Category Archives: GP

The GP is made up of 24 races in four general categories: Cross-country, Fell and Trail, Short Road or mixed-terrain, and, Long Road or mixed-terrain.

Each category comprises six races, and there are separate women’s and men’s competitions.

In each race the first Strider home gets 15 points, the second 14 points and so on. All Striders 15th and below get 1 point.

In the overall Grand Prix all 24 races count. In each category a runner’s best four from six count.

Race Key
See the fixtures page for details of individual events.

Pier to Pier, South Shields to Roker, Sunday, May 19, 2019

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. Sprint Champion Race - click flag for more information.

Results

posbibnamesexcattime
1553Liam TaylormMen38.5506
42615Molly Pace (Jesmond Joggers)wWomen44.7693
9240Michael MasonmSeniors M4040.8661
15237Georgie HebdonmMen42.2265
16204Graeme WattmSeniors M4042.2655
18247Michael LittlewoodmSeniors M4042.4475
28963Stuart OrdmMen43.4453
59159Allan RenwickmSeniors M5046.0298
941199Juan Corbacho AntonmMen47.6265
98161David HolcroftmMen47.824
1551130Conrad WhitemSeniors M6050.1882
157318Stephen SoulsbymSeniors M5050.2041
164273Matthew CarrmSeniors M4050.4936
1721319John BissonmSeniors M4050.8191
21456Katy WaltonwWomen52.1454
252250Peter HartmSeniors M4053.2151
263249Ian ButlermSeniors M5053.5762
2761Jonathan HamillmSeniors M4054.0397
300792Dan MitchellmSeniors M4054.6321
312305Corrine WhalingwWomen54.9451
32844Mark FostermSeniors M4055.1566
3461000Mark HerkesmMen55.4608
380668David BrowbankmMen56.1356
406861Laura JenningswWomen56.8738
424241Rachelle MasonwSeniors W4057.3278
426395Angela CharltonwSeniors W4057.37
45732Karen ByngwSeniors W5057.8047
464245Anna MasonwSeniors W4057.8386
4672Lee BrannanmSeniors M4057.8654
4731065Sarah DavieswSeniors W5057.9566
482996Chris ShearsmithmSeniors M4058.054
518232Robin LintonmMen59.109
52524Alan ScottmSeniors M5059.2334
533261Marita Le Vaul-GrimwoodwSeniors W4059.44
556805Craig WalkermSeniors M5060.1963
592283Lee StephensonmSeniors M4061.3598
597233Jill RudkinwSeniors W4061.4806
608619Jean BradleywSeniors W6061.8119
612264Lesley CharmanwSeniors W4061.8753
6281404Joshua WaltonmMen62.1242
666231Kimberley WilsonwWomen63.0654
669267Natalie BellwWomen63.3119
673964Zoe Dewdney ParsonswSeniors W4063.3837
682425Kelly GuywWomen63.6534
737611Sarah FawcettwSeniors W5064.867
745285Damian CookmSeniors M4065.0078
747680Debra ThompsonwSeniors W5065.0343
77723Aileen ScottwSeniors W4065.9567
789251Janet ElliswSeniors W5066.1283
82238Alan SmithmSeniors M7067.3495
8261149Andrew ThurstonmSeniors M6067.5143
859806Catherine WalkerwSeniors W6068.6892
9541299Victoria DowneswWomen72.0434
9891047Jane BailliewSeniors W4073.2992
103933Sophie DenniswWomen75.3224
1085504Carolyn GalulawSeniors W4076.7423
109147Jane DowsettwSeniors W5076.7654
1096438David RushtonmSeniors M4076.9071
109839Lisa LumsdonwSeniors W4076.9934
1127406Julie SwinbankwSeniors W4078.6131
113766Carole Thompson-YoungwSeniors W5079.2282
1145265Laura GibsonwSeniors W4079.5732
1146344Rebecca GilmorewWomen79.5884
1247346Rachel TothwSeniors W4091.6299
1272227Helen LintonwSeniors W50101.5146
1273228Diane SoulsbywSeniors W50101.537
1274246Wendy LittlewoodwSeniors W40101.5388
1275270Sandra GreenerwSeniors W40101.5523
(Visited 9 times, 3 visits today)

Clive Cookson 10K, Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. Sprint Champion Race - click flag for more information.

Joanne Patterson

After taking a bit of a step back from “racing” following some disappointing (to me!) times, I have been choosing my events very carefully – shunning the majority of popular races.  I took part in the Clive Cookson 10k in 2017, gaining a PB over the distance of 56:04. I felt it was time to give this another try, having not completely hated it the first time.

I love this race.  It is so underrated. A two 5k lap course with the first 2km on a very gradual (but noticeable, particularly on the second lap) climb, rewarded with some lovely gradual down, through country lanes and then housing estates…  The support is fantastic for such a small event – very few places on the course where there is nobody cheering you on. I think there were maybe 10 striders in attendance, not that I saw many of them because they were all the speedy ones who would have already left the carpark by the time I had done the first lap.  It always amazes me that more Striders don’t attend this race – this year it was even a GP fixture!!

My aim for this race was a PB, which I guess is usually your aim if you are entering a race. My 10k time stood at 54:09 from Tees Pride in 2017.  Lots of calculations and looking at the last time I ran it to try and establish what pace I should be attempting to run at to get in under 54 minutes.  It seemed crazy that I would need to run 5:22km average pace for 10kms – training runs have been much much slower over shorter distance and I had always convinced myself that couldn’t be good.  Nevertheless, I turned up, managed to pin my number on in the most crooked fashion yet, then got to the start.

I started quite near the back, as I knew we would start the climb straight away and “don’t go off to fast” rings in my ears.  On a chipped course, I like to start quite far back, as the ability to pass people works wonders for my confidence.  I soon realised that I was passing people (even uphill) but nobody was passing me – this instantly gave me my focus – don’t let anyone pass you.  I kept this up for most of the race, losing only 2 places around the 7k mark (both to men, so I wasn’t too bothered), but it wasn’t made easy for me!  A Derwentside AC runner was on my shoulder, pushing hard to pass me around 6k, but I kept my focus and she dropped back – more confidence!! My km times were good – except for the 2kms uphill, they had all been well under target.

The confidence felt amazing – I felt strong, my legs were fine and at no point did I feel I wanted to stop.  My brain was kind to me, and never once uttered “you need to stop Jo, you’re tired and rubbish” which is normally loves to do!  I was even high-fiving kids and there are pictures of me smiling.  Maybe I wasn’t trying hard enough…

Around 9k, I was catching a lady in front of me – she was running well but I knew I only had a km to go so I pushed on and passed her.  Clearly more familiar with the course, she zoomed past me with about 600m to go – this was so frustrating after my “don’t let anyone pass you” mantra.  Luckily the absence of our beloved track sessions hadn’t removed my ability to kick and with shouts of encouragement from Matt, I made up the gap and finished 12s in front of her!  With a new PB of 53:16.
If you’ve never tried this race – put it in your diary for next year.

PositionBibNameClubCategoryCategory PositionNet Time 
1501Gus WithersGateshead Harriers & ACMSEN1/7532:11:00
45314Tracy MillmoreBirtley ACFV351/3037:55:00
3233Stephen JacksonElvet StridersMV351/4433:08:00
26272Michael LittlewoodElvet StridersMV407/4636:34:00
28207Georgie HebdonElvet StridersMSEN13/7536:54:00
72379Allan RenwickElvet StridersMV504/3439:23:00
95448Emma ThompsonElvet StridersFV353/3040:58:00
16078Matthew CarrElvet StridersMV4027/4643:40:00
204197Peter HartElvet StridersMV4038/4645:33:00
217487Corrine WhalingElvet StridersFV3510/3046:16:00
29775Karen ByngElvet StridersFV506/1950:51:00
335347Joanne PattersonElvet StridersFV3520/3053:16:00
(Visited 84 times, 1 visits today)

Harrier League, Alnwick, Saturday, March 2, 2019

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. Mud King/Mud Queen Race - click flag for more information.

photo credit: Zanna Clay
ladies
PosbibNameRace TimePackCatActual Time
1285Gina Howorth (Elswick Harriers)29:55SFV3529:55
21336Fiona Brannan33:14FFsen28:14
231276Susan Leight33:17SFV4533:17
63393Zanna Clay34:36SFsen34:36
72364Laura Jennings34:43SFsen34:43
100333Elaine Bisson35:08FFV4030:08
102360Katy Walton35:09MFV3532:29
150384Stef Barlow35:46SFV4535:46
1581132Corrine Whaling35:52MFV3533:12
162338Fiona Shenton35:55SFV5535:55
192374Rachael Bullock36:25MFsen33:45
198376Rachelle Mason36:34MFV4033:54
232378Roz Layton37:12SFV6537:12
247387Susan Davis37:25MFV5534:45
252370Natalie Bell37:27MFsen34:47
257383Sarah Fawcett37:33SFV5537:33
260346Jan Young37:38SFV6537:38
262391Victoria Jackson37:39SFV3537:39
311322Ashley Price-Sabate39:00SFV5039:00
343380Sam Askey40:36SFV4040:36
359394Zoe DewdneyElvet Striders 41:12SFV35 41:12
378345Jan Ellis42:36SFV5542:36
396316Alison Smith44:17SFV4044:17
photo credit: James Lee
men
PosbibNameRace TimePackCatActual Time
1208Joseph Woods (Blyth RC)36:31SMsen36:31
11504Stephen Jackson40:23FMV3535:23
47506Stuart Ord42:03MMsen39:33
66498Rory Whaling42:25SMV4542:25
92476Michael Littlewood42:54MMV4040:24
147429Allan Renwick43:44SMV4543:44
171452Georgie Hebdon44:14FMsen39:14
186507Stuart Scott44:26MMV3541:56
191453Graeme Watt44:31FMV4039:31
2381597James Lee45:12MMV4042:42
303436Conrad White46:34SMV6046:34
308451Geoff Davis46:47SMV6046:47
312442David Gibson46:56SMV5046:56
3261733Robin Parsons47:25SMV3547:25
328425Aaron Gourley47:26SMV4047:26
373479Mike Bennett49:06SMV6049:06
386493Richard Hockin49:27SMV6549:27
394469Mark Payne49:50SMV3549:50
406501Simon Dobson50:25SMV4550:25
409473Matthew Carr50:32SMV4050:32
420459Jonathan Hamill50:50SMV4050:50
481463Lindsay Rodgers54:14SMV5054:14
485509Tim Matthews54:24SMV5554:24
491460Jordi Sabate Villaret54:45SMV5054:45
495511Trevor Chaytor55:05SMV5555:05
499435Chris Shearsmith55:37SMV4055:37
5281675Adam Bent61:15SMV6061:15
534503Stephen Ellis62:49SMV6562:49
(Visited 31 times, 1 visits today)

Harrier League, Thornley Hall Farm, Saturday, February 9, 2019

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. Mud King/Mud Queen Race - click flag for more information.

results

ladies

posbibNameRace TimePackCatActual Time
11258Stephanie Lawrie (Victoria Park Glasgow)27:42SFsen27:42
14336Fiona Brannan32:55FFsen27:55
17388Susan Scott33:18SFV4033:18
221132Corrine Whaling33:36SFV3533:36
27335Emma Thompson33:47FFV3528:47
311276Susan Leight33:57SFV4533:57
54390Tricia Everett34:44MFV3532:04
69389Tasmin Imber35:11SFV4035:11
82333Elaine Bisson35:33FFV4030:33
107372Nina Mason36:02MFV4033:22
117382Sarah Davies36:13MFV5033:33
130360Katy Walton36:33MFV3533:53
142370Natalie Bell36:55MFsen34:15
169374Rachael Bullock37:58MFsen35:18
174346Jan Young38:06SFV6538:06
192383Sarah Fawcett38:49SFV5538:49
193391Victoria Jackson38:49SFV3538:49

men

posbibNameRace TimePackCatActual Time
11807Adam Pratt (Morpeth Harriers & AC)35:21SMsen35:21
10506Stuart Ord39:10SMsen39:10
20499Sam Renwick40:28SMsen40:28
27453Graeme Watt40:48MMV4038:18
37456James Garland41:15SMV4041:15
60483Paul Evans41:59SMV3541:59
75472Matthew Archer42:15SMV3542:15
147476Michael Littlewood43:30MMV4041:00
154478Mike Barlow43:33SMV4543:33
162429Allan Renwick43:40SMV4543:40
168498Rory Whaling43:47SMV4543:47
192439Danny Lim44:12SMV3544:12
2071852Mark Griffiths44:30MMV4042:00
258485Paul Swinburne46:05SMV4046:05
260507Stuart Scott46:06MMV3543:36
2631733Robin Parsons46:12SMV3546:12
267442David Gibson46:21SMV5046:21
270436Conrad White46:26SMV6046:26
330440Dave Halligan48:55SMV5548:55
331479Mike Bennett48:58SMV6048:58
351493Richard Hockin50:03SMV6550:03
359473Matthew Carr50:30SMV4050:30
387501Simon Dobson51:35SMV4551:35
412511Trevor Chaytor53:28SMV5553:28
4181599Neil Garthwaite53:51SMV4553:51
419475Michael Hughes53:55SMV5053:55
465503Stephen Ellis69:36SMV6569:36
(Visited 30 times, 1 visits today)

Brass Monkey, York, Sunday, January 13, 2019

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. Endurance Champion Race - click flag for more information. Half Marathon

Jo Robertson

Having only joined Striders towards the back end of 2018 Sunday 13th January marked my first race in the purple and green vest. Not knowing many people and complete with my shiny new Striders hoody I arrived super-early so as not to miss the bus to Brass Monkey 2019.

I’ve never really described myself as a runner, so joining a club was a big deal for me. I’d done some running prior to having my children (a couple of GNRS back in 2013 & 2014 – one of which is best never to be mentioned again and a handful of 10ks) but always seemed to find myself injured.

The last 12 months have been different. Coming back from having William, I have done a lot of running. Significantly slower than I used to try to run, I have learned to love it and this led me to joining Striders and getting up at silly o’clock in October to try and get a place in Brass Monkey. Well okay – I was up anyway with an 11-month-old, but it was still very early! I was keen to have something to aim for over the winter to keep me going out when the nights were dark and cold and so was delighted to get a place.

Having done the GNR 2018 in 2hr10 (including having to stop for the loo!) I knew I would likely go a little faster and the intention was to do my best but to try and relax/not worry about time. I had in mind to work towards the magical sub 2 hour half later in the year after trying to build up some speed and so decided to run the race without looking at my watch and just go by feel. I seem to not be very good at the battle inside my head during a race. I see a fast pace and spend the whole time worrying I’ll blow up – which then of course I do or I see a slow pace and spend the whole time thinking I’m not good enough. Perhaps only recently have I truly realised how much of running is mental strength.

Anyway, Sunday morning was here and the weather was really very warm for January. It was certainly windy but the potential 40mph gusts didn’t worry me too much as this was about enjoying the race no matter what. Brass Monkey is a very well organised race with lovely indoor facilities and a massive Striders contingent. I certainly don’t feel like I don’t know anyone anymore! Having been chatting at the start I met another lady who was also going to run without her watch and although I knew she was quicker than me I thought I could probably stick with her for at least the first few miles, so I wasn’t on my own.

The race itself is fast and flat apart from two tiny hills at the beginning, which they then take, away and double in size in time for people coming back on the return leg. The marshalls are amazing and so supportive. Harriet who I was running with said thank you to everyone and I soon started joining in this, adding to the enjoyment. I knew we had set off pretty quickly as I could see other Striders near me who I know are speedy people but I felt fine and the chat was good so was happy to keep it up for a while. My inner voice started at about mile 3 where I was worried I was holding Harriet up and encouraged her to run on. She, in turn, tried to encourage me to leave her and run on which settled my anxiety for the next few miles. A quick stop for water seemed to settle my breathing too and the next few miles flew-by still feeling strong. I did see the main clock at the halfway point and knew we were going well but didn’t give it any further thought. The second half is always harder anyway, and no matter what time you get in they give you a lovely T-Shirt.

Mile 9 onwards became harder but still manageable. I had no idea what speed we were going but had a sense we must have slowed, as I was still feeling okay. The gap between us and the Striders ladies in front wasn’t growing though, so who knows. By now we were onto a very interesting discussion about veganism so there wasn’t much time to ponder it further.

At about 11.5 miles Harriet fell a couple of meters behind me and encouraged me to go on. I really struggled with this as we had run so far together and I knew that the main reason I was feeling good was that of the support she had given me. I also knew though that I would have wanted her to go on if she could have and that by that point we were both clearly going to finish so I did push on and sped up a little.

It was really hard work now but my training was paying off as I did still have something to give. With just under half a mile to go, I finally decided to look at my watch. I couldn’t believe the time and nearly started crying right there in the street. With the distance left it was looking pretty certain that I’d be under 2 hours. A barrier I never thought I would be able to achieve. Turning into the racecourse and hitting the worst headwind of the day wasn’t enough to stop the joy at this point and I crossed the line in 1:56:57.

Looking at my splits now I can’t believe how strong and consistent we were. I know for a fact I wouldn’t have let myself go that fast if I had been looking at my watch. I’m utterly over the moon with how it went, thoroughly grateful to Harriet and all the other Striders support we got on the way around and maybe, just maybe, have a little more belief in myself. I’m still not calling myself a runner though… 😉

Pos.Finish timeChip timeParticipantCategoryPace
1 Male1:09:441:09:42Adrian Bailes
BIRTLEY AC
5:19 min/mile
1 Female1:14:581:14:57Becky Briggs
CITY OF HULL AC
5:43 min/mile
1401:13:2601:13:24Stephen Jackson(M) V355:36 min/mile
3401:16:1501:16:13Gareth Pritchard(M) V355:49 min/mile
4901:17:2901:17:27Michael Mason(M) V405:54 min/mile
7101:19:2201:19:18Graeme Watt(M) V406:03 min/mile
10001:20:5801:20:54Michael Littlewood(M) V406:10 min/mile
18701:25:0901:25:04Stuart Scott(M) V356:30 min/mile
20101:26:1401:26:07Matthew Archer(M) V356:35 min/mile
22101:26:5801:26:48Barrie Kirtley(M) Open Senior6:38 min/mile
22701:27:0901:26:58Allan Renwick(M) V506:39 min/mile
30001:29:3301:29:20Andrew Hopkins(M) V406:50 min/mile
32201:30:3201:30:20Rory Whaling(M) V456:54 min/mile
38201:33:4901:33:14Juan Corbacho Anton(M) V357:09 min/mile
43501:35:4401:35:20Michael Anderson(M) Open Senior7:18 min/mile
49501:38:1601:37:38Mark Payne(M) V357:30 min/mile
50601:38:2501:37:53Andrew Davies(M) V407:30 min/mile
53001:39:1901:38:57Sarah Davies(F) V507:34 min/mile
53401:39:3601:38:58Natalie Bell(F) Open Senior7:36 min/mile
56101:40:2401:39:49Louise Morton(F) V357:39 min/mile
70101:44:3901:43:39Clare Wood(F) V407:59 min/mile
75201:46:1201:45:29Peter Hart(M) V408:06 min/mile
75301:46:1501:46:15Chris Shearsmith(M) V408:06 min/mile
75401:46:1601:45:32Mark Foster(M) V408:06 min/mile
77401:47:0601:46:07Corrine Whaling(F) V358:10 min/mile
78401:47:1701:46:33Matthew Carr(M) V408:11 min/mile
80201:47:4801:47:03Nick Latham(M) V458:13 min/mile
94001:52:1801:51:42Mick Davis(M) V458:34 min/mile
95301:52:3901:51:40Roz Layton(F) V658:35 min/mile
97401:53:2801:52:21Helen Parker(F) V408:39 min/mile
99701:54:1601:53:15Sue Gardham(F) V408:43 min/mile
106001:56:4001:55:33Trevor Chaytor(M) V558:54 min/mile
109001:57:3901:56:28Anna Seeley(F) V358:58 min/mile
111601:58:2401:56:57Joanne Robertson(F) V359:02 min/mile
112801:58:5201:57:01Louise Barrow(F) V359:04 min/mile
115802:00:1901:59:13Lisa Sample(F) V359:11 min/mile
119102:01:3802:00:11Joanne Patterson(F) V359:17 min/mile
127202:05:5502:05:55Adam Bent(M) V659:36 min/mile
129402:07:1102:06:05Carolyn Galula(F) V459:42 min/mile
130302:07:2702:06:20Wendy Littlewood(F) V409:43 min/mile
132402:08:5902:07:32Rachel Coy(F) V359:50 min/mile
134002:09:4202:09:42Alan Smith(M) V709:54 min/mile
135402:11:0102:09:00Kimberley Wilson(F) Open Senior10:00 min/mile
135602:11:0202:09:02Robin Linton(M) Open Senior10:00 min/mile
153302:33:0402:33:04Sophie Dennis(F) Open Senior11:41 min/mile
153602:35:0902:33:04Catherine Smith(F) V4011:50 min/mile
153702:35:0902:33:04Kerry Barnett(F) V4511:50 min/mile
155002:43:5202:41:56Anne-marie Fisher(F) V3512:30 min/mile
(Visited 101 times, 1 visits today)

Observations of an Accidental Cross Country Runner, Druridge Bay & Aykley Heads, Saturday, November 17, 2018

Ian Butler

Not holding hands, but a rolling road block of StridersMany years ago, when I got sent to jail, I didn’t take it at all well. I refused all offers of food and drink, spat and swore at anyone who came near me and burst into tears. That was the last time that I ever played Monopoly with my big sister!

I have always had a very competitive streak, and whilst resorting to tears to gain a win at Monopoly may have shown determination as an 8-year-old, that positive approach to push my self to try and win has stayed with me all my life.

I don’t generally burst into tears now, as a tactic to be used to achieve sporting success, as a general lack of sporting talent and advancing age puts a stop to my unrealistic ambitions. However. I do like to push myself and try new things and the latest outlet for my competitiveness is unbelievably cross-country running and the Harrier league.

For those of you unfamiliar with this pastime, it involves men and women congregating in a wet field in the middle of winter, donning a thin vest with the club name on it, and then running around a series of hills and bogs lined with tape before crossing a finishing line. Some of the more sadistic courses have more mud than others, have heavy rain and gale force winds organised for the day, and include a stream to jump over where crowds of spectators gather to watch some poor runner go headfirst into the mucky bilge. I have it on good authority that next year the powers that be are considering introducing an obstacle to cross while under fire from a machine gun or water cannon.

The basics of the races are that they are divided into men and women’s races. Each race is handicapped, with 3 groups setting off at timed intervals.

The first group off are the normal people or slow group, to go by the official title. Why it’s called the slow group I’m not sure, as looking at the field it seems to have everyone from the carthorses, like me, who plough their way around, to some super fast individuals who run around like whippets. The second group, known as the Middle group, set off a couple of minutes later and in hot pursuit of the slow group. The final group, known as the fast group, consisting of stick thin prime athletes, then set off 2 minutes later in very hot pursuit of the leading groups.

The idea I think is that the handicap system should create a leveller playing field for all, with clubs scoring points by getting their first 4 athletes over the finish line, whilst those, not scoring points are there to generally get in the way of others.

Personally, I think the handicap system should change, as my experience is the fast ones seem to steam past me as if I’m stood still, usually on the first lap of three. My recommendation would be that the middle and fast groups should have to carry weighted rusk sacks and an assault rifle. That would be a fair approach in my view, and at least give me more of a chance of helping out the team.

Previously, I had not run in the harrier league owing to work commitments, plus I was a wuss on wobbly ground from a couple of dodgy ankles caused when I was testing out a pair of Addidas Bambers many years ago. Therefore, when I heard about the cross-country league I decided that I would give it a go, but that I needed both the kit to run securely over rough ground and some guidance from the experts.

The Kit

The kit is basic from what I can tell. All you need is a club vest, (which must be worn during the race) and a pair of simple running shoes designed to disperse and give you grip on mud, water and slime.

The shoes can be picked up quite cheaply from running shops. My pair of cheapo shoes has really given me confidence in mud running, but I still have to look down and really concentrate on the 2 meters in front of me as to where I put my feet.

The Training

I needed to get confidence on the ups and downs of hills and rough ground, and so this year I joined the Monday lunch training sessions presided over by Geoff and Elaine. These sessions I found massively helpful.

Fig 1 – Receiving advice on my race start

The training group tends to consist of like-minded victims, who are generally directed by the Professors of Cross Country to run up or down a hill (Or both) in a set time or for a set distance, in order to gain fitness and improve skill levels on rough ground. Top tips on how to do this without breaking your neck are also freely given. Generally, these sessions turn me into a gastropod, huffing along and giving me a sweaty and slimy stinky sheen.

However, the advice is brilliant, and the benefits are massive, and I have certainly gained benefit from these periods of torture.

The Venues

So far I have done 2 events, Druridge Bay and Aykley Heads.

The experience at both is similar.

On arrival, the first job is to tackle the maze known as the club village and find the club tent. This tented community is a bit like a disorganised scout camp, where you need a compass, map and detailed grid coordinates to find your club abode. Usefully, all the tents look the same, but luckily each club proudly displays their club flag for all to see, so after wondering around for half an hour, you will find the home of Elvet Striders and familiar faces.

Considering that up to 50 plus Striders may attend these races, and use the tent to shelter from the rain and to change into their kit, then the 10ft by 10ft space is no Dr Who Tardis. However, there is room to take your tracky bottoms off and pin your race number to your vest, so it serves a valuable purpose.

Race Tactics

I think I heard Geoff Davis once say in his best Churchillian accent, ‘I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat’.

I understand he may also have said the following, ‘ We shall go on to the end. We shall run at Wrenkenton, we shall run at Druridge Bay and Aykley Heads, we shall run with growing confidence and growing strength on the hills and across the streams, we will never surrender’.

So, its very clear to all that there is club pride at stake in our participation in the Harrier League, and that the individual participation is for the greater good of the team and the club. That is one of the great things about Cross Country.

Whether you are the faster or slower runner, what struck me is that this is a team game, with strong support for the runners in each race by fellow Striders, both running or spectating. Therefore, the encouragement is there to push yourself and execute your best race.

I have asked several people about tactics to race execution and the basic top tips I got were: –

  1. At the start, get to the front of the group in order to get a clean break rather than getting bogged down in the crowd. That way, you are ahead and other runners then have to make up ground to pass you.
  2. On a 3 lap race, if you can’t do a reconnaissance and run the route beforehand, then on lap one suss out the lie of the land, but don’t compromise your pace to achieve this. Then once the ground is known, really put in some effort.
  3. If you are a slower runner, your contribution is still valuable for generally getting in the way and in pushing down the position of other teams runners, so don’t give up.
  4. Do not get involved with other clubs runners with any pushing or shoving, cause an Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm, or use any Threatening Words or Behaviour likely to cause Harassment, Alarm or Distress to fellow competitors or spectators. Whilst such a demonstration in the heat of the moment may make you feel better about the sod that just cut you up, in the long term you are likely to be disqualified. Basically, don’t get involved in any ‘Argy Bargy’ and save energy for the race. You can always nip into the car park after the race and let down the car tyres of your chief protagonist.
  5. Keep going to the end, and in the finishing straight try and pass others, and don’t whatever you do allow yourself to be overtaken.
Race Execution
1) Druridge Bay

Standing at the start of my first cross country at Duridge Bay, with my competitive juices boiling, I turned around and found a right Bounder stood next to me. A Blackhill Bounder to be precise by the name of Alex.

Alex is a 20-year-old young whippersnapper. I’m a much much older chap. I used to be his boss at work, and during our conversations about important things, like ‘what did you have for your tea last night?” and ‘what did you do at the weekend?’, it became clear that we had some common ground. We both had done some triathlons, run similar races and followed sports in general, plus we knew many common acquaintances and generally got on well. The only problem was that he was under the great misconception that by virtue of my age that I was some sort of sporting guru and athlete, rather than a bit of an incompetent sporting dabbler.

With that in mind, personal pride was at stake and it was clear that I simply had to beat him around the course.

At Druridge Bay, the ground was quite solid, so as predicted I set off far too fast because I never learn, and because the slow pack is not slow enough, and so I got pulled along with the group. I said to my self, ‘YOU IDIOT’, but I ran the first lap quite well and was able to stick with the pace and determine the lie of the land.

I was also conscious that I was ahead of ‘Whippersnapper ‘, but I was not prepared to turn around and see how far ahead I was, so into the second lap I dug in and started to make some ground on others in the slow group. At the same time, several high-speed medium and fast pack runners passed me in a blur, making me feel great.

Six miles is a good distance for me, as through racing I now know I can keep a decent pace going, and even push on a bit towards the end. On entering the third lap I felt quite good and began to make ground on a couple of others, but there was a group of 3 or 4 runners who I just could not catch. As I accelerated, a little so did they and I simply could not close that 20 to 25-metre gap. However, I was spurred on and remembered the rules I had been told, namely don’t get overtaken, and don’t give up, despite the pain.

By some miracle, as we moved into the last 400m I found myself making ground on the 3 others directly ahead, and as I moved into the final straight I saw that I was closing rapidly. I then sprinted (not really) the last 20 meters, pulled an effort making face, and just as we reached the line they each slowed down allowing me to pass them just before the finish line and take the win in a loud grunting and gasping shout.

Fig 2 – Crossing the line at Druridge Bay

Take it easy and steady-on there lad!’ shouted the man with a clipboard at the finish. I’d got them on the line as directed to do so, and the man called me a lad, so I was happy. Additionally, I had beaten the Whippersnapper.

My competitive juices were well and truly oiled and I looked forward to my next test at Aykley Heads.

2) Aykley Heads

I know the lie of the land very well here, and that was the problem. I know it can be a complete ‘b_ _ _ _ _ _ d of a route, with many ups and downs, grassy molehills, mud and general rough terrain. Therefore, it is a great lung bursting challenge and not one to be missed!!

I followed race tactics as planned, namely, I again went off too fast, but was able to keep a steady pace going. even on the undulating sections after the first mile or so. However, I was very unsure going downhill, on rough ground and my natural instinct to hold back to protect my ankles certainly slowed me down. Unlike others, I simply did not trust my ability and speed downhill; hence I was overtaken on the down sections, whereas on paved surfaces I have much more confidence with speed.

This was really the story of laps 1 and 2 for me.

The most notable aspect of the race was the support given by the marshals and spectators to Striders as we ran around the circuits. It was truly inspiring to have that support. Shouts of ‘Well done Striders’ or ‘Come on Striders’ were heard around the whole course, In addition, shouts of ‘you’re looking good Striders’, although descriptive, certainly did not tell the story of how I felt at the time.

The most curious shout came on the third lap. By this time I was wondering what the heck I was doing here on a Saturday afternoon. But by this time all the faster runners had passed, and I was in a sort of bubble of other similar runners who had gone around together and kind of formed a brotherhood in adversity. This group included a bald-headed bloke in a luminous vest, a Red Kite Runner, and a chap in a red-hooped vest who looked like a bumblebee. In support, I found my self-running alongside fellow Strider Daniel Mitchel and we kind of kept each other supported as we dragged over the undulating sections.

As we ran downhill side by side, a helpful Strider marshal shouted ‘ Stop holding hands and get on with it’. Little did this fellow know that we had applied race tactics and formed a Strider running rolling roadblock, aimed at preventing others from passing, and threatening our faster teammates ahead. This tactic actually worked and kept others at bay for quite a long time until the final leg uphill leg along the railway line.

Then it was an uphill slog over the hill and down through the woods to the final ascent of the finishing climb, which I managed to plod up. Once on top of the hill and on the flat I saw a few of our bubble of runners ahead and somehow managed to overtake them. As I entered the finishing straight, I was really conscious of someone on my inside trying to pass, but I managed to put in a real spurt and hold them off over the finishing line. I felt that I had won the Olympics, and not come in 421st out of 570 finishers.

It’s fair to say that Cross County has met my competitive urges. It’s certainly better than playing Monopoly and running the risk of being sent to jail.

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Harrier League, Gosforth Park, Saturday, October 27, 2018

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. Mud King/Mud Queen Race - click flag for more information.

Results

men

PosbibNameRace TimePackCatActual Time
1852Matthew Briggs (Morpeth Harriers & AC)34:18SMU2034:18
24452Georgie Hebdon37:50MMsen35:20
64504Stephen Jackson39:07FMV3534:07
68483Paul Evans39:10SMV3539:10
76453Graeme Watt39:20MMV4036:50
78506Stuart Ord39:25SMsen39:25
96456James Garland39:39SMV4039:39
100472Matthew Archer39:43SMV3539:43
154480Neil Sleeman40:28SMV4040:28
161507Stuart Scott40:32MMV3538:02
180434Chris Callan40:43FMV3535:43
241429Allan Renwick41:31SMV4541:31
247470Mark Warner41:36MMV3539:06
274467Mark Griffiths41:59MMV4039:29
305451Geoff Davis42:31SMV6042:31
324455Jack Lee42:54MMsen40:24
326461Juan Corbacho42:55SMV3542:55
355436Conrad White43:29SMV6043:29
414444David Lumsdon45:09SMV5045:09
415442David Gibson45:11SMV5045:11
438501Simon Dobson45:53SMV4545:53
474430Andrew Davies46:46SMV4046:46
479479Mike Bennett46:57SMV6046:57
481445David Oxlade46:59SMsen46:59
486481Nick Latham47:08SMV4547:08
4961596Graeme Walton47:29SMV4547:29
500460Jordi SabateStriders47:37SMV50 47:37
501493Richard Hockin47:39SMV6547:39
533509Tim Matthews49:21SMV5549:21
541511Trevor Chaytor49:43SMV5549:43
546486Pavlos Farangitakis49:52SMsen49:52
552466Mark Foster50:09SMV4050:09
586490Peter Mcgowan52:25SMV5552:25

ladies

PosbibNameRace TimePackCatActual Time
11024Danielle Hodgkinson (Wallsend Harriers)26:06MFsen23:36
23382Sarah Davies30:23SFV5030:23
65319Anna Basu31:34MFV4529:04
67371Nelli Bala31:34SFsen31:34
82372Nina Mason31:53SFV4031:53
102360Katy Walton32:22MFV3529:52
131337Fiona Jones32:48MFV4030:18
163338Fiona Shenton33:24SFV5533:24
173320Anna Mason33:34SFV4533:34
1831132Corrine Whaling33:49SFV3533:49
184370Natalie Bell33:50MFsen31:20
211384Stef Barlow34:14SFV4534:14
2291169Emma Lecavalier34:31SFsen34:31
231348Jenny Search34:33SFV4034:33
262317Angela Dixon35:11SFV4035:11
273377Rebecca Talbot35:49SFV4035:49
306346Jan Young36:37SFV6536:37
330380Sam Askey37:23SFV4037:23
331391Victoria Jackson37:24SFV3537:24
366350Joanne Patterson38:28SFV3538:28
417316Alison Smith41:32SFV4041:32

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