Category Archives: half-marathon

D-Day 75th Anniversary Commemorative Run, Druridge Bay, Saturday, June 8, 2019

Half Marathon

Ian Butler

Growing up in the 1960’s and 1970’s was not all about long hair, flares and discos, and worst of all the Bay City Rollers. For me and the vast majority of my mates it was about ‘The War’, and reliving that through our playtime.

For example, I do remember Christmas 1972, when my dad gave me an empty cardboard box as a present. He said it was an Action Man Deserter…

You see, playing with Action Man (the one with moving hand and scar, not the deserter), or manoeuvring my toy navy around the top of the landing with the theme to 633 Squadron on the record player in the background was pretty standard fare. Escaping from Colditz or watching Dads Army, The Dambusters and The Cruel Sea were required Sunday afternoon entertainment, whilst reading about the exploits of the Commandos on The Raid on St Nazaire in The Victor comic or in Commando books (Still available from WH Smith in Durham Market Place) were our text books to history. 

Whilst this may sound very jingoistic, in our defence I don’t think we could help ourselves in our passion and it really was not our fault. That is because war films, model aircraft, tanks and soldiers were representative of real events, lived by the people around us. My parents, extended family and friends lived through and served this country throughout that conflict.  Therefore, as children we were culturally conditioned through the people around us to have a deep fascination and interest in the Second World War.

I have continued with this interest in all things military to the present day being a member of the Durham Branch of the Western Front Association and the Dads Army Appreciation Society. However, over time I have developed a deeper understanding of conflict, the impact of conflict and in particular the impact upon individuals as participants of war.

Therefore when Saturn Running announced that to coincide with the 75th Anniversary of D-Day that they were organising a commemorative run at Druridge Bay, then I just had to take part and in my way pay homage to an older generation.

The generation that served did not consider they to be victims of war, nor that they were heroes, although I considered them to be my heroes. They rarely mentioned events that they had lived through, events which in many cases stayed with them for life.

My dad for instance was in the RAF, trained for D-Day on Salisbury Plain in order to build temporary allied airfields in the immediate aftermath of the invasion of France. Sadly, for him (he wanted to stay with his mates) and luckily for me, he was struck done with appendicitis and spent that period in hospital. He then went to London as part of a RAF recovery team on V1 and V2 impact sites. Yet his only war story was when he was chased by the police during the blackout for having no lights on his bicycle.
My Uncle Les was a soldier in the Hallamshire Battalion of the Yorks and Lancs Regiment. He was landed in and then evacuated from Norway during the ill fated allied expedition of 1940, served on the garrison of Iceland up to 1942, then returned to Britain to prepare for the future allied liberation of Europe. He landed in France on D Day plus 4, and took part in bitter fighting in the Normandy before the allied breakthrough in the late summer of 1944. His unit was all but wiped out to the extent that he was about to be commissioned as an officer in the field, but was blown up and wounded as his unit entered Holland.  His only war story he would tell us was about wounding himself by dropping a beer barrel on his foot whilst in Holland in preparation for the battalion   VE Day celebration.

This unassuming and quiet generation of heroes left a massive impression on me personally, from that small boy innocently playing at war with his mates, to the more considered and thoughtful adult of today.  Therefore, I just had to take part in the Operation Overlord Commemorative Run as a part of my tribute to that generation.

On the drive up to Druridge Bay the weather was simply awful, with rain tanking it down almost horizontally in a strong northerly wind. So when we arrived at the Country Park we had to dash from the car to the refuge of the visitor centre.

On dashing in to the men’s toilets I came across Paul Smith changing in to a full WW2 soldiers uniform and who was running the event in his own commemorative way. The funny thing is that I have exactly the same uniform at home as a part of my collection. I acquired mine a few years ago when I was working with Oscar winner Catherine Zeta Jones, and Knights of the Realm Sir Tom Courtney and Sir Michael Gambon, amongst others, in that classic 2016 war film, Dads Army – The British Empire Strikes Back. I didn’t actually meet any of the stars, but I was in the final marching scene at the end of the film, and if you look closely you may catch a passing glimpse of me at the back of the parade, marching behind the boy scouts.

The great thing about Saturn Running events is that you basically follow a circuit and cover the ground as many times as you like over a 7 hour period. In this case it has a 6 and a bit mile circuit around the country park and out on to the beach and back. So you could choose what distance you wish to cover, and in this case I aimed for the half marathon distance.

Druridge bay was a perfect location for a WW2 commemorative event, for during the war defences were constructed around the bay as a part of anti-invasion preparations. Defences included scaffolding barriers, anti tank blocks overlooked by pill boxes, behind which were minefields and an anti tank ditch. Thus the place has a  military history and is ideal for a running event.

After the pre-event briefing we all set off on an inland circuit of about 2 miles around the lake. My aim was to complete the half marathon, but with no time in mind I just wanted to get some miles under my belt and enjoy the route.

Although it was still raining and blustery, I found myself just behind the lead group, as many of the ultra distance runners were running at a more conservative pace.

After a lap of the lake we turned on to a service road running due north parallel with the beach, and directly in to a very strong wind, which certainly knocked the pace down a little. As I turned on to the beach I was aware of a runner coming up behind me, and so we ran the beach together with the wind now on our tail. I wanted to run a negative split with my second lap faster than the first, but with the wind and my new companion we were running far too fast on the first lap to achieve this.

He then went on to tell me in great detail about being in the army, being in a covert unit, working with the SF (Special Forces) deep under cover, and  then running faster and harder than the Para’s whilst in training. Now call me a cynic, but his unit couldn’t have been very good at being covert if he was telling me all this. I’m probably doing him an injustice, but at the end of the 2-mile stretch of the beach he said he need to stop for a quick toilet break.  He clearly had not got his pre-race ablutions sorted as we had only just started, plus I have always read that the SAS never stopped for a pee or poo or leave a trace of their presence, and if they did then it was in to a plastic bag, So I expected him to catch up with me again with a doggy poo bag in hand as I plodded back in land in to the teeth of the gale, but I never saw him again. I suppose I will never find out the truth about his military service.

I then made my way back to the start and started my second lap. I met up with a great fella who had come up from Chester and was in to ultras and marathons. He had done the Dragon’s Teeth 3 day ultra race in Wales the previous week, but had pulled out part way around with sore feet. We were going at a good pace, certainly for me, but a part of the way around the lake he started to slow with a hamstring pain. I dropped my pace to keep running with him, but found that I was holding myself back a little.

At this point a stick thin ultra type runner caught up with us and I joined him back on the beach service road and on to the beach its self. This runner turned out to be doing a marathon (plus a little bit more if he felt like it), and was certainly bombing along. It turned out that he was a head coach of the NE Marathon Club, and he provided me with some great ideas for training, and was simply a knowledgeable and friendly runner.

I matched him along the beach, but as we turned yet again in to the wind I could not match his pace. However, what I did notice was that behind me the beach was almost clear and I could not see any runners close behind, therefore I must have been quite away head of many other runners without realising it. I suppose I just got carried away with the chit chat with the other and  lost all thoughts of pace, and just hanged in.

On my own I worked my way back towards the start and over the finishing line in a time just over 1 hour 50 minutes. Whilst it was not a really fast time, I was pleased with the result, especially taking in to account the route, terrain and weather conditions, and the fact that I haven’t run much this year owing to injury. In addition, out of 68 athletes that completed the half marathon that day I finished 4th, which I find completely unbelievable.

I then picked up my commemorative medal, which is one of my favourites as it depicts the scale of D-Day though images and statistics of that day, and is a fitting tribute to the events of 1944.

This was really a good event in my view. Well-organised and very friendly, plus it highlighted that running is not just about the time or the podium finish. It can be a time for reflection and consideration, and in this case an opportunity to pay homage in a small way to a passing generation.

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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 104 times, 1 visits today)

Heart of Eden Half Marathon, Eden Valley, Northern Pennines, Sunday, October 21, 2018

Steve Ellis

Nestling at foot of the North Pennines, Appleby, famous for its annual horse fair, hosts this race. Described as a tough run by some reports, I was about to find out.

The journey across from Durham was fraught with two major road closures, one in Barnard Castle and the other on the A66 at Brough (which I later discovered, much to annoyance, was only to HGVs). These closures nearly sent my Sat-Nav into an apoplectic rage and decided to send me off on a very interesting detour. I ended up in a cul-de-sac in an industrial estate in Kirby Steven at one point and finally along some very, very narrow lanes. However, I arrived in good time at Apply Grammar school where the race started and finished.

It is a low-key affair organised by the local Rotary Club and at the start, there were just over 100 runners. The forecast rain had kept away, so I opted to run without a jacket.

The course is all on roads with only the first few hundred meters marshalled. After that, it’s a matter of keeping to the left!

Down the main street into town and through the other side where a sharp left turn heralds the long slog up to Dufton. The hills are never ending but gradual so it is simply a matter of heads down and dig-in. The views came into their own as I climbed ever higher. Hereabouts are some of the finest Pennine walks to be had. Cross Fell, High cup Nick, all on the Pennine Way of course.

As I approached Dufton at about eight miles, I was quite tired and looking forward to some gravitational relief! However before that came, as I turned out of Dufton, there appeared a 100m steep hill. It nearly stopped me dead in my tracks and after a short walk I lumbered up to the top.

Now began the return; a long downhill stretch back to Appleby. Well, mainly downhill with a few sharp surprises thrown in, including, at mile 11 a short 5-minute storm which threw the dead autumn leaves high into towering vortexes and the rain lashed down. Then as soon as it came, it stopped. Quite bizarre.

The finish leads you right back to the school hall where a commemorative mug filled with soup is presented to you and very welcome it was too. My time was 2hrs 9 mins (although my Garmin begged to differ) which I was ok with. The official elevation figures site 262m and I won’t argue about that. Put into context, the GNR is approx. 107m, Coxhoe trail 114m, Brass Monkey 10m and Dent 220. So, all in all, I can’t be too disappointed.

I’m not sure if I would do this again but I recommend it from the point of view that it is well organised, well marshalled and all for a good cause in a beautiful part of the country and about 80 mins from Durham, normally!

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Active Northumberland Kielder Half Marathon, Sunday, October 7, 2018

Kimberley Wilson

Four weeks prior to race date, I’d completed my first ever half at the Great North Run; it was definitely an experience. I can’t say an enjoyable one.

I’d signed up for Kielder half quite a bit in advance thinking it’d be good to do another half a few weeks after my first. I was told it’ll be tough, there are lots of hills and the terrain isn’t great.

The lead up to the race, I really wasn’t looking forward to it, my mojo had disappeared after GNR and I just knew I wouldn’t be able to run a good run.

I was running the full race with my other half, Robin Linton, as Kielder has some sentimental value to us both. We had no plan other than to just get around it.

The night before, I boldly said I wanted to beat my time, which Robin told me not to get too hung up on because the course is so much different.

We set off on our way at a nice steady pace, which I was sure I’d be able to keep all the way around. The first four miles were actually quite nice and they went by so quickly. In my head, I was thinking this is going to be okay. The tactic was to take a slow run up the hills, use the downhill for speed and normal running on the flats. It really seemed to be working. People that had passed me in the first few miles were now starting to get behind me but I still felt strong. The ups and downs continued and they were tough; mile 8 of the zigzag was definitely the hardest.

Around 8/9 miles, I remember taking an isotonic drink and thinking how tasty it was, at the same time I was wondering how I still felt so good and strong. I was really enjoying the race.

As we got to about mile 9/10, Robin’s knee really started to give him hassle. I was trying my best to take his mind off it, but he was in pain. We slowed down a little, but I had to keep moving because of the inclines. I was a couple of yards in front and could see the pain on his face, so I turned around and went back to him. He told me that I had to go on, that I had a PB in me and he’d be fine. I was a mixture of emotions, felt awful leaving him but was determined to finish the race. After a quick kiss of good luck, I headed off on my last 3 miles.

They were definitely hard but I just couldn’t stop thinking about Robin. Lots of music we both loved was playing through my headphones and I just thought, get this done and go back for him. I really pushed those last miles, this time attacking the hills, as I knew it was only 5k left.

I got to the 800m marker and people were walking. I stormed passed, with a few people shouting go on!

Approaching the finish line I saw a worried mother (Helen Linton). The first thing I shout is he’s okay! I had a sprint finish over the line and I see a friendly strider face…Wendy Littlewood. I just hugged her and burst into tears whilst struggling to get my breath. I’m telling her (between the tears) that I’d left Robin and felt awful. She then turns me round to show me the time, it’s showing as 2:11. I couldn’t really register it but what she’s telling me it’s amazing. I just hung onto her; I needed that so much. After finally letting her go, to let the other runners have some of her time, I stumbled to get my race bag, trying to keep the tears in.

I actually couldn’t believe I was over 2 minutes faster than GNR and this course was definitely different level. I actually really enjoyed this race and I think I’d 100% do it again with the same tactic!

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RAF Spadeadam Half Marathon 100 Year Edition, RAF Spadeadam in Cumbria, Sunday, September 16, 2018

Jonathan Hamill

Apparently, the previous organisers had turned to a local race organiser (Trail Outlaws) for some help to ensure the future viability of this race. I decided at an early stage to support it. It was to form part of the RAF Centenary celebrations on 2018 and let’s face it, you don’t get the chance, every day, to run around a historic base that was part of the UK’s missile project during the cold war.

I was also lured by the description of, “stunning views along its length, winding its way around and through Spadeadam Forest with views over to the Lake District and Sycamore Gap on Hadrians Wall. With numerous RAF practise targets and tanks along the route..”. I figured the RAF wouldn’t be doing much practicing on the day!

I set off to drive the ~1.5hr journey, stopping off at a national chain of coffee purveyors on the outskirts of Hexham for a latte and luxury fruit toast – an army marches on its stomach (oops – wrong service!)

Leaving the A69, I headed toward the base along minor roads and then encountered a tail-back – cars and passengers dealing with the security measures to access the base. Fortunately, this gave me time to stretch my legs, and don my offending compression socks (I’m amazed they let me in!).

Once through the gate and parked up, I collected my number (if only every race organiser insisted on seeing a form of photo ID, we’d avoid Bill running as Ben and so-on). I then decided a warm up was in order and being a bit of a radio geek, and noting the additional hazard at one point of non-ionising radiation above 2 metres, I decided to keep my head down!

There was a bit of delay to proceedings with many a pre-race photo opportunity but before long we were lining up. Now having run an Ultramarathon a fortnight ago, and with another a week away, I decided my plan was to throttle back a little and enjoy the sights. Then we were off, up the hill past the parked cars, and up, up, up – in fact the first few miles were definitely ascent territory. Once off the tarmac, we were on lumpy gravel paths for the majority of the remainder, which were ok on the uphill (plenty of that) and on the downhill corners, enough scree to catch you out.

I remember being pleased with myself and thinking that 53 minutes for the first 10km was half sensible and then there was another series of leg-pulling uphills.

The wind was truly formidable – trees were uprooted and it was hard to run straight at times – I remember thinking that the wind would excite a RAF pilot. The highest point was around 13km and I heard one runner say something about it all being downhill from that point. Now I’ve been to a fair few of these events, and whereas there were some fast downhill stretches there were many uphill sections, including one hill near the end which caught a few folk out.

I was hitting a ~1:55 half marathon by distance, again half sensible but from my earlier warm-up, I knew I was about a mile from the finish – a typical trail race then in terms of value for distance. I decided to drop a gear on the last mile and 7 min/mile pace to the finish, feeling the value of my Hoka Speedgoat 2 cushioning.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, managed to stop for a few obligatory selfies, and actually managed to appear in the race photos looking remarkably presentable for once. In summary, not an easy route, but a great experience, with amazing views and I’d do it again in a flash.
Congratulations to Robert Allfree who was 1st Strider home and all the other Striders!

Many thanks to RAF Spadeadam for their hospitality, Hippie Nixon Photography for the photographic memories and Trail Outlaws for a great event, and a rather cool medal!

Name TimePositionGen. pos. Cat.Cat. Pos
SteveRankin
(Unattached)
01.33.1211M1
LisaTang
(Tynedale)
01.43.1181F1
RobertAllfree01.58.113733M4015
JonathanHamill02.02.414944M4022
KathrynSygrove02.09.59709F502
EricGreen02.16.499377M5015
LouiseBarrow02.19.2810521F3
LisaSample02.21.2811024F5
MalcolmSygrove02.34.14161108M5022
JaneDowsett02.38.2417563F5015
JillYoung02.38.2717664F13
MatthewCrow02.46.59201124M32
GillianGreen02.52.3120984F5020
KarenMetters03.06.4622799F4050
HelenThomas03.06.49228100F4051

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Vale of York Half Marathon Results, Sunday, September 9, 2018

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

posbibnamecatcat poschip timegun time
1835Kev Jeffress (Sunderland Harriers & AC)M351/1521:11:481:11:49
3824Stephen JacksonM352/1521:12:001:12:00
32235Chris CallanM3511/1521:19:101:19:12
371012Sarah Lowery (Rotherham Harriers & AC)F351/1111:19:521:19:56
60712Georgie HebdonMSEN20/1931:22:431:22:48
16332Michael AndersonMSEN42/1931:30:031:30:09
379857Fiona JonesF4012/1411:40:311:40:57
429223Ian ButlerM5520/711:42:291:42:43
541948Nick LathamM4566/1561:46:551:47:20
587193David BrowbankM3582/1521:48:261:49:05
675957Marita Le Vaul-GrimwoodF4520/1091:51:231:53:10
719601Simon GrahamM3598/1521:53:121:54:34
7471764Vaughn WilliamsM35101/1521:54:451:55:54
81385Stephanie BarlowF4527/1091:57:261:57:53
8791017Stephen LumsdonM45120/1561:57:521:59:46
9671400Jill RudkinF4050/1412:01:152:02:57
11071621Mark TodmanM35134/1522:07:182:09:37
14421566Julie SwinbankF35100/1112:33:492:35:00

(Visited 78 times, 1 visits today)

Great North Run, Sunday, September 9, 2018

Pam Kirkup

Striders and Friends just off the bus

The Great North Run – And The Benefit of Hindsight

Hindsight is a wonderful thing don’t you think? And it was with the benefit of hindsight – I realised quite quickly, yesterday actually – that thinking of running the GNR was extreme folly! Let’s look at the facts – I hadn’t done a serious race since 2017, the Coniston 14 in March. Since then I did the Beer Belly run, a fun run in Consett – 5K of fancy dress mayhem on August Bank Holiday 2017, and a couple of park runs this year. I had to defer my GNR number for last year. So there I was in the late spring this year, my knees had at last started behaving themselves, so I thought, hey, I’ll start training for the GNR. After all I would have paid over £100 for the same number.

Pam's Black Eye from the 2015 GNRSo around 2 months of training commenced, basically starting from scratch. My longest run (last weekend) was 9 miles on the Waskerley Way, painfully slow. But I thought, what the Hell, I’ll get round. The plan was to start very slow, and to walk up the hills. Or to do Allan Seheult’s run 5mins walk 2mins plan. I had serious doubts all last week but I thought – what’s the worst that could happen … another black eye?? After all, it was plastered all over the walls of Howtown Outdoor Ed Centre when I was a young teacher “A quitter never wins; a winner never quits”. So no quitter, I thought just do it.

Sunday dawned and I pitched up for the bus. Arriving at the start there was the usual stampede for the toilet cubicles (with many repeat visits!). At first the weather was uncertain – rain or sun? Or both, as it turned out. Eventually, I went to my number area (green) and my ‘pen’ group (i). Kay Cairns was there along with a few new Striders. It was a long wait with rain, then sun, then more rain … and the Red Arrows. It took around 35 minutes of walking to cross the start line, mostly walking. And then we were off. I didn’t even start my watch but I realised pretty quickly that my ‘start slow’ plan wasn’t working. On the Tyne Bridge I spotted that my number/pen group were following the pace flags for 2h25 and 2h 35 – surprisingly close to each other. I was thinking about 3hours (pathetic I know!) but realistic. So I slowed down and after the Tyne Bridge walked up to the Felling Bypass. By then, Mo would approaching the last mile and a sub hour victory!

So far so good. It was warming up and I got to Heworth ok with the run/walk plan. It was when I got to Whitemare Pool that things began to unravel. I was hot and I was starting to feel achy. I thought it was the beginning of cramp. Very soon just about everything below the waist began to tighten up and ache. By then I was walking. I trotted into a St John’s Ambulance tent and explained that I thought I was cramping up and could I have a painkiller? “Oh no” they said, “ We couldn’t possibly give you Ibuprofen!”. “To protect my kidneys?” I asked. (You see I do listen Paul Evans!!). “That’s right”, they said. So they applied something topically to my legs and lower back. I have no idea what it was, there was no smell and it could well have been a placebo, but it did seem to work, for a short while. They also gave me an electrolyte drink and sent me on my way. By the time I got to the John Reid Road and around 8 miles I was struggling. My legs really hurt and running was just so painful. So walking and the odd period of jogging ensued for the rest of the way. I’d had lots of spectators shouting encouragement and calling out my name. And around 9 miles I heard “Pam Kirkup, Elvet Striders, what are you doing back here? Get a bloody move on”! I have no idea who it was but it was both flattering and encouraging but also a little bit disheartening. I knew I could do much better. By the time I got to 10 miles I began to think ‘no this is not cramp it’s just extreme muscle fatigue’. I kind of imagined my legs screaming out at me “No! Enough already! What are you playing at? We’re not prepared for this”. And if muscles could speak they would have been right. My training had been minimal and I just didn’t have the stamina or the endurance to get around without causing this level of pain and discomfort.

When I got to the horrible hill at mile 11 I looked around me and thought, ‘Yes I’ve found my level’. Nobody was running – young, old, slim, overweight – everyone was walking. And then we got to the Elvis Impersonator at the top of the hill. I didn’t actually see him but the song ‘King Creole’ was belting out. The last time I ran the GNR his song was ‘The Wonder of You’ which, in my case, would have been somewhat ironic this year!

I had hoped to run down the hill to Marsden and along the last mile to the finish but by then my legs had seriously gone. I managed a few hundred yards but then I realised I was wobbling so much that walking was the best I could do. I did think they might give way but I got to the finish and then lurched off to the baggage bus for my stuff.

I got to the pub after a very slow walk – mainly the crowds –to Bents Park and then up the hill to the Look Out. I’m not a beer drinker but I have to say, the restorative powers of a pint of lager are amazing. By the time we left the leg wobble had gone and the pain was receding.

Positives – at least I finished even though it was tempting to jump on one of the hoppers taking struggling runners to the finish; I managed to avoid the burly nutters and thugs so wasn’t pushed over and no black eye; I have recovered quite quickly – no pain today; and it hasn’t put me off. It’s just made me realise I have to do much more consistent training for such a race. Maybe I should do a few 10Ks and build up. From nothing to a half marathon like the GNR is probably foolish – with the benefit of hindsight!

posbibnametime
11MO FARAH (Newham & Essex Beagles AC)00:59:27
1201VIVIAN CHERUIYOT01:07:43
47675Gareth Pritchard01:16:46
99655Michael Littlewood01:20:40
3145897Sam Renwick01:26:57
6241138Allan Renwick01:31:25
625634Mark Warner01:31:26
6935047Barrie Kirtley01:32:15
938864stuart scott01:34:28
10274843Bryan Potts01:35:06
12873317MATTHEW ARCHER01:36:57
138656649Anna Basu01:37:37
16801506Paul Swinburne01:39:18
2303478Louise Warner01:42:36
33079715Peter Hart01:46:39
33134247Louise Morton01:46:41
35226658Chris Shearsmith01:47:27
37885169Natalie Bell01:48:22
43747751David Holcroft01:50:05
440626448Lottie Middleton01:50:11
44447542Andrew Davies01:50:18
52475007Anna Seeley01:52:34
52887058Simon Marsden01:52:42
569714842Peter Matthews01:53:47
676257183Robert Gratton01:56:31
780215977Sarah Mallett01:58:56
80649312Craig Walker01:59:27
85427103Jan Panke02:00:28
86328995adam morton02:00:39
894012330Clare Wood02:01:20
900517694Angela Dixon02:01:29
93089197Trevor Chaytor02:02:09
937511633Lesley Hamill02:02:17
937611577karen byng02:02:17
103657302Robin Linton02:04:25
1099418976Ben Gary Hunt02:05:44
1139426387Kirsten Fenwick02:06:30
1152816675Sarah Fawcett02:06:46
1172012209Jane Dowsett02:07:07
1189725603Stephen Ellis02:07:27
121419299Alexander Brown02:07:56
1247214581Catherine Smith02:08:31
1253619454Letitia Ward02:08:39
1293425234Andrew Thurston02:09:17
134292224Peter Bell02:10:15
1525941780Kimberley Wilson02:13:24
1592817764John Greathead02:14:29
1658125325Faye Ward02:15:33
1674013488Rachel Boal02:15:48
1689425057lee stephenson02:16:06
1944017935Rebecca Blackwood02:20:19
1971646560Jennifer Roll02:20:46
2028939888Maria Dimova-Cookson02:21:47
2190416766Deborah Jones02:24:30
2224318345John Robson02:25:02
2238516982Adam Bent02:25:16
227678594Lee Brannan02:25:54
2301326715JAMES NICHOLSON02:26:16
2401521993Kelly Guy02:27:51
2492117092Danielle Glassey02:29:23
2498340413Alex Witty02:29:29
2531115783Wendy Littlewood02:29:58
2583517414Alan Harvey Smith02:30:58
2629513713Helen Wilkes02:31:49
2727747907Sophie Dennis02:33:32
276798001Sue Walker02:34:18
2791839401Angela Cowell02:34:43
2828126402carol holgate02:35:23
2891157943Rachel Coy02:36:34
2952727538Jane Baillie02:37:49
2998838639Louise Hughes02:38:43
3044624970David Rushton02:39:37
3046131126Christine Farnsworth02:39:38
31888302MICHAEL NICHOLSON02:42:23
3189840065karen chalkley02:42:24
3244236923Rachel Toth02:43:36
3277640184Sharon Pattison02:44:26
3289725949Joanne Porter02:44:44
3290025194Joanne Richardson02:44:44
3449659023Kathryn Hancock02:48:58
3450141083PAUL OHARA02:48:58
3573241330Jan Magee02:52:31
357378837Martin Welsh02:52:32
3735838745MARGARET THOMPSON02:57:59
3948145562Derek Isles03:07:12
3951635836Kay Cairns03:07:22
4076245510Claire Galloway03:15:27
4177539745Pamela Kirkup03:24:36
4202654172Celeste Veitch03:27:54
42115366Barrie John Evans03:29:07

(Visited 172 times, 1 visits today)

Vale of York Half Marathon, Sunday, September 9, 2018

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

Nick Latham

Vale of York Half Marathon was my first race at this distance back in 2015 and I loved the event, so wanted to pay it another visit. It’s based out of the aero club near Sherburn-in-Elmet (between Leeds and Selby), so it’s a bit of a drive to get to (about 1 hour 30 minutes from Durham), but not outrageous for a half marathon. I’d arranged to give a lift to David Browbank and Georgie Hebdon, partly to be a bit greener and partly to have company on the drive. It was a smooth journey down the A1 as one might expect for early on a Sunday morning, only punctuated by the seemingly never-ending road works in two places. Sherburn in Elmet is only 10 minutes or so off the A1, so really easy to get to.

We knew that the road to the car park was also part of the race route and the access was being closed at 9am, so setting off at 6:40am to get there just after 8am seemed like enough contingency for any travel problems; it was plenty. As we arrived, we chuckled at the apparently over-zealous marshalling in the car park as we headed over to the portaloos and registration (in that order, got to get your priorities straight). We were early enough that both queues were limited and the loos were still in a decent state, so there was an added benefit to being early.

For some reason, the aero club seemed to be a centre for the local wasp population, so once the car park entrance was closed and the announcement went up to head over to the start we trotted over to shake them off and made use of the runway for the rest of our warm-up. Conditions were cloudy and reasonably mild (mid to high teens celsius) but breezy; looking back, we had much better overall conditions than the Great North Run competitors were “enjoying” that morning. The start was scheduled for 9:30am but was delayed for about 10 minutes for people arriving late at the start. After a couple of short announcements, we were off.

Main group
Photos © and courtesy John Ashton

The course was slightly modified for this year but started in a similar way to my previous experience – we went most of the length of the runway and looped back before following the aero club roads out onto the surrounding lanes. I set off at 8 minute mile pace as that was my plan and what I intended to hold for the first half of the race. Once I’d settled into my pace, I switched to keeping tabs on my heart rate, since I know from experience how best to manage my effort through the race.

Nick Latham in the main field (Photos © and courtesy John Ashton)One of the big attractions of the course is that it’s almost completely flat. There’s one rise in the form of a bridge over the railway line which we reached just after 3 miles and appears again on the return. I eased off the pace coming up the slope and picked up a little coming down the other side before settling back into my pace.

The camber of the roads is, shall we say, interesting. In places they’re pretty flat, in others they distinctly roll off to one side or another, so at times I had to pick my line carefully to avoid running across the slope. The beauty of the smaller field (limit of 2,000) meant that after the first couple of miles it was possible to pick whatever line I wanted.

Georgie Hebdon (Photos © and courtesy John Ashton)After the railway bridge, there was a stretch through Bishop Woods, which was also where the first water station was set up. The road continued along to a crossroads shortly after 5 miles where a left turn started the loop of the lollipop-shaped course. Just after taking the turn I started on my fuelling – jelly babies – which I know I benefit from and have tried in training before. I find them less uncomfortable on my stomach than gels.

I’ve heard people describe the course as dull, but I think the area’s very attractive, with lots of open countryside, occasional housing and some variety to the views. A lot of the people who live in the area come out to watch the race and support the runners, some at junctions & turns, some at the ends of their drives. It’s a welcome boost all round the course.

Michael Anderson (Photos © and courtesy John Ashton)Just after the second water station, about halfway round the loop, I started to pick up the pace a little – about 7:50 per mile, sticking to the plan – which lasted until about the end of mile 8, when the wheels started to come off. My legs were numb and I had to ease my pace off to around 8:20 per mile just to keep my heart rate in check; I knew that if I tried to push on at the pace I wanted I would blow up way before the finish, and I had a feeling that breeze was going to play a bigger part towards the end. I gritted my teeth and concentrated on plugging on, keeping my heart rate progression where I wanted it. Over the next 3 miles or so, I managed to keep up at between 8:10 and 8:20 pace, ignoring the last water station in the woods and measuring my effort over the bridge – easing on the climb and accelerating downhill again.

That breeze I mentioned had mostly been at our backs, cross-winds or sheltered in places by the wood or the hedges. As we turned back along Bishopdyke Road, just after 11 miles, it was full in our faces and a fair bit stronger than it had been on the way out. There was still two miles to go, no prospect of shelter from the wind and dead legs. This was purgatory. Even turning a 90 degree left turn towards the aero club at 12 miles didn’t seem to help. Nothing for it but to focus on trying to keep form and cadence, dig deeper and just get to the finish. It was great to get shout outs from faster Striders who’d already finished, like Chris Callan, and other Strider supporters on the run in. From my previous running of the course, I knew where the finish was so I was able to time my final effort. I hadn’t used any of my fast-twitch fibres up to that point, so managed a respectable kick over the last hundred metres or so, but that was my lot. I left everything out on the course and that’s all I could ask of myself.

If I’d managed to pull off what I’d intended in my planning, I would have achieved a PB compared to Sunderland 2017. As it was, I came in 2 minutes slower at 1:46:55 (chip time), but beating my previous time on this course by 3 minutes. I could try to blame the wind, but I reckon it only took about 40 seconds out of me over those last two miles. The truth is that my training wasn’t enough to support my aspiration. The important thing is I’m going to take the experience and see how I can adapt my training to achieve it next time.

David Browbank (Photos © and courtesy John Ashton)Georgie was already back (a long time before me!) and David was right behind me – I was still trying to stand upright without feeling like I was going to fall over when he emerged from the goody-bag distribution. Some of the other Striders arrived too, including Simon, Stephen J & Vics and Steph. We had a chat about the race and watched the prize-giving, proudly cheering Stephen collect his prize for 3rd male. By this point, we’d cooled down and agreed it would be a good idea to be ready to escape the car park once they re-opened it. We knew the access was being shared with the race route, so might need to be patient.

Fiona Kinghorn-Jones (Photos © and courtesy John Ashton)From where we sat in the exit queue, we couldn’t see what was happening but the shouty marshals who were there when we arrived were curiously absent. Eventually there were signs of movement but mostly behind us rather than ahead as people bolted for a different exit. We eventually decided that was the better option and joined them. Once we were out, it was a smooth run back home.

The following day there was an email from the organisers which explained what had happened and why the start and parking arrangements were different to previous years. In short, they’d been denied access to a piece of land they had previously used and the aero club had stepped in at the last minute, which allowed the race to go ahead. The exit arrangements were always going to be a challenge, but were compounded by someone ignoring the road closure and then getting their car & trailer stuck in the entrance gate. The organisers have promised to learn from this year’s arrangements and improve them for future years, and I’m fully confident that they will.

Stephen Jackson on the podium (Photos © and courtesy John Ashton)Apart from the parking problems, which for us were only a minor niggle, the only downside with hindsight was that none of us thought to organise a Striders group photo before the start. I’ve tracked down some excellent photos from John Ashton, amongst which I humbly submit my own Race Face and Flying Feet nomination for this year.

I’m told the course has a lot in common with the Brass Monkey – mostly flat, one bridge, a loop to turn, a common start & finish. Perhaps with the right adjustments to my training over the next few months, that might be where I could try again to recover those lost minutes. Before I get carried away I’ll see if I can get an entry first!

posbibnamecatcat poschip timegun time
1835Kev Jeffress (Sunderland Harriers & AC)M351/1521:11:481:11:49
3824Stephen JacksonM352/1521:12:001:12:00
32235Chris CallanM3511/1521:19:101:19:12
371012Sarah Lowery (Rotherham Harriers & AC)F351/1111:19:521:19:56
60712Georgie HebdonMSEN20/1931:22:431:22:48
16332Michael AndersonMSEN42/1931:30:031:30:09
379857Fiona JonesF4012/1411:40:311:40:57
429223Ian ButlerM5520/711:42:291:42:43
541948Nick LathamM4566/1561:46:551:47:20
587193David BrowbankM3582/1521:48:261:49:05
675957Marita Le Vaul-GrimwoodF4520/1091:51:231:53:10
719601Simon GrahamM3598/1521:53:121:54:34
7471764Vaughn WilliamsM35101/1521:54:451:55:54
81385Stephanie BarlowF4527/1091:57:261:57:53
8791017Stephen LumsdonM45120/1561:57:521:59:46
9671400Jill RudkinF4050/1412:01:152:02:57
11071621Mark TodmanM35134/1522:07:182:09:37
14421566Julie SwinbankF35100/1112:33:492:35:00

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Vale of York Half Marathon, Sunday, September 9, 2018

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

Ian Butler

Trails and Tribulations – How to be a Very Amateur Athlete

Background

Since joining Striders 3 years ago and getting in to this running lark, I have often questioned my self as to whether I am an athlete or not.

I am often the recipient of letters and emails from various sporting organisations addressed to ‘Dear athlete’, and note on race applications and results lists, that athletes are participating in the same event as my self. But the fact is I just don’t see myself as one of the tribe.

A definition I have found describes an athlete as:

A person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise

However, my experiences this year whilst preparing for and taking part in races hardly demonstrates proficiency in sport, and in reality is more like a long list of complete cock-ups. Having said that, I think with the Vale of York Half Marathon, I am starting to crack it and may be on my way the being a proper athlete. I will now try and explain:

For me, an athlete must have a six pack, muscles in the right places, a square jaw and absence of numerous chins, look the part with all the right gear, and demonstrate excellence in their chosen sport. This goes back to my youth when sporting athletic hero’s looked the part and delivered. People like Brendan Foster, Linford Christie, Sally Gunnell, Kelly Holmes and Alf Tupper were in their prime, and achieving sporting greatness, and are the role models on which I measure what an athlete should be.

I conversely don’t fit in to that mould.

Firstly, my body has a bit of wear and tear, consisting of a series of sporting and work related injuries, held together primarily by scar tissue and lumpy bits. Getting out of bed in a morning, any form of sudden movement, or just walking the short distance from the bed to the loo, is always accompanied by a soft ‘Oooooh’ or “Argghhhhh’ as I manage the aches and pains and delicately try to get things moving. Once I get going, I’m fine, but the getting going gets harder with age.

Secondly, my list of athletic achievements remains short. Admittedly, I was a joint winner at the Maltby Church School wheelbarrow race (1973). I competed in the Inter-house schools cross country (1981), finishing around the back of the field limping in and ending up in hospital having 3 stitches after falling over in the mud at Roche Abbey. I completed the Raby 10k and was awarded a prize, but could not collect it as it was for 3rd finisher in the W60 section having taken a hand me down entry off a friend. I was 32 at the time.

Quite simply, I could not see myself as either athletic or an athlete.

However, things changed a little at the beginning of the year when I retired from work. With more time to focus on training I vowed to improve my running and compete more effectively in races, working to more of my strengths to help improve my fitness.

With very dodgy knees, which are painful in a morning and after longer distance runs, I simply could not risk increasing running mileage. Therefore in addition to the usual weekly runs, I focused on working very hard in spinning classes, 2 sometimes 3 times a week, and cycling in general. This helped me enormously, both aerobically and strength wise, and helped feed my competitive urge when I started to see some improvements.

A failure on my part was not to have a training plan as such. In my mind, if I worked harder, then there should be some improvement. However, as a training aid I have bought a Garmin Run / cycle / swim watch, which I have to admit is brilliant. Apart from trying to run a route, which writes my name on the Garmin Mapping Package, the advantages of the Garmin are many fold. I now know what different running paces feel like rather than second guessing, I can see performance improvement in the stats, I can see what times mates have run and rub it in that they should be faster than me by virtue of age.

In December last year, with little specific training I completed a half marathon for the first time in around 25 years in Sunderland. It killed me, and post race I could hardly walk around, with stiff legs, hips and other bits. However, I had set a marker PB, which I vowed to beat when I next competed in a similar race at some point in 2018, and the VOY Half Marathon was my target.

In the meantime, I had to do more races leading up to VOY to iron out how to do it properly, with out messing up. With that in mind, I have learnt some interesting lessons through competition:

1) Pre Race Food

Running magazines, wise wisdom and other top tips seem to advise that Carb loading is a good idea the night before a race, with a nice pasta dish being a meal of choice.

That’s all well and good, but I have a great recipe for a Chilli and baked bean sausage casserole, which I made the night before the Trail Outlaws Penshaw Monument half Marathon. As hills were expected in this race, I washed the meal down with a bottle of Wainwrights Beer.

The problems started at about 3am with some stomach gurgling.

Having taken appropriate measures I was ok until the moment 20 minutes before the race when I had a distinct need to complete a 100m dash to the toilets. I was pre prepared having taken a role of Andrex™ Best from home, but the main issues was not my ablutions, but the fact I fell off the toilet as the screws holding it to the floor came away and tipped me off. Unbeknown to me, the plumbing from the cistern was now detached, from the toilet, so when I flushed the loo, 10 gallons of water flooded the men’s toilet block. I managed to do some plumbing repairs,, but the cubicle was a mess. I’m sorry if this affected anyone at the time, but I did report it, and it wasn’t my fault, but it was a lesson learned, make sure you eat the right food before a race.

2) Pre Race Ablutions (and Post race ablutions)

The motto is be prepared, and go regularly so that the system is clear.

I thought it was clear on the Gateshead trail 10K at Blaydon, but about a quarter of the way around I had that stomach gurgling again. Whether this was pre race nerves affecting my system or what I’m not sure. The effect was that as the race went on I was running with very tense muscles, and was very close to making a dash to some tree cover to seek relief. Counting down the last kilometres was desperate. However, I eventually managed to get over the line, grabbed my medal and continued at 4-minute mile pace to the toilet cubicles.

That was another lesson learned on my way to being an athlete.

3) Water

This is a real problem for me. Not the fact that I need to take water on board, but how to take water on board at water stations. Race organisers seem to think up different innovative ways to soak me rather than feed water in.

For instance:

  • a) Paper cup – Water split all over the place and trying to drink whilst on the move always ends up with water splashing dribbling down the side of my face
  • b) Water Bottles – Always seem too big, can’t find the opening and I have to tilt my head back, missing my mouth and again dribbling water all over the place
  • c) Water pouches – As used at the Durham 10k. This was a real hard one to master, as I simply could not get the water out whilst running, so gave the damn thing a really good squeeze, resulting in a jet of water in the face and up my nose, missing my mouth completely.

My agreed approach now is that I simply don’t care, and as long as I take water on board, I’m happy.

4) Jelly Babies and other race nutrients

Race organisers like to give out nutritional treats at feeding stations, particularly Jelly babies, which in the right circumstances are great.

Personally, I bite the heads off and chew them, but the dilemma is how many do you take from the box,? And can you select the red berry ones, and ditch the green ones without losing time?

At a Trail Outlaws race I just grabbed a handful as I passed the feeding station, but had too many to eat at once with out feeling sick. Rather than chucking to them away, I decided to keep a few back, only for them to create a horrible sweaty and sticky goo in my hand.

Is it race etiquette to grab a handful, or just take a few selected ones to nibble at?

I have not worked this one out yet, so it’s work in progress..

5) Race Strategy

I’m always being given helpful advice on race strategy. Whether that relates to the pace for the race, (start out slower and finish faster; start out faster and finish slower; just hang in there for grim death), or make sure you get near the front at the start.

The reality is that I fail on race strategy on the day, other than by adopting an approach that I must beat Runner X to the finish line. Runner X being a friend from the dark side, otherwise known as Durham City Harriers.

So far it’s 2 all on the races we have caught up with each other, with me taking the 10k races, and him the half marathons. I tend to start fast and gain a lead, then he gets me as a die close to the finish line

I need some coaching on race strategy.

6) Photographs

This is a completely new concept to participation in sport, both in training and at events.

It never ceases to amaze me that so many photo opportunities exist. The only problem I have, is that I have a great face for radio.

From photos I’ve seen, I seem to manage to pull a tremendous gurning race face, look like a burglars bull dog chewing a wasp, or generally look half dead, even when I’m stationary and not even started the run.

Once I’m up and running, strategically placed photographers always manage to capture me looking as if I’m in the mid throws of collapse, or dealing with trapped wind.

A recent article in Runners World stressed the virtues and benefits of running with a smile, and the evidence of this is everywhere in photos of others, happily running with a happy carefree smile and striking new PBs.

I’m just going to have to smile more when running in order to achieve my goals.

The Race

With these observations in mind, I made my way to Sherburn In Elmet for the VOY, with a view of trying to get a new PB for the distance.

On arrival, the first thing to notice at the race start, was the total absence of Crocodiles, Father Christmases, Dinosaurs, Hen & Stag parties and runners carry fridges on their backs.

What was obvious was the number of club runners sporting their club vests. A smattering of north eastern clubs were represented, but I guess the GNR drew in many from our region. However, the race was dominated by clubs from Yorkshire, such as Steel City Striders, Grimthorpe Harriers, and Royston Vasey ACC. With the promise of a flat fast paced course, the race had clearly attracted many runners intent on going for a good time or PB.

Mayor in foreground with runners behind (Photo © and courtesy John Ashton)
Photo © and courtesy John Ashton

Getting to the start was simple. The only local celebrity available to start the race was the Mayor of Selby, who thanked everyone for coming and set off the race with his air horn.

I’m pleased to say the execution of my plans went well:-

1) Pre race food

Pasta, and no negative after effects.

2) Pre Race Ablutions

Got to the start in good time, and completed without issue.

3) Water

No problems, I just saved the hassle by pouring it over my head.

4) Jelly Babies

Avoided

5) Race Strategy

Got near the front at the start.

I went out far too fast, died at 8 miles as I turned in to the wind, but managed to keep things going and got over the line in a new PB.

Runner X got to the finish line 11 seconds ahead of me after a last ditch overtake, and that’s not got to happen next time.

Having said that I had the moral victory as he is 10 years younger than me, but I wasn’t able to articulate that well to him after the race, plus he wasn’t listening.

6) Photographs

Smiled all the way around, with evidence from the event photo gallery.

Conclusion

Its fair to say that I have learnt my lessons, shown improvement and despite several previous mishaps, have become a little more proficient in this chosen sport. If that makes me an athlete, then I am a happy runner, and role on the XC season.

posbibnamecatcat poschip timegun time
1835Kev Jeffress (Sunderland Harriers & AC)M351/1521:11:481:11:49
3824Stephen JacksonM352/1521:12:001:12:00
32235Chris CallanM3511/1521:19:101:19:12
371012Sarah Lowery (Rotherham Harriers & AC)F351/1111:19:521:19:56
60712Georgie HebdonMSEN20/1931:22:431:22:48
16332Michael AndersonMSEN42/1931:30:031:30:09
379857Fiona JonesF4012/1411:40:311:40:57
429223Ian ButlerM5520/711:42:291:42:43
541948Nick LathamM4566/1561:46:551:47:20
587193David BrowbankM3582/1521:48:261:49:05
675957Marita Le Vaul-GrimwoodF4520/1091:51:231:53:10
719601Simon GrahamM3598/1521:53:121:54:34
7471764Vaughn WilliamsM35101/1521:54:451:55:54
81385Stephanie BarlowF4527/1091:57:261:57:53
8791017Stephen LumsdonM45120/1561:57:521:59:46
9671400Jill RudkinF4050/1412:01:152:02:57
11071621Mark TodmanM35134/1522:07:182:09:37
14421566Julie SwinbankF35100/1112:33:492:35:00

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Ardbeg Islay Half Marathon, Islay, Scotland, Saturday, July 28, 2018

Mark Payne

Courtesy of Gavin Campbell

The Island of Islay is best known for its distilleries, which draw in whisky connoisseurs from all over the world. Since the mid-1980s it has also had the Islay half marathon, which judging from the results list, has its own hardcore of international fans. When it was suggested to me and my partner Becca, earlier in the year, that we might like to do this race my first thought was yes, but that’s a big journey from Durham for the weekend. If you face West from Glasgow you’re looking towards Islay but the Firth of Clyde, the Isle of Bute, the Kintyre peninsula and a bit of the Atlantic ocean are all between you and it. It was then pointed out that instead of driving 100 miles around, you can do it in a succession of ferry hops, with short distances in between that you could easily cover on a bike. Having done a fair amount of cycling in Scotland we knew that there is a “five ferries” ride that the keen complete from the mainland in a day, taking in Arran, Kintyre, Cowal and Bute. The first couple of hops towards Islay cover the start of it. This had the makings of a good long weekend adventure. So we booked a day off work, and the evening of Thursday 26th saw us in Ardrossan with bikes ready for the first ferry onto Arran the next day.

The Friday before the race was spent riding around the East side of Arran, then a short ferry crossing to the Kintyre peninsula and across to the other side before the longer ferry to Islay. Despite a surprise hill climb at Boguille in Arran (it’s a surprise if you don’t bother to wonder about the hills before you set off), this was all pretty relaxed, and we didn’t need to worry about tiring ourselves out for the race. Once on Islay itself, we were immediately in distillery country, passing a couple of famous names on the way to our overnight stay near the start in Bowmore. We didn’t stop at the distilleries, but we knew the next day’s race was sponsored by Ardbeg, so it seemed likely that a dram might be on the cards at some point.

On race day we gathered some tips on the course from our B&B host then rode the couple of miles to the start. The course is a loop that heads steeply up out of Bowmore, turns South towards Port Ellen ascending along higher ground, before dropping steeply and returning along part of the “Low Road”, a dead straight of which any ancient Roman engineer would be proud.

Although Islay has some mountainous terrain it’s on the East side of the island, so the ascent only totals about 130 m. This race has the potential to be fast, something that I had in mind as the date approached. Although we’d done a few races of half marathon distance over the last few years, none of them had had the speed potential of this one. I’d done the Durham 10k the week before, and I couldn’t say I was obviously on top form, however, it didn’t seem inconceivable that I could beat my 2007 half marathon best of just over 1hr 37. My rough plan was to aim for that pace and adjust depending on how I was feeling.

The start of the race had the friendly low-key feel that makes you appreciate seeking out these smaller events. We hadn’t left too much time for warming up, so a quick jog up and down the street and it was time to start. With a field of 124 runners, it was a novelty to be on a start line with some elbow room. This also meant that those who wanted to set off quickly could easily do so, and I quickly found myself getting pulled along a bit faster than was ideal, snaking through a few side streets, past Bowmore’s distinctive round church and out into the open countryside.

Checking my watch after the road levelled out I saw I’d done the first and steepest mile faster than my target pace but it didn’t feel too bad, and so attempted to stick with the people around me. The pace had settled down a bit, and I had the chance to look around and appreciate the view across to the mountains in the East. Although I hadn’t especially noticed the rain at the start it was clear that it was getting wet and not showing any sign of letting up. As the route descended off the first high point and turned to head south my trainers were squelching and I had the novel experience of trying to avoid the smoother bits of road, which were quite slippy in the puddles. The best that could be said for it was that after the recent heat wave it was cool! Ironically, and presumably, in response to the heat wave, I think this race had the most water stations I have ever seen. Mindful of the fact that you can’t actually drink through your skin I remembered to make use of a few of them.

The road climbed gradually until about mile 6 where we turned off towards the coast and the low road. This was a solid mile of steep downhill and I attempted to make the best of it. Turning back towards Bowmore on the level, I was disconcerted to find that my legs hadn’t taken too kindly to the downhill stomp. I was at risk of feeling sorry for myself and slowing down when I was overtaken. The race was reasonably well spread out at this stage, so this was a bit of a wake-up call and spurred me on. I also knew that the next few miles were pretty well flat and if I was going to get close to my wished-for time, this was where I’d do it. So I pushed on and stuck with the other runner who was keeping a very tidy pace.

Another runner I chatted to at the start of the race had described the low road straight as “soul destroying”. I could have seen his point if I’d been staring at a long strip of never-ending tarmac, but maybe because the misty rain was largely obscuring the view, or maybe because I was just trying to keep the pace it didn’t seem that way to me. After a while, I and my unofficial pacer acted as the wake-up call for the next runner in front, who made us a group of three for a while. This lasted until about two miles from the end of the race when the flat straight road became a slightly hilly road.

Looking at the profile after the event the final hills look insignificant but after the hard push along the flat, my legs were complaining severely. My temporary companions didn’t seem to be having the same trouble and so I had to watch them disappear off ahead. There was no way I could avoid slowing down, however, soon enough the round church was back in view and there was one final plummet down Bowmore’s main street to the finish in just under 1 hour 39.

Having collected my medal and t-shirt I saw Becca finish in a personal best time of just over 2 hours (15 seconds!). Then we retreated to the village hall to dry off and for sandwiches and the anticipated dram or, for those who really needed to rehydrate, a can of Tennents.

After an hour of recuperation, it was time to point our bikes towards the ferry. Thankfully it turns out that the muscles you need for cycling are complementary to the ones needed for running. This meant that we could make it back to Kintyre for the night, and still enjoy our ride round Cowal and Bute the next day. It’s always going to take a bit of extra effort to travel to Islay for this race, but even if you don’t cycle to get there it’s surely a good excuse to get out and explore some of the remoter parts of Southern Scotland and get a friendly, fast and scenic race into the bargain.

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