Intrigued by the picture on the Duergar Run website of a fierce looking character, and the prospect of being chased through the fells by a wild creature or suchlike, I decided to find out more. I discovered that Duergar comes from the old Norse word Dvergar which means Dwarf. There are many old stories which suggest that these Duergars live in the rocks and hills around Simonside, their purpose being to lure unsuspecting hikers or travellers by torchlight over rocky ravines or into deep bogs. I reckoned they would be happy to target unsuspecting runners too.Continue reading The Duergar Nightcrawler Run
Border Harriers 66th Brampton to Carlisle 10 mile Road Race, Sunday, November 19, 2017
Although some may not see the appeal of a wintry run along main and minor roads which are not closed, I relish the prospect of this, the oldest 10-mile road race in Britain. Slick organisation, a net downhill course (albeit with a few negative decline challenges!), friendly atmosphere and the lure of a carvery afterwards – what’s not to like? As B2C is a firm favourite on the club GP calendar, this also ensures a good purple contingent.
Last year I had a good run, which left a time of 1:20:33 to beat. My plan this time was to nudge just under 5 min/km pace, which would break 80 minutes. Above all, I told myself to avoid the error of my ways last year – setting off like a scalded cat, which caught up with me later in the race.
There had been some planning ahead of this day in the spectator department too – my Son Patrick was really looking forward to spending the day with Lewis, and watching the racing. The Strider bus weaved along the countryside to reach Brampton and upon arrival at the William Howard School, there were earnest discussions about the prevailing conditions, and whether long or short sleeves were the order of the day. I settled for my club vest but with the comfort of my gloves, beanie and as I’d had a niggle in my left calf, my fetching compression socks.
After the team photo, we moved towards the start on Longtown Road. Having been before, I knew to expect a ‘surprise start’ – the road closed at the last minute, and a starting pistol fired rapidly to despatch some 500 runners on their way.
The first stretch downhill with a sharp right turn to join the Carlisle road has a habit of encouraging a bit of an overly keen pace. This year was no different, and as I ran along for the first 4 km or so at ~4:30 min/km with Graeme Walton, we remarked on how we had diverted a little from the plan. I knew the climb up to the Newby back road would settle me down, and it did.
As I ran along these minor roads, thanking the volunteers on my way, I reflected on the remarkably dry conditions compared to the wading experience of the 2015 race. Natalie was in front of me and provided me with a purple vest to keep within my sights – try as I might, however, I could not catch her.
Through Low Crosby, we re-joined the A689 towards Carlisle. I knew there were a couple of undulations to come, and I told myself to keep calm – last year I’d developed a horrendous stitch in the last 2 miles which had been hard to recover from.
I could see the houses on the outskirts of the City, and pressed on. To my left and ahead, I started to see the River Eden, and finally the Eden Bridge. I passed Andy and Mike who spurred me on, just before the final descent to the Bridge. On the Bridge, I was determined not to let the chap in front beat me, and to my left, I saw a welcome sight of two bobble hats – Patrick, and Lewis. As I got closer I realised this was a Strider funnel, and I gave it everything I had left to get ahead of the white shirt in front. I rounded into the finish funnel and smiled from ear to ear – job done! A hugely enjoyable race, with a PB of 1:15:37 and well done to all Striders who ran!
No medals for this race – I think I got a pair of socks in 2015, a lovely coaster last year which is on my desk, and this year’s prize was a race mug. Thanks to the organisers who also let Patrick and Lewis have a mug each for their cheering efforts.
(Wesham Road Runners & Ac)
(Rotherham Harriers And AC)
The Snake Lane 2017, Pocklington, Yorkshire, Sunday, February 26, 2017
Firstly I must thank Phil Ray for offering me the chance to buy his place in this as he couldn’t make it.
Despite knowing since Christmas I was doing it, I arrived on the start line with no actual plan or idea how it should most usefully fit into my training schedule for the Paris Marathon 6 weeks away.
So with Allan Seheult’s mantra ringing in my ears (‘don’t go off too fast, don’t go off too fast, don’t go off too fast!’) I decided it would be best to not go too fast and to see how I felt in the first mile or so and just go from there. My plan soon formed into 10 minute miles for the first half, then see if I could speed up a bit for the second half.
The conditions for the first 4 miles were very pleasant, almost springlike, and I was grateful for my choice of capris, not so for my choice of long sleeve club vest. All around me people were removing layers and I was quite envious and tried to concentrate on keeping my pace steady, on the more or less flat course.
However after about 4 1/2 miles, we met a strong headwind, reminding us in no uncertain terms that were were in East Yorkshire, in February! This wind continued from the front/side/both for the remainder of the race which made me even more pleased when I was able to more or less maintain my ‘faster’ pace during the second half.
The ‘hills’ I kept asking fellow runners and water station marshals about could be better long inclines, still runnable, and only a couple. This, along with the lovely countryside and fab organisation / marshals makes this one to really recommend. I’ve no idea what it was like up at the sharp end but for me there was plenty of space around without me feeling like I was running on my own and it still felt like a race, albeit a very friendly one.
Also, the race HQ is at a rugby club and the bar was open afterwards (along with teas/coffees/cakes/massages and a good atmosphere). Now, obviously I’m a dedicated athlete(!) but I do enjoy a swift half as well! So I hung around a bit at the end, chatted to Michael and watched the prize presentations (which I don’t often get to do as they have usually finished by the time I get there).
Entries sold out in under an hour for this year, so if you fancy going for the 2018 edition (and I really think you should) then be aware that entries will open at 9.30am on Sat 28th October 2017. The race will take place on Feb 25th 2018 at the earlier start time of 9.30am.
This would mean a much earlier Sunday morning start from Durham but I suspect it would still be worth it! A grand day out in Yorkshire.
|Male||Michael Littlewood||Elvet Striders||Vet 40||8/100||
|Female||Rachael Bullock||Elvet Striders||SNRF||32/93||
|Female||Nicola Whyte||Elvet Striders||SNRF||33/93||
|Female||Louise Barrow||Elvet Striders||SNRF||39/93||
|Male||David Selby||Elvet Striders||Vet 45||82/93||
|Female||Fiona Wood||Elvet Striders||Vet 35||60/76||
|Male||Alan Smith||Elvet Striders||V70||5/6||
|Female||Christine Farnsworth||Elvet Striders||Vet 65||9/9||
Morpeth Harriers & Ac
Dumfries Running Club
Just over an hours drive from Durham lies the quaint little village of Ripley, North Yorkshire. We three striders cladded in purple find ourselves here one foggy Sunday morning. From the allocated field for parking, we make our way to the village hall, today known as Race HQ. It’s buzzing with excited club runners topping up on caffeine, stopping off at toilets and pinning numbers to vests.
As we near 10:30, we start to assemble outside Ripley Castle, pushing near to the start line…this race is not chip timed, every second counts! After a quick race briefing, the nominated Guy Fawkes fires the gun and we are off. There is a brief and frenzied downhill dash until the road turns and climbs up and up. I know this is a challenging course, I reckon it’s similar to the Tynedale Jelly Tea Race. My race plan, run as hard up the hills as I can, run as fast down the downhills as I can…oh and remember to enjoy the surroundings while coming down. As soon as we start the fog clears, the sky is blue, there’s not a cloud to spoil the view…only the hills.
I set off with tired legs, feeling a bit heady from dehydration, the first major climb, the ‘Birstwith Brute’ takes its toll, but as I reach the crest my legs start to loosen and I actually start to enjoy myself. 5 miles in and the worst is over and the views are beautiful. I remember how I quite enjoy the challenge of hitting a hill as hard as I can, to feel my legs burn and then to enjoy the relief on the glorious downhills.
There are two other big climbs, ‘Swincliff Swine’ and ‘For Fawkes Sake’. A few smaller ones are mixed in for good measure, not big enough to warrant nicknames. I’d caught glimpses of purple along the way but on the final hill I could actually read the words ‘Penny’ emblazoned on the vest, this really spurred me on in those final miles. I started to overtake quite a few runners. The last mile, mostly downhill, was a crazed race to the finish, picking off as many women as I could until I hit the final climb and up through the gateway to the finish line. I actually managed in this race, a good negative split. I will ignore the fact my mile splits are hilarious and revel in my achievement.
And so me and my fellow purplies, now a bit red and sweaty, meet up to collect water and round the corner to the wondrous sight of our goody bags. Bags, we were told, would be heavily laden with chocolate bars. 15, if we were lucky. We visually weigh them up, trying to guess the best filled. We are like kids with Christmas stockings. Eagerly we open them up, we’ve earned those 15 chocolate bars. Yet low and behold only 4, 4 measly bars are in our bags. Nevertheless, we have our orange T-shirts to prove we conquered those hills.
Will we be back? £12, easy transfers, 10m, 1000ft climb. Good parking, lots of toilets, pretty surroundings, lovely tea shops, chocolate(only 4 bars and for some only 3), and yet it was a good one, not for the PB chaser, but to feel alive, yes, you bet.
Shaun Lee Johnstone Memorial Multi-Terrain Race, Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire, Sunday, October 18, 2015
This was one of those low-key, very friendly but efficiently run races. The start was a farmyard near Boroughbridge. From there, we ran through 10 miles of muddy farm tracks, interspered by bits of boggy grass and the ood patch of tarmac; in short, it was proper cross country terrain!
Every turn had a friendly, cheery marshal, and some of the locals turned out in force too. It only cost £8 to enter, but all finishers got a medal, a banana and 10 tea bags of Yorkshire Tea! What more could one ask for. From Durham, it would take just under an hour to get here.
But perhaps the one thing I will remember was my chat with the race director. The race is named afer his son who died of a brain tumour aged 16. Although 17 years ago, his sadness still showed.
I wasn’t really sure what I was meant to do, and across the car park I spied a similarly perplexed looking individual. Wandering over I asked his advice. He shrugged in a relaxed manner, said it was his first race too, and we assumed, rightly, that by following everyone else, things would sort themselves out.
That was 8 years ago and the stranger in the car park was Phil Owen. Neither of us knew at that time that Elvet Striders existed but even then the purple presence in the race was unmistakable.
Back to yesterday morning and lying in bed a reminder on my phone told me that it was Jelly Tea time. I hadn’t planned on doing this event as, being a point to point, I remembered it being a fiddly business. But closer reading showed that it now started and finished at the same place, and, importantly, there were entries on the day. I could feel another impulse purchase coming on.
It was hot and calm at Hexham Racecourse and the drive up and up from Hexham to the venue were an indication of what we were in for. Much is written about specificity of training and this event has often been a favourite pre-taper 10-miler for those doing the Great North Run. However, as far as specificity goes, it shares little with the GNR. It’s hilly. My word is it hilly! This all new course scours the quiet lanes south of Hexham, where there are an abundance of quiet, steep, endless hills.
After a ropey season I’m still treating races as fact-finding missions, testing myself to see how my form is and what I might expect in the GNR in two week’s time. I didn’t feel lightning quick or fit but I didn’t feel too bad either so I settled down and had an enjoyable 10 miles in the sunshine.
I’m not sure what I think of the all-new course – I think I like it – and as long as you enter in the knowledge that the chances of a PB are negligible, there are far worse ways of spending your day.
|position||name||bib||cat||cat pos||club||finish time||chip time|
|1||Tadele Geremew Mulugeta||321||Ages16-39||1/105||Elswick Harriers||00:56:10||00:56:08|
|14||Justina Heslop||192||Ages35-39||1/34||Elswick Harriers||01:03:07||01:03:04|
|94||Elaine Bisson||42||Ages 35-39||5/34||01:15:57||01:15:49|
|104||Matthew Archer||18||Ages 16-39||52/105||01:16:45||01:16:39|
|235||Helen Todd||456||Ages 35-39||11/34||01:29:36||01:29:11|
|271||Victoria Brown||60||Ages 16-34||22/63||01:33:50||01:33:12|
|278||Jean Bradley||50||Ages 55-59||5/10||01:34:23||01:34:00|
|279||David Spence||421||Ages 65+||4/10||01:34:37||01:34:05|
|323||Anna Seeley||402||Ages 16-34||31/63||01:38:14||01:37:39|
|348||Dougie Nisbet||535||Ages 50-54||32/41||01:42:02||01:41:38|
|396||Louise Barrow||31||Ages 16-34||47/63||01:49:32||01:48:41|
|439||Laura Gibson||522||Ages 35-39||33/34||02:02:42||02:01:51|
|440||Karrie Eilles||138||Ages 16-34||61/63||02:02:42||02:01:52|
|441||Natalie Johnson||231||Ages 35-39||34/34||02:02:43||02:01:53|
Thirsk 10, Monday, March 23, 2015
I entered this race on a whim late one Friday night back in November knowing a good few Striders had done it over the last few years and it was advertised as a flat fast course.
Not having ventured over 10k for races in the last 2 years due to injuries I was determined to make this race and after a steady away winter I started training for it in late February and training went well, having matched my 2.5 year old parkrun pb the week before I knew I was in decent shape for it and set myself a target of 80 mins for it.
Race day dawned sunny and calm thankfully and I headed down the A19 arriving in good time to pick up my number and sort myself out. The race HQ is at Thirsk racecourse but the start is about 10 minutes walk away, we were shepherded there about 20 minutes before the 11am start.
The race started on time and I eased my way into it, the first half mile fairly slow and then gently picking up pace as the congestion eased a bit, Steve Trout passed me at this point and we exchanged greetings as Striders do, my first mile completed in 8:04. The next couple of miles were on a closed country road and passed uneventfully at steady pace, turning onto A167 which was partially closed I felt my hamstring and glutes tighten and I eased back just slightly as I settled in behind a couple of runners for the next 2 miles, going through halfway in 40:10.
At about 6.5 miles we took a left up a closed road and was immediately faced with a stream of others coming back down the road which was slightly disheartening, the run up the road seemed to last forever and get harder, as we moved through mile 7 I checked my watch I noticed my pace had increased as I started overtaking more people and pushing on. Shortly afterwards Steve passed me coming back the other way and then the turnaround point came into sight thankfully, this gave me a boost as I picked up the pace more going through mile 8 in 7:49. Louise Barrow gave me a shout just after this as we passed in opposite directions. and then we were back onto the open roads again, mile 8 to 9 was my fastest mile at 7:46 and at this point I realised sub 80 was on if I could maintain my pace.
Mile 10 seemed to last forever and I was constantly checking my garmin as the distance slowly moved on, eventually the finish came into sight and as I caught up a lass from another club she gave me an encouraging shout as I went past her and rounded the corner back into the racecourse and over the finish line in 79:47, a pleasing 33 second negative split and a new pb over the distance by over 2 minutes.
Brampton to Carlisle, Sunday, November 16, 2014
Running the race is normally the easy part – getting to the start line injury free and in good shape is the real challenge. After the race our weekly club roundup email started like this: “Still injured; out of shape; a few weeks off the pace; aiming for sub-70 [are] all phrases issued by Gareth Pritchard in recent weeks!”.
So I guess I should put this into context and hopefully add some colour to what was another great day on the beautiful tarmac for the Striders. Almost 2 months ago I injured my achilles quite badly and have struggled ever since then. The run/walk half at Haltwhistle finally shot it to bits in September where I came 2nd from last and had to walk over the line.
Even after this it took me another 3 weeks of failed self-taught rehab before I finally admitted defeat and went to see a physio like I should have done from the start – some big lessons learned.
Race day was almost perfect for running: fresh, dry and guaranteed to be mud free for my fellow PB hunters. Striders always put on a bus for this race which I highly recommend to everyone thinking about this next year. It’s a great chance to catch up with fellow striders and a well earned pit-stop for Sunday lunch on the way home (they do a great chocolate cake).
After only managing 2 training runs and having to tape up my achilles for the race, I was trying to be realistic with my goals. So a slow start, then build to 5 miles and if my achilles is OK, push hard to hopefully be home in around 65 mins. That was the plan but as I always expected, it went out of the window as soon as the race began.
I started near to my fellow speedy striders, Grahame, Matt and Stephen then my natural racing instinct got the better of me. After clocking a suicidal first mile at a 5K PB pace I finally caught up with the marathon king, Stephen (the start is downhill so you have to take advantage, but we both suffered from this super speedy start).
I reigned myself back in and started to clock 6 minute mile pace. Still faster than I planned and I knew I was not in shape to hold it but no way was I pulling back from a race. Half-way came in about 29:30 and my achilles still felt good but my lack of fitness was really showing on the undulating course as my pace started slowing towards the end.
As I slowed and people passed I kept expecting to see a purple strider top and was mentally getting ready to dig in and race hard. Thankfully the last mile is all downhill but I had no real idea of my race time until I heard Alister’s booming voice saying that sub-60 was still on as I neared the finish. A last mad sprint and and I was home – in 59:58! First strider home and still able to walk! I was very happy to say the least and only 45 seconds slower than last year – a total shock!
Stephen was 2nd strider home in 60:36 and looking a dead cert to break sub-60 next time after another massively impressive run. PB’s were had by multiple striders so a big well done to all. Congratulations to Fiona Jones as first female strider home with an impressive sub 1:15. A special mention also for Sophie Dennis who had a horrible fall in the first mile but continued for another nine to finish. Two bloody knees but she was still smiling as she crossed the finish line showing true strider grit and a credit to the club.
There was no t-shirt or memento but there were two pairs of running socks in the goody bag, so I can’t complain. As always, it was a well organised event, not all the roads were closed off but that really didn’t make a difference. Another great day and one I will definitely be looking forward to again next year.
|1||Tadele Geremew||Elswick Harriers||1||49:48|
|56||Alex Sneddon||Jarrow & Hebburn AC||L||1||59:42|
|637||Anita Dunseith||L 2||205||1:48:52|
|638||Sophie Dennis||L 2||206||1:49:43|
Guy Fawkes 10, Ripley, Sunday, November 2, 2014
We had been down South for a few days prior to this race and rather than drive all the way back home and having to head back down to Ripley again the next day we thought we would instead treat ourselves to a night in a local inn. The Boar’s Head in Ripley looked nice and had the bonus of being right next to the start – so with a lie-in and car parking on offer it was a no brainer really. It was lovely too, we had a cracking meal in the restaurant the night before and had enjoyed a leisurely breakfast while watching runners arrive and register, we could also grab our numbers before it got too busy and use the bathroom as many times as we liked before the start, sheer luxury!
The weather was once again glorious, there was a bit of a nip in the air but the sun was shining and it was just lovely. We bumped into Graeme Walton and Jon Ayres at the start but despite the reasonably small field I missed both Jackie McKenna and Helen Williams – sorry! There was an attempt at a briefing before the race but either the directors megaphone wasn’t working or I was too far back as I didn’t hear a word of it and only knew we were off when everyone in front started moving. It was a bit congested for the first half-mile or so, on a track through the grounds of the beautiful Ripley Castle.
I hadn’t done this race before but Jon Ayres had warned that it was a bit hilly and not to go out too fast. This isn’t a problem at the moment for me anyway but the congestion helped dictate a pretty sensible pace to begin with and as tarmac turned into rocky trail I was just concentrating on where my feet were going. We ran through a farmyard (which did NOT smell good) and then back onto the road for a bit of an incline.
We then turned off onto a much smaller road and another climb before a lovely mile of downhill and before I knew it I was at the first water station at 4 miles. After this came the first of the named climbs, the Birstwith Brute. And brute it was, I decided at this point to walk the named hills and try and run the rest. The brute was long and unforgiving and the majority of folk around me were doing a mix of walking and complaining about the hill, much like I was, but eventually it finished and it was off downhill again in glorious scenery.
The next named hill was the Swinecliffe Swine, another hands on knees drag but a chance to rest the quads before the next downhill. There was another water station at 8 miles before the final hill – “For Fawkes Sake” – love it! I walked this one too and was overjoyed when the marshal at the top confirmed that it was the last one and that there were only 1.5 miles to go until the end, although he did say it was undulating rather than flat. This was indeed the case, the last mile wove its way through the castle grounds before a final sprint uphill to the finish, and I was pleased to still have enough in my legs to finish strongly.
I had remembered halfway round that the reason we had signed up to this race was because I had heard it was a goody bag of delights and that proved to be the case with no fewer than TWELVE chocolate bars (Graeme got 16!) and a t-shirt, well worth the pain of the hills! Good performances all round from the Striders too, on what was a tough but fun course.
It would have been rude to visit Ripley and not try some of its famous ice-cream so we treated ourselves to a large cone in the shop and soaked up a bit more of the sunshine before heading home to a chocolate fest.
I really enjoyed this race, yes it was hilly but there were some glorious downhills and the scenery was stunning, and I really enjoyed making a weekend of it too, I think this will definitely be going on the calendar for next year, Brute or no Brute!