Low Coniscliffe and pulled back some time arriving at 11:23 (schedule 11:15).

George Nicholson had arrived and was ready for his leg, the weather seemingly improving with sunny skies. The next leg saw Susan, George and Geoff Watson head for Piercebridge following the winding path of the Tees. The runners arrived at Piercebridge up on the schedule at 12:05 (schedule 12:14) but thoroughly drenched having been caught in a torrential downpour. This seemed to set a weather pattern for the day where it only rained on the legs George was running!

The next leg was perhaps the trickiest of all, being a connecting leg to take the route from the Teesdale way over to Bishop Auckland. The marked paths were permissible but rarely used and therefore impassable in places. Never the less, Mike Bennett and Geoff Davis made a stern effort and ploughed or hacked their way through the fields arriving up at Brusselton at 13:41 (schedule 13:32).

Whilst they had been out running more tea and cake had been consumed, including Susan’s excellent banana cake! On the next leg were George, Susan, Barry Bird and Andy James. There was a nice downhill start along the bridleway then out on to the roads for a urban leg through Bishop. Rain was visible in the distance, so it must surely have been George’s leg! The van moved on to Newton Cap to see them pass through the carpark. Barry stopped here and Mike ran on for a few miles to the finish of the leg at Hunwick Station.

On arrival at Hunwick Dave Robson, Christina, Denise Mason and Colin Blackburn were waiting. The runners arrived at 14:32 (schedule 14:34) and the next group (Dave, Colin, Denise, Christina, Geoff, Mike) swiftly headed off for Langley Moor. The van moved off to catch the runners at Willington and then Brancepeth where Barry Evans joined in. Somewhere on this leg Anna joined in. At Langley Moor a large group assembled for the last 2 miles. The runners arrived at 15:40 (schedule 15:54). The final group of 13 or 14 headed off across the field only to encounter problems getting out of the field. Having tackled this they headed up to the Duke of Wellington and onwards to Prebends Bridge, the Bailey and the end at the Millennium square arriving at 16:14 with 3 minutes in hand. They were accompanied by Phil and Paul on their bikes

There were a few photo’s and everyone then moved on to the Court where Kim joined us for food. Many thanks to David Shipman who again made his van available as the team HQ along the way and invaluable support vehicle. Thanks go to everyone who took part and made the whole thing possible, I’m sure Mike would have been very proud of everyone!

… Jan Young

Leg 2, Day 1

Nina and Mum ran 8.2 mls from Runswick Bay to Skinningrove, following coastal Cleveland Way footpath. Warm morning, but heavy mist hanging, couldn’t see ‘owt leaning when over sheer cliffs! Speeded up in last two miles, hoping to keep 15 minutes ahead of schedule and must have looked reasonably impressive as one walker asked, ‘Is there a race on?’ exclaiming !!!!!!! nora when we replied ‘100 mile relay from Whitby to Durham’. I assumed his other indistinguishable comments were encouragement! So pleased my route knowledge and map helped Nigel, Angela and Katrina on their leg. We survived the wet overnight camp and thanks for great company in pub. Already looking forward to next year.

… Nigel Heppell

Leg 5, Day 1

Arrived at the hamlet of Kildale on a cool, dank Saturday afternoon and found a good collection of Striders sheltering in various vehicles and tearoom waiting for leg 4 runners to appear up the lane from Cap’n Cook’s Monument. David Catterick and Dave Robson duly arrived bang on schedule and David C, having already covered 8.4 miles, continued on through the next stage with myself and a slightly injured Angela. After a bit of confusion with the route at the end of the first mile where what appeared on the map to be a simple track but was in reality a tarmac road caused us to veer off uphill and get a good soaking in the long grasses, we regained directional control and climbed out of the valley to reach the escarpment. Excellent views back towards Roseberry Topping, ahead to Clay Bank, and west over the flatlands of the vale, close views of some Golden Plover too. Its all a bit featureless up on the top itself though we did find a Hardmoors 110 self-clip tied to a post at one point. Nice headlong charge downhill to the changeover at Claybank where midges were doing their best to antagonise the support crew.

Leg 6, Day 1

Swopped David C for Kirsten at this point and Angela and I carried on. The girls took the sensible route contouring around the treeline but I had a new pair of shoes to break in for the Saunders MM so I went up over the tops to view the Wainstones and give my feet a bit of a workout. There are quite a few climbs and descents on this route but we managed to meet up at the dips and came into Carlton Bank carpark together where Jan, Nina and Dave R gave cheer. Jan also sent us off on an attractive undulating trail underneath Lordstones that eventually led us through some very boggy woods before spitting us out onto the Cleveland Way again. A steady trot down the lane to Huthwaite where a whole bunch of strangely attired folk sat astride their cycles straining against their brakes ready to make up some of the time we lost on this section. Not the warmest or driest of runs but very satisfying all the same.

… George Nicholson

Leg 10, Day 2

I arrived early at Low Coniscliffe on the Sunday morning for the start of Leg 10. Soon the support ‘convoy’ drove ‘into town’ and before much longer the leg 9’ers arrived on foot. Susan, Geoff W & I set off along the Teesdale Way following the River Bank footpaths heading towards Piercebridge. Susan who had earlier said she preferred running in the rain, soon got what she wished for – BIG TIME . The shower didn’t last long, however the volume of water that fell out the sky in that time more than made up for it’s brevity. We left the river banks briefly as the path went through the hamlet of Carlbury, then returned back down to the riverside again and proceeded in great haste to arrive at the lovely village of Piercebridge for the next hand over. I should have guessed with Susan & Geoff the pace would have been fast, and I only really managed to catch them, and my breath, at the finish. For the record it should be noted that this leg started 5 mins behind schedule and finished 10 mins in front !- say no more… I rested a while before driving north in the sunshine to collect Andy James and return with him to meet up with Barry B. & Susan at Brussleton. The 4 of us due to run leg 12 to Hunwick… and guess what ? it was starting to rain again.

… Andy James

Leg 12, Day 2

Having met a very wet George at Hunwick (he was organized enough to have a change of running clothes!), we traveled to Brussleton to meet up with our fellow runners (Susan and Barry Bird) and the back up team. After waiting anxiously for half an hour for Mike and Geoff – the notoriety of their leg was public knowledge – their 2 figures appeared to much cheering at the top of a hill. I was so looking forward to that long downhill start – but to no avail – it was so muddy that no speed was possible. A very straightforward leg, mostly on road, meant navigation was not an issue so I could concentrate all my energy on keeping up with the goddess of Strider running?! My fellow runners were actually very kind to someone who only trains once a week and we managed to make up some time. The route took us on the West Auckland bypass, along Watling Road and through Bishop town centre (not a pretty sight with all the shuttered shops) and then onto Newton Cap viaduct. Dave, Geoff and team were a welcome sight at the car park then the long railway path to Hunwick. We made it and NO RAIN, despite being with George! Thanks everyone for a great time.

… Colin Blackburn

Leg 13, Day 2

As Elfie and I arrived at the car park at Hunwick Station I was surprised to see just a couple of cars and no compervan. I quickly checked that the cars contained someone I knew before Elfie drove off – you never know what people get up to in remote car parks on a Sunday! Denise, Dave R and Fetchie Christina were sitting out the drizzle in Denise’s car, Denise discovering various things about her car like where the tyre pressures were listed. It was getting close to the changeover time with no sign of the runners or the campervan. Just as I got my phone out to check for emails a fleet of vehicles arrived from one direction and the incoming runners from the other. A very quick change of clothes and we were off. Geoff D, Mike and Benji decided to stay on for another leg (not sure if Benji had any choice) and so the six of us and a dog set off for Langley Moor. At some point Anna jumped out of a bush and joined us! The great thing about only railway lines is that they are flat, this made for a very enjoyable run. In fact it must have been good because I don’t even remember going through Willington.

Leg 14, Day 2

At Langley Moor several of us set off on the final leg into Durham. You’ll have to forgive me for not remembering everyone on this leg but there was Mike E, Keith, Angela, Anna,… and the others! Despite this being the shortest leg it started somewhat hesitantly with some terrible navigating. We all charged across a field full of horses like something from the Wild West. a very steep bank brought us to a stand still. A quick diversion and we found a way down. It turned out to be a mudslide, one that Angela did on her backside. After going under the viaduct we tried to find our way into someone’s back garden before finally finding the stile out of the field and realising we should have stayed high. I blame the map. The rest of the run went smoothly as we trod regular roads and paths through Durham while Phil O did stunts on his bike as he tried to get the odd picture of us in action. We arrived in Millennium Square to the applause of lots of other Striders and after a few photos we decamped to the Court Inn for a well earned pint or two and some food.

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Castles Relay 2010, Saturday, June 19, 2010

280 miles

Surviving Striders at the finish

Thanks to all…

Brilliant effort from all the runners who ran 280 combined miles: Geoff W, Dave S, Louise B, George Nic, Dave R, Barry Bird, Paul Gibson, Gary Davies, Mike B, Angela, John Everett, Andy Glass, Melanie, Keith Wesson and guy who ran same leg, sorry don’t know your name, Roz L, Ian Graham, Graham Daglish, Nina, Jan, Will H, Shaun, Nigel H. Barrie E. Steph. And supporters: Tony Young, Roz Roberts, Lynne, Heather, Lesley H, Ronnie, Bob Layton.

Biggest thanks to Geoff and Dave, our expert relay organisers, who spent weekends sussing the route, setting up maps! We were lucky with the weather, although Saturday was windy, we were blown along and the beaches were spectacular.

Total raised so far, £228. Next year, Whitby to Durham has been suggested, again incorporating coastal scenery and inland tracks.

Geoff Watson

Day 1

This year’s sport relief charity relay started on what turned out to be a very cold and windy day for June. An early start on Saturday morning saw the team van with David at the wheel leave Chester le Street at 7am with Louise, Graham and Geoff onboard. A swift journey north brought us to blustery Berwick upon Tweed at 0830 am. David and I were curious, as we had been on our recce’s, why so many farms in Northumberland have quite large industrial chimneys? Forges or other industry? Answers on an email! David suggested a bacon roll and duly went off to acquire some. Barry and Heather soon arrived. David returned with a bag of fresh pasties instead and the first leg runners, Louise and Geoff, went up onto the ramparts of Berwick town for the start at 9am (be careful of the sheer drop!).

Leg 1

The wind was blowing a gale and it was freezing. The north sea was a frenzy of white froth whipped up by the strong north westerly. A surfers paradise no doubt.There was not much time for standing around, so a few photo’s and with no sign of Will and Ronnie we sneaked off at 8:55am. Down Wallace Green, left onto Marygate, down through the centre, right turn and onto the old bridge over the Tweed. A great view of the viaduct to the right and out to sea on the left. We then ran along the quayside south picking up the cycle network 1. Along the main street before climbing up onto the headland adjacent to the main east coast line. Now past the town the coast path opened up in front of us witht the sea raging below us. Louise donned her head band to control her uncontrollable hair in the wind! We passed by Scremerston and onto road again towards the Cocklawburn nature reserve. Along here we passed groups of school kids on their Duke of Edinburgh expeditions. A few cyclists and walkers too. At the end of road we hit the track again, ran past a silent gun battery dating from World War 2 facing south across Cheswick bay. Soon we could see the van at Cheswick and we rolled in 5 mins ahead of schedule to hand over to George Nicholson for the next leg (accompanied by Louise).

Leg 2

George Nicholson, Dave Robson and myself set off from Fenham crossing a field and then carefully over the main east coast railway. We then entered a field of oilseed rape which was almost shoulder height. The farmer had made an effort to trample down a path but the plants were still a foot off the ground. We struggled through this for some 500 metres bouncing along on the spongy surface. We thankfully eventually got out of the field, passed through Fenwick Steads and through another field. A brief spell on the A1 took us to the Easington Grange turn and road for the rest of the way. George was looking a little tired now after his second leg and didn’t believe my reassurance that it’s “not far now”. At Easington Grange we handed over to Paul Gibson and Barry Bird.Miraculously we were still on schedule!

George Nicholson

Leg 2

9.50am at Cheswick Myself & Louise

Got to Cheswick in good time, not quite sure of exact meeting point so I was very relieved to see Camper Van, cars, and ‘support’ team already parked up. Very windy ( but thankfully blowing in the right direction ie at our backs ) Geoff & Louise soon came into view over the dunes – minimal delay on changeover allowed ( poor Louise ! ) and then she & I set off towards Golf club, past the beachcomber house. Geoff’s earlier words of ‘comfort’ were ringing in my ear at this point ” this used to be a military range and there may be munitions lying around “. Thankfully we survived, and carried on to follow the high tide line round the coast. Great views of Lindisfarne ( the Island, not the Group ) . Cars & Ice Cream van were lined up at the Holy Island crossing point waiting for the tide to ‘go out’. We did fancy stopping for a 99 but knew Dave & Geoff would object ! From here we followed the St Cuthbert Way path for a while before turning back onto the Coastal Path again. Electric fence to negotiate at one point- Louise coped, but I couldn’t get my leg over ( guess it’s an age thing ). Spirits were lifted by the warm welcome of the support team at the remote hamlet of Fenham.

Leg 3

10.45 am at Fenham. minimal delay again at this changeover (poor George !) and set off with Dave Robson & Geoff.

Geoff apologised for this being mostly a ‘tarmac’ leg, so I guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise after 5 minutes of tarmac to have to cross a very large field of waist high, ankle tugging, ‘triffids’ !! ( i.e unharvested oil seed rape) – walking was difficult, running impossible. Eventually emerged from this mini ‘jungle’ and we soon picked up the pace once back onto tarmac, crossed the main line railway ( oh no, more electric ) , until we got to .. yes more triffids !! Thankfully this was a shorter section and we quickly reached the busy A1. After 1/2 mile or so, we turned off the main highway and got onto a quiet side road leading the 2 – 3 miles down to Easington Grange. Geoff wanted to pick up the pace yet again to make up for lost time. Dave managed ok, but soon I was beginning to struggle. Not because of the distance involved, just I was not quite prepared for Geoff’s ‘4 minute/mile pace’!! ( OK, slight exaggeration, but you get the ‘drift’ ). After several times hearing his “ the camper van is just over there “…. I stopped believing him anymore. We entered the hamlet of Easington Grange at the same time as a rain shower, but again spirits were lifted by the wonderful sight just ahead of the support team. My body did finally arrive about 11.45am, and my mind followed a few minutes later. Thanks as well to Graham who drove my car down from Cheswick to here.

Nigel Heppell

Relay section: Alnmouth to Amble

A grey day and a strong, uninterupted, cold tail wind sent Geoff W, John E, and Nigel H scurrying along the beach and straight into the River Aln, fortunately no more than knee deep although it was hard to judge visually and locals had advised against it! John was quick to spot the noxious smell from the disturbed river bed and we were glad to get out the other side and begin the run proper. A rather ethereal quality to this remote stretch of dune-backed coastline was added to by drifts of wind-blown sand to mid-calf height and spume creating a hazy vista ahead. After a straightforward plod along the firm sands exposed by a very low tide we checked the map and guessed it was time to move inland over the dunes to avoid swimming across the considerably deeper River Coquet. Warkworth was resplendent in its spring/summer colours and a handy back lane led straight to the highest point near the castle. From there it was downhill to the river, lots of swans, 20-30 pairs, and on to the marina on the outskirts of Amble and a welcoming crowd of Striders.

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