Category Archives: Trail

Coxhoe Trail Race, Sunday, September 22, 2019

10km

Simon Graham

Courtesy of Kev Morson

I can’t remember the last time I entered a 10K race. Sure, I run 10k’s as training runs, but they are normally at a nice comfortable pace. I made the decision after my last Ultra to give up on distance for a while and just focus on getting my love for running back with some shorter stuff with my ‘Long runs’ being around 10 miles unless I was at an event.

The Coxhoe Trail 10k was just a random event that I knew would see a good Strider turnout. It was local, cheap (£10), and had a nice t-shirt. It was the T-Shirt that sold it for me.

Registration was quick and easy at the Active Life Centre (formerly the Leisure Centre) in Coxhoe itself collecting race number and event t-shirt. It is then a miles walk uphill to the actual race start location. This worked quite well as a bit of a warm up.

At the start area a huge strider contingent amassed and led by Captain Michael a number of us headed out for an out and back warm up. It was at this point I was starting to feel like the odd one out. I had chosen, as I always do, to wear my striders t-shirt and not club vest. everyone else was of course in their vests. Since I don’t like wearing a vest I’d just have to be ‘unique’. Back from the warm up and now assembled on the start line we were ready to go, though I soon realised that I was far to near the front of the pack.

The 10k route spends a lot of its first mile running downhill, and starting to near the front, I of course got swept up in the initial stampede.

Running a 7:30 minute mile downhill is all good and well if you can sustain it onto the flat, I, in my current shape (round), cannot. For long anyway.

As more and more sensible runners passed me having already reached their appropriate cruising velocities I reluctantly eventually reached mine. This was after thinking about a mile in that I was on course for a 10k PB on the flat, never mind off road. Reality soon kicked in and forced me to slow to the far more comfortable 8:30ish pace on the flat.

After the initial downhill sprint (and delusions of grandeur) the Coxhoe Trail 10k course is actually really nice. It’s an out and back loop course, so head out along the flat trails, which I assume are a former railway line, drop down, and then at around 2.5ish miles start a long steady climb up to Quarrington Hill. Several runners were struggling on this climb, but I felt strong. Anyone who has ever ran a Hardmoors event would probably only consider it a minor blip on an otherwise flat section, but to those who haven’t I can understand why it was a struggle.

As said, this is an out and back with a loop, and what goes up must again come down. As I approached the summit of the climb I passed fellow Striders Ian Jobling and Lesley Charman, who obviously weren’t loving the climb as much as I. They both caught up with me as we descended, and Lesley kept with me for the majority of the rest of the race, though I kept both of them in my sights.

Down the hill, back along the flat former railway line (please someone tell me if I’m wrong) and back up the hill which I flew down at the start. Going up the hill, I again felt strong, perhaps because my delusions of grandeur had long since passed and a PB was now just a passing memory. As I eased my way up through the field I was about to pass Lesley when she suddenly let out a huge scream and pulled up in pain. Concerned I stopped to make sure she was ok, she assured me she was so I pressed on with Ian Jobling now in my sights.

I passed Ian, again on the final hill, and noticed Anna Mason was just ahead, she too looked to be struggling on the hill, and as we approached the top I shouted some words of encouragement to her “Don’t get beaten by a fat lad”. I suspect it didn’t work since I didn’t see her again.

Slightly cruel, but to finish this race you actually have to almost run past the finish and into the woods for a final loop, I did this and entered the finish field to see the Strider finish staff doing their jobs admirably.

Ok, so lessons learnt; Hills for strength, Track for speed. Guess where I’ll be headed alternate weeks on Wednesdays, even though I dislike track (sorry Allan). 
I really enjoyed this race, even though I’m not used to ‘racing’ and would recommend it to anyone.
Special Congratulations to Gareth Pritchard for 1st male and Emma Thompson for 1st Female, and to all the other Striders for some great efforts.

Click here for results

(Visited 91 times, 1 visits today)

Abraham’s Tea Room Round, Keswick, Saturday, September 14, 2019

48km/3657m

Jules Percival

Descent of Causey Pike towards Rowling End

In mid-July an email from Nigel Heppell* entitled “This one’s got your name all over it”, contained a website link to the Abraham’s Tea Room Round. “A tea room? Does that mean there is cake?” I thought wistfully….and clicked to explore further. Fast forward two months, and Nigel’s dangled carrot resulted in probably one of my most enjoyable days on the hills to date, and the reason for this report (both to cement it in my memory banks, and to tempt other folk to give it a try…).

*please note: IT WAS HIS IDEA!

Ok so here goes for the background history bit…The George Fisher store in Keswick was originally the Abraham’s photographic shop, but in 1957 George Fisher turned it into an outdoor equipment store. High up on the top floor, with spectacular views – is Abraham’s Tea Room. The view from the café is beautiful, but often obscured by the weather, so someone has painted the view above the window, and labelled all the fells that you can see on a clear day.

A remark from Alan to Jacob (who work at the store and had clearly been looking at the painting and daydreaming) apparently went along the lines of “Tell ya wat Jacob. Garn round skyline from Tea Room would be a grand day out eh?!”

This inspired the 30 mile route that starts at the front doors of the shop, it’s creation coinciding with George Fisher’s 60th Anniversary – see the George Fisher Blog.

The website states that the tops you need to ‘touch’ are: Catbells, Robinson, High Stile, Grisedale Pike, Hopegill Head (AKA Hobgarton), Eel Crag, Sail, Causey Pike, Rowling End and Barrow. You can do them in any order/sequence that you like, and successful completion of the route (photos and submission of a GPX trace as proof) is awarded with a badge, and place on their leader board.

The website states that the tops you need to ‘touch’ are: Catbells, Robinson, High Stile, Grisedale Pike, Hopegill Head (AKA Hobgarton), Eel Crag, Sail, Causey Pike, Rowling End and Barrow. You can do them in any order/sequence that you like, and successful completion of the route (photos and submission of a GPX trace as proof) is awarded with a badge, and place on their leader board.

Having had a relatively empty race calendar since my Hadrian Hundred at the end of May and no trips to the Lakes at all this year, I was feeling rather dubious about our chances; not worried about the distance, but rather by the climb…with “12,000ft +” it has over twice the amount as the Tour (de Helvellyn) which I have done a few times and is always a tough one. Was this bonkers?!

Nigel and I vaguely pondered logistics…usually in the pub after club night, and mostly without any resolution (other than continued consumption of pints and soggy thrice-fried chips). When to do it? Clockwise or anti-clockwise? Who could we rope in? Could we run it as a relay? Were we fit enough? Were we mad enough?!

As the weeks went by, summer was fading and it felt like this was a project best saved until the Spring, with better weather, longer daylight hours and more serious recces under our belts. We’d vaguely considered the 23rd September as a possible date, but long term forecasts didn’t look that hopeful, and we had agreed that – after my two previous 100 mile rainstorms – this was NOT going to be a bad weather outing. But then the Met office predicted a strange thing…was this a mini heatwave on its way? Surely not?! I emailed Nigel…. we had a weather window! would he consider an outing sooner than planned…in fact very soon…like, THIS weekend?! Shall we just go and DO IT?!
After roping in another last minute willing victim in the shape of Mike Hughes, at 5.45am on Saturday morning 14th September, we were driving down a deserted motorway bound for the Lakes, not quite sure what the day had in store. We parked in Keswick, made our way to George Fisher’s (slightly eerie walking through empty streets that were usually rammed with tourists) and took the obligatory starter selfie on their doorstep before setting off soon after 8am.

The route starts with a short run out to Portinscale village before heading up and over the top of Catbells. As we made our way up the first climb, the early morning sun was shining, spirits were high and we were all enjoying the distinct lack of tourists – a rare occurrence here! A calm Derwent Water was gleaming below us, and we stopped frequently to savour the views. If it continued like this, it was going to be a cracking day.

Top of Catbells

We descended down into Little Town in the Newlands Valley, trotted past Newlands Church and up the grassy banks of Robinson: familiar territory from leg 1 of the Bob Graham, only difference being this time I was allowed to pause for breath! After another selfie at the summit cairn – all grinning from ear to ear – we descended Robinson using an easier grassy route than the hideous slippery rock scramble down to the road that we had tried on a recce (when I had ended up on my bottom x4 times), this time taking us straight to Gatesgarth and the shores of Buttermere. Well aware of the most difficult section that lay ahead, we enjoyed a quick pie pit stop and psyched ourselves up for heading into virgin territory for the loop on the other side of the Lake.

The climb up High Stile starts innocently enough as the path contours parallel with the water, climbing gradually until you cross a fast flowing gill, but then you clamber up through the crags ..up and up…a relentless quad-burning and calf-popping climb (there was swearing), which wasn’t helped by the increasing strong winds. But the views back over the Lake (and beyond in all directions) were breath-taking, and at one point the three of us just sat down to gaze back into the valley and soak it all in. Knackering, but what better place to be on a Saturday morning?!.

High Stile Summit

After a windy summit photo stop, the only way back down was to tick off Red Pike Summit too (staggering views on the ridge line but avoid Chapel Crags edge), and the descent from here down to Bleaberry Tarn was dismal…sliding/staggering down on loose scree and rocks that smashed at your ankles and sapped the (now waning!) energy from the legs. The route back to Buttermere eventually takes you through Burtness Wood, on a never ending path of rocky steps that –with wobbly legs – was frustratingly impossible to attack with any sort of speed (if you still valued your teeth).

Ah, returning to Buttermere was a relief! All feeling a bit battered, we headed to a cafe to refuel on shortbread and tea (well, it was a tea room round after all!). As we sat savouring our cuppas, my comment of “anyone fancy getting the bus back then?!” was met with unanimous agreement that we were going to crack on. After this we would be committed to be up in the hills for a good few hours, but I think we all felt ok. The thought of coming back and having to do High Stile again if we failed on this attempt was all the motivation I needed to carry on.

It was soon after 4pm when we left Buttermere, the possible rain that had been forecast hadn’t appeared, and in our minds – even though we had hours ahead of us – it felt like we’d broken the back of it. For the first time that day, it dawned on me that we had a good chance of completing the round, and we trotted out of the cafe feeling rejuvenated.
As we headed out of the village up through the woods alongside the river, I grabbed the chance to devour another of my sarnies before I needed both hands for my poles and the climb up Whitless Pike. As we clambered up to the top it got progressively rockier and ridiculously windy (same as last time I was there…coincidence, or bad luck?) and the poles were soon ditched to make sure I had both hands to grab on safely.

Over the top, we took the track to Wandhope and over to pass east of Crag Hill. By now everything felt a lot more isolated & exposed, and the only other faces we saw were the fluffy-cheeked smiles of Herdy sheep that were idly chomping on their early supper, but the terrain was more runnable in parts. Stretching out in front of us to the left was Sand Hill & Hopegill Head behind it, and Grisedale Pike to the right, both of which we had to climb.
The skies (that had been full of high cloud for most of the afternoon) were clearing, and the low sun gave everything an orange glow as we set off to do this out and back. The odd shaped triangular bit of the route on the map didn’t look too daunting compared to what we’d already done. Someone commented “this bit’ll be over in a jiffy”, which of course wasn’t the case.

It was hard going, but again the views from Hopegill Head were a just reward. The ridge route along Hobcarton Crag was, er, bracing! (and another crawl on all fours in parts…just felt safer when my bum was on the floor!) and after a quick selfie stop on top of Grisedale Pike, the pace quickened to get back down asap, and retrace our steps back to the crags, and back to the route that returned to the eastern side of Crag Hill. After a ludicrously steep but relatively short climb up to Eel Crag, we pushed on to Crag Hill summit, and paused. This was the highest point, with spectacular views and beautiful skies in all directions, and the landscape around us was burning in low evening sun. Wondering if I’d ever be lucky enough to experience these kind of views and conditions again, I just stood there and savoured it for a bit.

Shortly afterwards on our way down, we sat in a line on the grass, legs stretching down the hill and resting back on our rucksacks, and just had a breather. It was just before 7pm, and my Garmin said we’d done 25 miles. Only 5 miles to go? Hhmm I was starting to suspect it would be longer, and it wouldn’t be long before we lost the daylight. But the toughest climbs were behind us…for the next few miles it was a case of running along the ridges with gradually decreasing height…it felt like the end was in sight.

We pushed on across to Sail, past the squiggly ‘fix the fells’ giant zig zag path, and along Scar Crags. The increasing wind had become bitterly cold (yet more layers were pulled out of the rucksack), and again going was slow as safety demanded trying to get as much contact with the rock as possible. The side wind on Causey Pike summit was mental…I struggled to stay on my feet, removing my glasses before they were whipped off my face. The sun was just setting behind us as we descended down, creating orange and pink clouds ahead of us and rich inky shadows down to our left in Rigg Beck Valley.

The out and back run from Causey Pike to Rowling End was memorable due to the attentions of an extremely stubborn and persistent grouse*. Not content with bursting out of the undergrowth around us every few minutes, flapping about our heads and generally making a horrendous din, it manoeuvred itself on the path in front of Nigel and became our little bobbing front runner! This somehow seemed even funnier on the return journey. But even so we were glad to be rid of it when we turned to drop down into Stoneycroft Ghyll.

* it turns out the grouse had almost celebratory status on the ATR facebook group. George Fisher commented “we actually decided you needed a bit more of a challenge so have been training “attack grouse” to help keep your times competitive”. On a more serious note, they realised that it was probably protecting a next somewhere and have asked folk to be considerate.

By now it was almost completely dark, and I could just make out Nigel and Mike’s silhouette’s as they headed down into the valley through the heather ahead of me. Even in daylight, there is no visible path or trod…. it’s a case of spotting the path up (eventually bearing right, up to Barrow) on the opposite side of the valley, heading in that general direction and hoping that you can cross the beck when you get to the bottom. It was a long slog down, but thanks to Nigel’s lead, we found the path, crossed the beck, and paused to put on head torches before we climbed up again…the LAST ascent…and not before time.

We climbed up in silence, tired but determined, the world around me confined to the small pool of light from my torch, with spiders, toads and other wriggly wildlife things scuttling out of sight. At Barrow summit we stood and looked down at the twinkly lights of Braithwaite and Keswick. The three of us let out an audible sigh of relief…we weren’t home yet, but it was all downhill from here.

The inky black route down to Little Braithwaite seemed blanketed in calm after the earlier windy heights. We let gravity tug us down over the gently descending grassy banks and every now and then spotted the little flicker of a glowing insect (beetle?) flashing up from around our feet. Once down on the road, for the final couple of km (that dragged!) we followed the signs to Portinscale and Ullock and the feeling of nearing civilization grew as the houses became more frequent, until we found ourselves back on the same path leading back into Keswick, and walked through town back up to the market square.  We got some odd looks from Saturday night revellers who were spilling in and out of the pubs around 10pm, and looking at the selfie we took when we reached the doors of George Fisher, I’m not surprised!! We looked somewhat more bedraggled and weather beaten than we had at the outset, but the big smiles were still there. We had done it!!

At the end, Mike had muttered something under his breath about “never opening an email from Jules again”…!…but over the few days that followed there was swapping of photos and stats. 32.89 miles; 14:01 hrs; 14,603ft ascent: 7hr15m going up: 5hr43m going down; and 1hr05m flat time. After emailing our gpx proof to George Fisher, a reply informed us that we had been added to the Leader Board of Glory and would also receive some spoils in the form of Badges of Honour, and…wait for it…. free tea and cake in the café next time we are there!

Next time I am there? Will I be in Keswick to just to sit in the café, or will it be to try this again? There is no doubt we could have done it quicker (skipping the food shops/food stops/sit downs/café visits/grouse chasing episodes), but would I want to? I’m not so sure… the day was pretty near perfect as it was.

But one thing is certain…next time I am in Keswick for whatever reason, there WILL be cake.

Well earned cuppa
(Visited 187 times, 1 visits today)

Penny’s Pedal and Peaks, Lake District, Saturday, September 14, 2019

Penny Browell

Scafell Pike

For a while I’ve had it in my mind that I wanted to do a big challenge – either running or biking or a combination of the two. I love running in the fells and my new passion is my bike, particularly on hilly roads, so the Lakes seemed the place to go. But there didn’t seem to be any obvious event and anyway I fancied devising something myself. However, I didn’t really know where to begin and sadly the idea faded as I embarked on a new job which involved up to 5 hours a day of commuting and less and less time to train. My personal situation also changed and I lost the drive I’d had previously. I kept running and biking but with no kind of direction, no racing and no goals.

Then things changed and I decided I wanted to do something not for myself but for Beat. They’re not a huge charity but one who are doing great work to help people struggling with eating disorders. I had also resigned from my commuter hell and given myself a summer of being unemployed and therefore a few full days to train (when I wasn’t occupied with childcare).

At first I thought I’d do a long run and then a long bike ride but I couldn’t work out any routes that worked. I considered known routes for the run such as the Cumbrian Traverse and then just doing an out and back on the bike but it didn’t feel very natural or neat as a plan. I spoke to Tom about it who suggested a run up the Scafells followed by a ride to Keswick through Hardknott and Wrynose and maybe stopping off at Thirlmere to run up Helvellyn. I quite liked the idea of doing big hills on my feet and big passes on the bike and it felt like a plan was beginning to come together. It just didn’t feel enough. I decided to add on Skiddaw – if I’m doing the three biggest peaks why not add on the fourth? But I still felt like it could be a neater plan. Starting in Wasdale seemed a bit tricky…and wouldn’t it be cool to make it a round beginning and ending in Keswick? When I suggested this Tom seemed to think I was maybe a bit mad – to get from Keswick to Wasdale is a long old ride as you have to go all the way round to the west and it would add on a lot of mileage. But we agreed there was no point in doing it if it wasn’t a challenge…

So the route was planned and the motivation to raise money for Beat was there. As this was a new challenge there were no training plans to follow or even recommendations from friends. So I figured the key things were to get to know the route and also practice mixing riding and running. It seemed to be the right plan. Getting used to the feeling of transitioning from cycling to running took a few goes but I loved being back in the lakes for a few days of hill-climbing. We managed to get a couple of days to recce the bike ride and it was then that I began to worry. After a full day of riding I was aching and ready for my bed – and this was only half of the full ride. The second half of the ride was harder and due to bad weather very slow – getting up and down Hardknott pass is not fun on a bike (or any form of transport) and seeing a car which had failed to make it up in the rain didn’t help. Tom kept telling me this was a massive challenge and I did start to think I might be mad…

I didn’t have much more time to train after this with a holiday to France with the kids and my new job starting soon. But I’d told everyone I was doing it, recruited some amazing folk to support me and set the date so I had to do what I could to prepare myself. Fortunately, the holiday was an active one in a hilly area so I got some hill reps in and some nice sociable bike rides. Then once I started the new job it was time for a good taper…

Right from the start I’d known that my biggest enemy would be the weather. I’m useless when I’m cold and riding a bike with no feeling in your fingers is more than a little dangerous. So I obsessed about the weather forecast for the week leading up to the big day and was amazed to see it was really quite good. And as the day got closer it stayed quite good – unheard of for the lakes! As we drove over on the Friday evening the scenery was absolutely stunning. I had no excuse for failing – the weather was on my side, the team were ready, I had an endless supply of food, drink and clothing. And a lot of people had given their money towards the cause. I’d even invested in a tracker so the team and supporters could see how I was doing. The problem with it being an unknown was I really had no idea how long I would take to do everything. I assumed each section would be a bit slower than when we recce’d but beyond that I wasn’t really sure….

So the morning arrived (or is 4am still the night?) and after a somewhat disturbed night and two bowls of porridge consumed I was ready to go…

Most of the biking was just Tom and me – we had hoped to have road support between the changeovers but sadly our support wasn’t well so it was just the two of us from Keswick along the 45 miles to Wasdale Head. When we started it was still dark and cold. And when I say cold I mean really cold. I knew there was promise of a nice day ahead but it doesn’t help when you feel like you’re in a fridge. Fortunately, (?) we were soon heading up Whinlatter pass which woke and warmed us up a bit but dropping back into the valley it seemed to get colder and colder. I was desperate for the sun to come out and start warming us up… Eventually it did and we both began to feel more human. This section of the bike ride was the only bit with some tricky navigation but other than one point when wishful thinking made us turn a bit early Tom did a grand job leading us in the right direction and at a comfortable pace. It was a beautiful morning and although hilly, the roads were empty and a pleasure to ride along. I started to feel incredibly lucky to be able to do what I was doing. Life can be so complex and hard to navigate – having the strength to enjoy our beautiful country in this way is a real blessing. I had just one point of terror when my chain came off. I’ve only had cleats for a few months and poor Tom has had to endure several occasions where I’ve yelped as I toppled over before managing to unclip. This looked like happening again and we had an interesting discussion in crescendo where he said “unclip” and I said “I can’t” repeatedly until eventually I managed to free myself. I must admit I didn’t feel very professional at that point…

I’d assumed this first section would take 4.5 hours but as we cycled along the absolutely beautiful Wastwater in the morning light I was chuffed to see it was around 9am, just 4 hours since we set off. Tom told me to go into the car park first so I could be cheered in but when we got there we couldn’t see any of the team! Nina and Fiona quickly appeared from Nina’s campervan (the star of the day!) and Alex wandered down from the other end of the car park so all was not lost. But unfortunately the combination of a rubbish tracker (it failed from about 20 miles in) and a misjudgement of timings to drive from Keswick to Wasdale, the car with my kit and food was nowhere to be seen. Nina and Fiona calmly established that I could do the Scafells in Nina’s clothes (fortunately she’s pretty mini like me!). I tried not to stress but it felt all wrong – I had my food and my clothes planned and now everything had been thrown into disarray. Tom went off in search of Nick and my kit and after the others had fed me a cup of tea and some food I realised it would all be fine. Then just as I finished putting Nina’s running kit on Nick and Mel appeared with the car!

I quickly changed my shoes and then we set off up Scafell pike. I’d had a longer break than planned but in a lot of ways that was good – I was ready to go and it was fun to chat to Nina, Alex and Fiona. The thing that makes this challenge very different from most Lakeland running challenges (apart from the fact there’s much less running and more cycling!) is that I’d decided the easiest way to do the peaks was up the tourist routes. Scafell pike is a popular hill any day but on a lovely late summer Saturday it was particularly hectic. It was quite a novelty passing people who exclaimed at our speed (which was not actually very fast…) or helping people out who weren’t sure of the way. Whilst the weather was still lovely down in the valley the tops were pretty cloudy so before long we were into murk. But navigation is very straightforward and before long I was touching my first peak of the day. The next bit was the most exciting of the running element of the day. There’s no easy way between Scafell pike and Scafell but between Fiona, Alex and myself we were pretty confident of our route and enjoyed introducing Nina to Lord’s Rake which is a quite exciting scramble. Once you’re up through the gully it’s a short climb up to the top of Scafell. The cloud was pretty thick at this point and it was a little confusing not being able to see where the peak was! After a bit of dithering we agreed where we were going and spotted some rocks which seemed to go uphill so headed up. Second peak done it was a fairly easy descent back to Wasdale. It was good to get out of the clouds and though I’m not a fan of scree it was quite exhilarating “skiing” down it

Lords Rake

Back to Wasdale and we were met by Tom who looked at his watch and asked what we were doing back so soon. The 3-3.5 hours expected for this leg had been an over-estimate and we were down in 2.5. Tom was obviously worried I was going to crash and burn because I’d gone too fast but I assured him I was fine. After a good feed and change back to cycling clothes I was all set for the next leg – the hard(knott) one. Nick was joining us for the first part of this ride and I thought that would mean a nice leisurely chatty pace. To be honest I think that’s what it was but as soon as I got on the bike I started to feel the miles I’d already covered and had a slight mental wobble. I’d still got the big passes to navigate as well as two more big peaks and several hours of Lakeland undulations on the bike. I focused on the beautiful scenery, had a drink and before long was happily pedalling along and enjoying the Tom and Nick banter. After a few miles we passed the pub where we’d stayed on our recce and I marvelled at how much better I felt today than I had the night we’d stopped there for the night.

A few miles from there was the big one… Nick chose to catch a lift as Hardknott approached and after a quick cup of tea it was time to get our heads down and start the climb. If I’m honest I had no intention of cycling it – on the recce I’d had to push almost the entire thing because it was so wet. So once we hit the steep road I jumped off and started pushing and up we went. And up. And up. The steepness lessens about half way up so we managed to cycle a decent section before jumping off again to get to the top. Then the fun bit starts… As I said the recce had been wet and there was no way I was cycling down it in that weather but today was perfect conditions so I decided to give it a go. The sensation when your bike is facing downhill on a 30% gradient and there are tight bends to negotiate is a bizarre one. Somehow I got down but there was a fair bit of cursing whenever we met cars… When I finally got off the brakes in the valley I had the weird sensation that my fingers no longer knew how to bend. All that clinging on to the brakes for dear life seemed to have sent them into permanent cramp.

We tootled along the valley (which was stunning), fingers gradually becoming normal and then inevitably had to start the next big climb up Wrynose. I managed to stay on the bike a bit longer on this one but after about two thirds I had to get off and push again… On the way down I felt a tiny bit more confident but the hands were getting another battering. At one-point Tom passed me and as he said his brakes were about to fail I got a distinct whiff of burning rubber. We stopped and his brakes appeared to be almost on fire. Water sizzled on them and we waited a few minutes for them to cool down. Once we were down into the Langdales I knew we were past the worst and started to feel pretty happy and confident. I could see we were well ahead of time and I rethought my timings and decided my aim should be a midnight finish. The ride to Ambleside seemed to fly by and then we were onto the main road all the way back. Somehow I always have it in my mind that more major roads are easier and flatter. They’re not. This one goes up Dunmail raise and when you’ve been going for 12 hours or more that’s not much fun. I found myself longing to get off and have the relief of climbing Helvellyn!

Eventually we reached Thirlmere and the car park and again Tom told me to ride in first for the cheers. But again we were early so Nina and Adrian were the sole supporters! We realised Geoff and Gibbo (set to do Helvellyn) probably had no idea I was ahead of schedule and with no reception there wasn’t much we could do about it.

I tucked into some much needed food and got changed into running gear and now I had my new target I didn’t really want to wait too long for the guys to arrive. So Nina and I set off on our next little adventure. The route up Helvellyn from Thirlmere is straightforward and it was an absolute pleasure climbing up in the evening light. The views were just stunning and again I was able to enjoy myself rather than worry about what I was doing.  As we admired the view we spotted two familiar figures climbing behind us. We kept going as we could see they were going faster than us but as the wind picked up we decided to shelter behind a rock so Geoff and Gibbo could join us. It turned out they’d arrived just a couple of minutes after we’d set off. As we continued the climb the wind gradually got stronger and it was reminiscent of Elaine’s Bob Graham when Gibbo had been responsible for sheltering her from the wind!

Once we reached the top Nina took a couple of quick windswept photos and we were off back down again. The legs were starting to complain but the wind died down and the sunset was spectacular and it started to feel like I was on the homeward straight. Once down in Thirlmere there was just a short final bike ride into Keswick and Skiddaw to deal with.
Thirlmere changeover was fairly short – it was getting dark and we knew it wasn’t far to ride so we wanted to get going. Riding along quite a busy road in the dark wasn’t the most fun but it was a great feeling to know we were doing the last few miles and I knew I had it in me to finish the job!

Back into Keswick it was great to see the spot where we’d set off about 15 hours earlier… we’d done it – or almost! For the final climb I had the dream team – Nina, Tom, Geoff and Susan. Head torches on we set off chatting and enjoying being the only ones out on the hills at this time. I figured it was likely to be windy since Helvellyn had been pretty bad but as we climbed higher it seemed like this was going to be a different scale of windy. At first Susan tried to shelter me (despite me pointing out there isn’t very much of her to shelter me!). Then we all started to struggle to stay upright and Geoff grabbed hold of me – speaking to each other wasn’t an option through the noise of the wind so we all just clung together as we fought our way up. I’ve never experienced anything like it. If I hadn’t had Geoff and Tom to hold onto I’m fairly sure I would have taken off…

The climb seemed longer than usual (and Skiddaw is always long!) but eventually we were there. Nina loyally tried to get photos on the top whilst we all did our best not to fly off and then we turned round for the final descent. We wanted to move a bit quicker but not being able to hear, see or stand up properly were hindrances… It was a relief to get to normal levels of wind where we could actually speak to each other. My legs were really not that happy now but as it started to drizzle we broke into a jog. I assumed we’d lost loads of time trying to fight the wind to the summit but I was delighted when Tom said it was only 11.30 and I knew the end was in sight.

Finally we made it back to the bottom at 11.45pm and my challenge was done. Over 100 miles and over 17,000 feet done in 18hours and 45 minutes It’s a weird feeling when something like this is over…exhaustion, elation, emotion…it was all there. Tom and I waved everyone off and then had the simple matter of riding back to our holiday home (less than a mile away). I looked at my bike and looked at the road and thought I can’t do this! Challenge done I knew it was time to relax and sleep….

Congratulations to anyone who has read this far – I know it’s a long one but this really was a most amazing and important day for me. The money it raised for Beat far surpassed my expectations and I am so incredibly grateful to everyone who donated. Beyond that there are some people I owe huge thanks to – this was an odd adventure for all of us and you all made it so special. So big thanks to Geoff, Susan, Fiona, Alex, Nick, Mel and Gibbo. Extra big thanks to Nina who was with me for every step on the hills and whose campervan was an absolute lifesaver! Biggest thanks of all to Tom for encouraging and supporting me every step and wheel turn of the way from the very first seed of an idea through the training, all of the organisation and right to the final pedal and peak.

Now what’s next….Bike and Ben Nevis??

Click here to donate to Penny’s fundraising page

(Visited 102 times, 1 visits today)

Willow Miner Trail Race, Houghall and Low Burnhall Woods, Durham, Wednesday, July 10, 2019

5.3 miles

Kev Morson

I joined the striders in May, having being on the lookout for a running club for a little while but not having plucked up the courage to do so, so if I haven’t met you yet, hello! The Willow Miner hasn’t been far away from conversation since I joined the club. On the last bank holiday in May I did a recce of it on a ‘Captains Special’ run and made my usual excuses afterwards that trail wasn’t for me, uneven ground is tricky etc.

Having said that, training on trail routes had been progressing reasonably well so I took the plunge and signed up, knowing this would be my first event in striders colours. I am certainly not at the top end of the club in terms of pace but I was determined I was going to maintain a reasonable level of pride in the performance I put in.

Last week another recce of the route was to follow (thanks to Malcolm for giving up his time for this) and I found I had gained some confidence from the first time I had attempted it. Onto race day, I had persuaded a friend (who isn’t currently a strider, maybe one day) to attempt the race as well. He has had a pretty severe knee injury and hasn’t run a lot of late but he is always game for a challenge. Following the opening messages involving a lot of thank yous to get the race on (more on that later) we were good to go.

As is often the case at the beginning of the race, the first part was quite frantic, settling down around about a mile in. This is where my next thank you is owed, I ran the rest of the race from this point with Louise, a fellow strider, who was an absolute superstar.

She was a superb pacemaker through the middle of the race and then I took up the role for the last 2km or so. She kept me on point excellently and I wouldn’t have managed the time that I did without her. Finishing time officially for me was 50.02, work to do on that but I had set myself a target of 50 minutes so the aim for next year will have to be 45 minutes! My injury prone friend managed 57 minutes without any reoccurrence of his injuries so that’s a positive to build on also!

To Jonathan and all of the volunteers who marked out the course and marshalled to make the event possible I must say thank you, you were excellent and kept me going! It was very professionally done and at no point did I think I was going to get lost.

To the striders who showed up to offer support who weren’t involved, thank you to you too, its that sort of support that makes this club what it is (even including the photographers who always catch me looking fresh!) The mood at the finish was excellent with the buzz of all of the different clubs involved, many of whom I spoke to were very complimentary about the event and our club as a whole, which is excellent to hear. Finally well done to our speedsters and to each and every strider who finished the course, in humid conditions all efforts were impressive!

Final thought from me is with regards to the club and how welcoming it has been in the short time I have been a member. If you are considering joining a running club I couldn’t recommend this one highly enough. There are runs available for all abilities on a weekly basis and I have improved both speed and endurance a lot in my short time with the club, with lots of further room for improvement.

Full Results

Bib No.First NameLast NameCategoryAffiliated ClubTimePosPos in catCategory Winners
95StephenJacksonMSENElvet Striders32.2011Race Winner
133SteveRankinMSENSunderland Harriers & AC33.46222nd Male
112MichaelMasonMVET40Elvet Striders34.31311st Mvet40/3rd Male
54JonDixonMSENTriology / Bike Science North East34.4843
169GraemeWattMVET40Elvet Striders35.3352
161MattWalkerMSENDurham City Harriers & AC35.3864
108MichaelLittlewoodMVET40Elvet Striders35.5473
32LauraCheethamFSENJesmond Joggers36.25811st Female
170PaulWeirMVET4036.4394
79TomHamiltonMSENElvet Striders36.51105
58ChrisDwyerMSENSunderland Strollers37.12116
66DezFieldenMVET40Aycliffe Running Club37.22125
99JohnKellyMSENWashington Running Club37.33137
115PaddyMcshaneMSENJarrow & Hebburn AC37.47148
105JamesLeeMVET40Elvet Striders37.57156
48PaulDaltonMVET40Quakers Running Club38.19167
162DavidWalkerMVET50Sedgefield Harriers38.391711st MVet50
156EmmaThompsonFSENElvet Striders38.421822nd Female
1AndrewArnellMVET40Royal Navy Athletics Club39.06198
15MikeBoweMVET40Derwent Valley Trail Runners39.29209
3PhilipAtkinsonMVET40Birtley AC39.412110
165MilWaltonMVET40Sedgefield Harriers40.132211
25NickButchartMVET40Washington Running Club40.242312
38JuanCorbacho AntonMSENElvet Striders40.29249
94RobertHulseMSENBlaydon Harriers & AC40.392510
124DarrenParksMVET40Jarrow & Hebburn AC40.572613
125RobinParsonsMVET40Elvet Striders41.022714
131NeilProcterMVET40Sunderland Strollers41.042815
76PeteHallMSEN41.192911
122NickNewbyMVET40Birtley AC41.273016
151JohnSutcliffeMVET40North Shields Polytechnic Club41.323117
23IanBrownMVET60Stocksfield Striders41.453211st Mvet60
13JohnBissonMVET40Elvet Striders41.513318
86GeoffHewitsonMVET60Crook & District AC41.57342
55LeeDrummondMVET40Birtley AC42.013519
89RichardHollandMVET40Aycliffe Running Club42.013620
113LindsayMcEwanMVET4042.083721
8AnnaBasuFVET40Elvet Striders42.183811stVet40/3rd Female
42MalcolmCoxMVET60Sunderland Strollers42.31393
168CarlWatsonMVET50Low Fell Running Club42.43402
114AllanMcmanusMSENSunderland Harriers & AC42.584112
175DALEWILKINSONMVET50Sunderland Harriers & AC43.01423
17RachelBrehenyFSENSouth Shields Harriers & AC43.04433
39NikCortonMVET50Elvet Striders43.33444
97StevenJonesMVET4043.374522
106JohnLiddleMVET4043.474623
46LeeCuthbertMVET40Durham City Harriers & AC43.514724
118CraigMillerMSEN43.554813
166RosieWarnettFSENSedgefield Harriers43.59494
83AndrewHeavisideMVET40Crook & District AC44.065025
91MichaelHoweMVET40Washington Running Club44.195126
144DanShoulderMVET4044.385227
70MichaelGaskillMVET40Crook & District AC44.395328
41VikkiCottonFSENSunderland Harriers & AC44.48545
157IanThompsonMSENCrook & District AC45.015514
171MichaelWheatleyMSEN45.175615
37ClaireCookFSENGateshead Harriers & AC45.31576
80MatthewHardcastleMSENStocksfield Striders45.335816
5RachelBallFSENSunderland Strollers45.38597
50SarahDaviesFVET50Elvet Striders45.396011st FVet50
72PaulGriffinFVET50Stocksfield Striders46.00612
63StevenFairbairnMVET4046.016229
103BrettLambertMVET40Aycliffe Running Club46.056330
119DanMitchellMVET40Elvet Striders46.126431
27IanButlerMVET50Elvet Striders46.19655
182PriyanMistry46.2166
29KevinCarraharMVET50Windle Valley Runners46.29676
28MarcusByronMVET50Tynedale Harriers & AC46.42687
137SusanScottFVET40Elvet Striders46.52692
20MatthewBrimmMVET40Coundon Striders47.007032
146GrahamSoadyMVET40Sunderland Strollers47.057133
160NilsVespermannMSENTriAs Hildesheim47.327217
163MarieWalkerFVET50Sedgefield Harriers47.39733
178ClareWoodFVET40Elvet Striders47.48743
74HelenGuyFSENStocksfield Striders47.50758
44JamesCroftMVET50Houghton Harriers & AC47.55768
159LyneValentineFVET60Sunderland Strollers47.587711st Fvet60
153MalcolmSygroveMVET50Elvet Striders48.14789
176AlanWilksMVET70Aycliffe Running Club48.347911st Mvet70
134ShaunRobertsMVET60Elvet Striders48.37804
71SimonGentMVET40North Shields Polytechnic Club48.508134
85TracyHendersonFVET40Sedgefield Harriers48.51824
65AndrewFeatherstoneMSENSedgefield Harriers48.558318
53AndrewDixonMSENQuakers Running Club49.148419
147GemmaSoulsbyFSENElvet Striders49.33859
78PhilipHalseMVET40Low Fell Running Club49.398635
49AndrewDaviesMVET40Elvet Striders49.408736
24TonyBrownMVET50Stocksfield Striders49.548810
84IanHedleyMSENSedgefield Harriers49.568920
35LouiseCollinsFSENElvet Striders50.019010
120KevinMorsonMSENElvet Striders50.029121
69LesleyGarnhamFVET50Aurora Harriers50.09924
6CoyahBallettaMSEN50.179322
139JennySearchFVET40Elvet Striders50.22945
164ElizabethWallaceFVET40Elvet Striders50.40956
167MarcWatsonMVET40Elvet Striders50.469637
180ChristineWoodsFVET60Durham City Harriers & AC50.52972
16JeanBradleyFVET60Elvet Striders51.01983
73MaritaGrimwoodFVET40Elvet Striders51.03997
174JacquelineWhittakerFVET50Aurora Harriers51.181005
40PeterCoserMVET4051.1910138
148CherylStanleyFVET40Low Fell Running Club51.221028
43RobCraigMVET50Sunderland Strollers51.2510311
93JANEHUGHESFSEN51.2710411
117SusanMilburnFVET60Aycliffe Running Club51.331054
116PeterMilburnMVET50Aycliffe Running Club51.3410612
18SharonBridgeFVET40Crook & District AC51.451079
59LeeEgglestoneMSEN51.5310823
185LynneCarruthersFVET5052.001096
129JonathanPriestMVET5052.2611013
128AshleyPrice-SabateFVET50Elvet Striders52.351117
127JanPraterFVET40Sunderland Strollers52.4411210
57RachelDurrandFSENElvet Striders52.4511312
56KayDrummondFVET40Birtley AC52.5211411
2JenniferArthurFSENDurham City Harriers & AC52.5711513
172LucyWhelanFSENElvet Striders52.5811614
51SarahDelaneyFVET40Newcastle Frontrunners53.2111712
4RonAveryMVET60Sunderland Strollers53.381185
26LouiseButchartFVET40Washington Running Club53.5511913
107BecksLippeFVET40Elvet Striders54.0212014
140ChristineSmithFVET40Sunderland Strollers54.0612115
75AdrianHallMSENTyne Bridge Harriers54.2112224
154KathrynSygroveFVET50Elvet Striders54.261238
179DianeWoodFVET50Durham City Harriers & AC54.261249
150JohnStephensonMVET6054.381256
22LynBrownFVET60Stocksfield Striders54.411265
81FionaHarrington-HughesFVET40Elvet Striders54.4712716
177AngelaWilliamsFVET50Elvet Striders54.5312810
64SarahFawcettFVET50Elvet Striders54.5412911
130KathPriestFVET40Elvet Striders54.5913017
77VickiHalseFSENLow Fell Running Club55.1213115
123PercyParkinMVET70Crook & District AC55.141322
82ChristineHearmonFVET50Sedgefield Harriers55.2513312
126BeverleyPhillippoFVET50Aycliffe Running Club55.5013413
7EmmaBarnettFVET4056.1513518
183JackAcresMSEN56.4213625
158PhilipToddMVET40Elvet Striders56.4413739
92PeterHoylandMSEN56.5113826
61StephenEllisMVET60Elvet Striders57.061397
68MonitaGarnettFVET6057.081406
62SarahFairbairnFVET4057.1814119
138CatherineScottFVET50Durham Mums on the Run57.2714214
143AlanSmithMVET70Elvet Striders57.431433
60JanetEllisFVET50Elvet Striders57.4414415
30GeorgeCawkwellMVET70Crook & District AC58.111454
45FrancescaCurryFSEN58.2414616
90JoanneHopeFSENCrook & District AC58.5114717
135DeborahRobinsonFVET40Aurora Harriers59.2114820
181CharolotteRobertsFVET6059.251497
9NatalieBedworthFSEN61.0115018
111JojoMaddisonFSEN61.1015119
121SarahMortonFSEN61.1015220
149AnnaStephensonFSEN61.1015321
31StephanieCharltonFSEN61.1115422
52VickiDiasFSEN61.1115523
87SharronHogarthFVET50Crook & District AC61.1815616
100AdrianKelsallMVET50Washington Running Club61.1915714
101LauraKennedyFVET50Washington Running Club61.1915817
104JamesLatchamMVET4061.4815940
109WendyLynchFVET50Low Fell Running Club61.5216018
11KathleenBellamyFVET40Elvet Striders63.1616121
36JillConnollyFVET60Sunderland Strollers63.451628
98SarahJuliffFSENBlackhill Bounders65.0516324
184CarolGreenFVET4065.1316422
10FionaBellFVET40Blackhill Bounders66.2116523
12FrankBestMVET60Coundon Striders68.141668
142AlisonSmithFVET40Elvet Striders68.4516724
102AntonyRobsonMSEN69.1316827
14IreneBlayFVET60Blackhill Bounders71.471699
47SueCuthbertsonFVET60Sunderland Strollers73.1717010
96ZoeJamesonFVET40Sunderland Strollers73.1717125
145JacquelineSoadyFVET40Sunderland Strollers73.5617226
141ClaireSmithFVET40Sunderland Strollers74.0017327
33KathrynClarkFVET40Elvet Striders80.5217428
173DavidWhiteMVET70Durham City Harriers & AC87.581755
(Visited 511 times, 1 visits today)

Hardmoors White Horse Half Marathon, Sunday, June 9, 2019

Simon Graham

I wasn’t going to write a run report for this one, mainly due to being busy with other things going on in my life. However I couldn’t let you lovely lot down, so here’s a very quickly written one…

A week after completing parkrunathon, followed by Sunday to Friday away training with the army probably wasn’t the best way to prepare for a Hardmoors event. I was never going to be competitive though. I’m all about the completing, not the competing!

The weather for this event looked great given the downpours in the preceding days, the sun was shining as we left Durham and would continue to shine throughout the day. I say ‘We’ because joining me in the car for the journey down were my ‘better’ half Jill, and our friends Debbie and Bill. Debbie was doing her first event of this year’s series, and Bill probably just wanted to actually finish one.

We arrived just as the Marathon Runners were starting at 9am. Registration was, as always a very straightforward affair. Name, ID, Number. We were then waiting around to start, making the most of the sun before we (Well , more, me) started cursing it for being too hot during the race!

10am, race start. The start of this race is at the top of Sutton Bank, at the Visitor Centre. Starting on the road you make a swift left turn onto the trails leading towards ‘Britain’s best view’ overlooking Gormire Lake. In the Full Marathon and the 10K you drop down about 1000 foot to actually run around Gormire Lake. Fortunately in the Half you stay on top of the hill overlooking it.

White Horse Half is surprisingly runnable, unlike the previous event in the series (Wainstones), meaning that a comfortable pace can be held throughout the majority of the race. It wouldn’t be a Hardmoors event if there wasn’t some elevation and sure enough shortly after the first checkpoint at Sneck Yate there is a climb up to High Paradise Farm. On a normal day, feeling fresh, or wanting to go for it I would probably have attempted running up this climb, but today I just couldn’t be bothered. I could see everyone else in front of me walking so I joined them.

From High Paradise Farm the route takes you off into the fields, down a steep technical descent, and off towards CP2. It was just after the descent that myself and another became confused as to which way the route went. There seemed to be tape going both left and right. Just as we were about to get maps and route descriptions out another runner with an expensive watch pointed us in the right direction (I paid £60 for my TomTom watch and it usually sees me right!). Off we headed now with CP2 in sight.

CP2 was a quick water refill and off up a tarmac section. I can’t recall much about this section other than the downhill parts were real quad burners and we crossed over a ford. After crossing the ford and climbing up hill it was off into a wooded section which took us towards Rievalux Abbey. The previous day’s rain had made this wooded section ‘interesting’ in places and at one point my foot (and half of my shin) disappeared in some mud. It wouldn’t be a proper trail race if there wasn’t mud!

Approaching Rievalux Abbey (12ish miles) my left hip was starting to really give me some grief so I moved to a run-walk strategy. This was to continue for the rest of the race. Probably best given that the last four miles of the race are all uphill following the Cleveland Way back to Sutton Bank.

At 13.1 miles, I know because I had just checked my watch, I heard someone fast approaching. I turned, looked and said out loud “I might have known”, ” Well done Mark”* (*Might have been an expletive in between have and known). It was Marathon Winner and fellow Strider Mark Kearney whizzing past as though out for a Sunday jog. His passing spurred me to run for a bit. It didn’t last long.

Onward I plodded, run-walking to the finish, eventually getting there in a time of 3:20:22 (16.7 miles). Mark had completed the Marathon in a time of 4:01:25. He was the only Marathon runner to beat me home, so what if they’d ran 9ish miles more.

Bill finished about 4 minutes after me, only just being beaten by the 2nd place Marathon runner (who had run a 40-mile Ultra the day before apparently). Jill, Debbie and fellow Strider Jane finished around 3 hrs 50, having ran the whole route together.

Next event in the Hardmoors series – Farndale, where I will finish the half before Mark Kearney wins the full!

PlaceNoTimeNameCatClubFirst in Group
12722:10:05Phil HughesM-1st M
42382:13:54Samantha DaviesFV40Easingwold Running Club1st F
742553:20:22Simon GrahamMElvet Striders
1203763:53:07Jill YoungFElvet Striders
1212403:53:08Jane DowsettFV50Elvet Striders
1322873:59:45Deborah MannFV50Elvet Striders

(Visited 63 times, 1 visits today)

Hardmoors Wainstones Half Marathon 2019, Sunday, May 12, 2019

Simon Graham

I did not enjoy this race.

Any race report which begins with the above statement usually means lots of complaints and whinging about the event. I can’t fault the event, the route or anything else. I simply had a bad day.

Anyone who has ever ran a Hardmoors event will be aware why they are called ‘Hard’moors. They are not easy events, nor are they designed to be. The North York Moors is not flat and each event in the series comes with bonus miles to give you more value for your money, or so Race Director Jon Steele says. I could have done without the bonus miles at this event. On second thoughts, the bonus miles weren’t too bad. It was the main event I struggled with.

Continue reading Hardmoors Wainstones Half Marathon 2019
(Visited 188 times, 1 visits today)

Kielder Dark Skies Run, Kielder, Northumberland, Saturday, March 23, 2019

26.5 miles

Simon Graham

Having completed the Hardmoors 50 the previous Saturday, and just about regained movement and feeling in my legs by the Wednesday on Saturday the 23rd of March I found myself on the start line of the Trail Outlaws Dark Skies 26.5 @ Kielder.

In contrast to last weeks storm Hannah, the weather at Kielder looked good, and there were mutterings of the Northern Lights making an appearance around 9 pm. It was looking promising to be a great night for some star gazing, plus a little 26.5-mile run.

In 2017 I had completed this event as my first ever Marathon. Having entered 2016’s event and broken my foot three weeks before. Back then (for the 2016 event) a storm had hit and I was actually pleased to be injured. The 2017 event provided clear skies and fantastic star gazing opportunities but sadly I didn’t make the most of them. This was my first marathon and I wanted to push hard to prove I could do it.

2019’s event was to be a different experience altogether. No pressure, just go out and enjoy it; taking in the ‘dark skies’.

The route itself runs in a clockwise direction around the perimeter of the Kielder Reservoir, which is, strangely enough, 26 miles (it’s like they planned the reservoir around a marathon route!). Starting out at the Hawkshead Scout Centre a quick loop around the grounds allows the field to thin out from the mass start and the fast lads (and lasses) can fight their way to the front. We were doing no such thing and started out at a comfortable pace, although this was somewhat faster than I had planned in my head. I say ‘We’ because I was joined on the start line by my better half Jill, Dave Toth, Crook AC’s Bill Ford and Sunderland Harrier Tony Erskine. Fellow Striders Eric Green and Club Chair Jonathan Hamill were with us on the start line, but within seconds of the off, they had disappeared.

Starting with a mile’s loop around the Hawkshead Scout site where you then run back through the start ‘funnel’ and head downhill towards the road before taking a right which takes you onto the lakeside path (Technically its a reservoir path but lakeside is easier to spell!). The first 6.5 ish miles to the first checkpoint follows the lakeside path up and down, up and down. I should point out that on this course you are either going up or going down, there are almost no fully flat sections.

The first three miles we’d been running at a quicker pace than I would have liked, and at some point, I knew I’d need to slow. It wasn’t a fast pace by any means, but the weekend before’s efforts had taken its toll. Heading up one of the (many) inclines I remember saying to Dave that I thought we were going a little fast, Dave agreed, but we didn’t seem to slow. Both Dave and Tony had also completed the Hardmoors 50 a week earlier. Gradually as we approached CP1 we did slow down and arrived at the Checkpoint in good spirits ready for some of the famous ‘Trail Outlaws Red Kola’. At least that was what I thought. After getting my cup of ‘Kola’ a very green looking Bill declared that he’d had enough and was off home. He did not look in a good way. We tried the usual “Come on”, “You’ll be fine” things, but his mind was made up. We later found off that Bill did continue for another couple of miles before turning around and returning to the Checkpoint. Something I was very great full for later on.

On we pressed out of CP1 and up the hill. Five had become four, and we had slowed things down. Anything bigger than a slight incline was now being walked.

Just after 7 pm at around 9.5 miles the light was fading and with dusk well and truly upon us, I made the decision to get my head torch out of my packs front pocket and onto my head. I turned it on to try it. It came on. Seconds later it went off again never to come back to life. I still haven’t looked at why the head torch failed on me.

I’d changed the batteries in my head torch just the day before, having used it extensively the week before. I couldn’t believe it, no head torch. Just what I needed. Part of the mandatory kit for the race was a head torch and spare batteries. Fortunately, I had a spare head torch, this was just at the very bottom of my race pack, having put it there on purpose since I hadn’t planned on needing it. As it was not yet fully dark we headed on to CP2 with the intention of using my spare head torch from there onward. None of the others were yet using their head torches, so I was ok for now.

At CP2 my priority was to get to the spare head torch and get it on my head, I did this, repacked my bag, refuelled with more ‘Red Kola’ and pretzels and we were off on our way. I tested my head torch to make sure it worked and thankfully it did. What I hadn’t done with this torch though was changed the batteries. I’d used it in the past but not for long periods, so hoped it would be ok. With this in mind, I opted to allow the light from others torches guide me round to save the batteries in mine for when I really needed it. This worked great for me apart from in the darkened forest parts when I really needed the extra light.

Between CP2 and CP3 there are a lot of quite steep climbs followed by descents, so by now the pace was definitely slowing and I could feel the high mileage in my legs. Power walking uphill was fine, running the descents was destroying my right knee with each step. I could feel my body changing the way I was landing to minimise the impact. I started to drop back from the other three in our group at times downhill, catching them up as they slowed to a walk on the up.

Fellow Strider Sarah Fawcett had joined our little group by now, and I can’t recall if we’d caught her or her us, but she was not having a good race. We all stayed together to CP3, at 16 miles and the Dam. Sarah set off ahead of us. Over the Dam is the only fully flat section of this race and makes a nice change from constant climbs and descents, but for me, by now the damage was done. I was tired and could feel myself slowly falling behind the others, but then pushing on a bit to keep with them. On towards the 17-18 mile CP we went. We had again caught up with Sarah, who seemed to be really struggling. She would admit this though. I wasn’t going to admit that I was tired and starting to need to slow the pace even further.

The five of us (Myself, Tony, Jill, Sarah and Dave) reached CP4 almost as a unit, though Dave and Tony were ahead of us. Jill was sitting comfortably in the middle of the pack and I was at the rear with Sarah. I recall saying to her that I wasn’t going to get any faster than this, so she should just try and stick with us to the end.

Leaving CP4 as a group Dave and Tony were pressing on ahead and I knew that we needed to just let them go, for a few miles the distance was only metres, but as the miles increased they got further and further away. Sarah was still with us though and although struggling we stayed together with Jill and I overtaking Sarah, then her passing us.

The wall…

Somewhere between mile 20 and 21, Jill hit a wall. Not the mental ‘I can’t go on’ kind of wall, but her body had clearly depleted all of its energy stores and she was feeling sick. Despite refuelling, at each checkpoint, your body depletes energy faster than you can put it in during a marathon and Jill’s was definitely depleted. Jill was stumbling, almost falling into a ditch. Fuel was needed and fast. Fortunately, Jill had picked up a banana at the previous checkpoint and ate this and some cashew nuts she was carrying. We walked whilst she tried to get fuel into her body. Jill wasn’t giving in though and despite us walking she was power walking. Please just slow down for a bit I was thinking, as much for her as for my own tired body (I can’t walk as fast as Jill either).

We walked and ‘ultra’ shuffled for a couple of miles, still with Sarah nearby. Dave and Tony had by now long since left us, and were happily running their own race. I’d said all along that I wasn’t leaving Jill and despite her still struggling we pressed on. Not finishing was never an option.

By the time we had reached the woods that bring you into Leaplish and the 24 mile CP Jill was again feeling strong and we were run (shuffle) walking. By this point we had lost Sarah further behind us, she was by now really struggling. In order for us to finish, we had to do what was best for us and kept moving. Not at a fast pace, just moving forward.

At the Leaplish CP, we had a quick water refill and were off 1.7 miles to go. By now Jill had replenished her energy supplies and was again feeling strong. I, on the other hand, was tired and starting to really struggle. I didn’t let on though. From what I can recall we ran large sections of the last 1.7 miles to the finish, Jill was leading me along. At the final hill to the Scout site, Jill was about 10 meters ahead of me shouting “Come on”. I’ll not say what I was thinking at the time.

Up the hill, around the corner and into the hall to finish. We had done it. 5 hours 47 minutes. Nowhere near PB times, but the end goal had been achieved.

At the finish, we were greeted by Tony, Dave and Rachel Toth who were conveniently standing next to the Jelly Babies. I ate a lot of Jelly Babies! Bill Ford joined us looking rather refreshed. He’d been changed, had a massage, watched the first finishers come in, but most importantly of all he’d been to collect Jill’s car from the overflow car park and brought it to the finish meaning we could make a quick getaway. We said our goodbye’s, saw Jonathan Hamill eating cake and were off for pizza and drinks.

I found out the following morning that Sarah had made it to the finish after stopping for some rest at Leaplish. Sorry we didn’t hang around!

As a footnote, the Northern Lights didn’t show up and we saw very few stars since it was cloudy.

Name TimePositionGenderGender PosCatCat Pos
JonathanHamill04:37:51140Male118M4047
EricGreen04:45:09164Male134M5024
BobMetcalf04:51:05188Male148M4063
CorrinaJames05:08:04227Female59F4023
LouiseBarrow05:22:41274Female83F40
LisaSample05:22:44275Female84F41
DaveToth05:23:58280Male195M5039
AshleyPrice-Sabate05:39:52318Female105F5017
JillRudkin05:43:34329Female113F4045
KarenMetters05:45:30334Female116F4048
HelenThomas05:45:03335Female117F4049
JillYoung05:47:09337Female118F48
SimonGraham05:47:20338Male220M78
SarahFawcett05:56:32349Female122F5020
KarenWilson06:14:33377Female133F4056
(Visited 231 times, 1 visits today)

The Duergar Nightcrawler Run, Simonside Hills, Northumberland, Saturday, February 23, 2019

Jonathan Hamill

Intrigued by the picture on the Duergar Run website of a fierce looking character, and the prospect of being chased through the fells by a wild creature or suchlike, I decided to find out more. I discovered that Duergar comes from the old Norse word Dvergar which means Dwarf. There are many old stories which suggest that these Duergars live in the rocks and hills around Simonside, their purpose being to lure unsuspecting hikers or travellers by torchlight over rocky ravines or into deep bogs. I reckoned they would be happy to target unsuspecting runners too.

Continue reading The Duergar Nightcrawler Run
(Visited 465 times, 1 visits today)

Hardmoors Saltburn marathon, Saltburn Leisure Centre, Sunday, February 10, 2019

Mark Kearney

Chapter 1; Saltburn Marathon

“Please can we go to Saltburn in February” is a phrase few will say whom are of sound and rational mind and there are many good reasons for that……however as a trail runner and lover of Hardmoors it is a necessity to arrive bright and early on a Sunday morning, at that time of the year and in that very location.

The Half Marathon at Saltburn in 2017 was my first ‘trail’ run and was perhaps the hardest 15 mile I had ever ran.  Yes, I had completed Marathons and events in the past, but nothing compared me for the climbs, mud, sleet, hail, rain, snow, wind with the occasional presence of sunshine over a 2-hour period.

Now we fast forward two years and after the mental and physical torture of 2017 we have added multiple Hardmoors experiences to the locker and now think its big and clever to double the distance and take on the marathon series.

Training had gone well, a good result in the HM30 the month before and I felt confident going into the race with some good miles behind me.  A recce in the snow the week before had given some knowledge of the elevation and terrain of the back half of the route and on checking the weather forecast no more snow was due; only winds provided by some storm called Eric.

The morning of the race was surprisingly calm, the wind had gone, no rain, no snow, no hail…was this Saltburn? The conditions near perfect weather wise as we parked up and registered for the event.  As usual, seamless teamwork from the Hardmoors family as we registered, smiley face for the kit check and we packed our bags in readiness for the race briefing and the call to go outside and toe the line. Walking out we passed Striders Simon Graham and Jill Young, happily saluting us with coffee cups and wishing us good luck…..with the caveat that they are not as crazy as us and are happy to be taking part in the half marathon, due to start at 10am.

We walk outside on mass, traffic stopped, marshalls in place and Jon says we’re off; so we’re off…. down a main road (at least in force so some element of safety) until we hit the track into the dene to drop to the coast. The leader seemingly intent to break away, hitting a fast paced first mile to the coast before the coastal trail path sections and the first flight of steps….slowing us all down as we walk the climb.  The course taking the scenic coastal path route, along the cliff tops into the bay and then back up for the climb to the top of Loftus before a fast paced tarmac section.  A chance to open the legs after a firm but damp section along the trails.  Seeing friends and fellow runners marshalling and exchanging in general banter as we continue on our merry way.

In a true fashion the trails continued to undulate, generally following the bows of yellow tape placed in many part by our very own Dave Toth in the days before.  Climbs followed drop, drops and climbs, stairs, steps and hills with few flat and fast sections in between before we start to reach mile 18-19 and the Tees Link up to High Cliff Nab.  For those not familiar with this section of Guisborough woods I would encourage you all to have a trip out and take in the elevation and views at the summit, the climb can be challenging in the best of conditions and after the recent snow this climb was the hardest I have experienced in running these events.  Unfortunately, the view from the top was one I couldn’t appreciate during the race but looks good on google.

This was the hardest and biggest climb of the race with a long run back through the woods and over to Quakers Causeway before heading down to Boosebeck and climbing to Skelton.  The taping of the route and support of the marshals was impeccable throughout the route with fully stocked refreshment points and supportive encouragement throughout.  The views, freedom and lack of people and animals on the moors is one of peacefulness; no noise, traffic and only the voice in your head to talk to as you cover the boggy moor landscape.  Michelle likes to comment that listening to me have a conversation with myself is her idea of torture; I quite like it as I generally turn out to be right when I’m finished my discussion.

Reaching the other side of Boosebeck enables the Marathon race to join the end of the half marathon route and it was good to see runners again, to be able to say hello and not continually look for yellow tape as I could follow the pack, to target people to try and reach and have a little competition with myself for the final couple of miles.  Dropping down the steps I had expected to see Dave Toth at his marshalling point but apparently, he had popped to the shop for refreshments so we continued on back into the dene and the final climb to the main road where the finish line and the leisure centre awaited. 

Running into the hall, stopping the watch and desperate for a shower I was happy to end in a time of c3:48 minutes and take first place.  Happy the race had gone to plan, pushing on when required and all in better conditions that we could imagined.

I would encourage anyone to take part, try a 10k(ish) if you’re not sure and I would be surprised if even a little bit of you didn’t enjoy the event and people involved.

Round 1 completed, 6 to go……

(Visited 117 times, 1 visits today)

Coxhoe 10k Trail Run, Sunday, September 23, 2018

10K

Anne Marie Fisher

It is uphill from here!!

First time 10K

It had finally arrived, somewhat later than expected. You see I had entered my first 10K race back in May, however, due to injury I was forced to defer my place until 2019.

Over the last few months, I had entered various 5K races, which I felt ‘comfortable’ with and was confident I could finish. However, I didn’t feel completely challenged. Then in July after only recently joining Striders, a last minute place became available for the Willow Miner Race (something to do with a football match!!). This was my biggest challenge so far, distance and terrain! I loved it!

So on the morning of the 23rd September, I arrived ready for the Coxhoe 10K Trail race. I was feeling excited and surprisingly confident. I think the confidence was partly due from completing the Willow Miner race and also meeting some fellow runners the previous Wednesday at training. It was the first race I had worn a Striders vest and as people were milling around before the race they would pass with a “hello”, a smile. It was like immediately making lots of new friends.

Registration was shockingly early for a Sunday – 8am-9am, especially as the race didn’t start until 10 am. Yes we were hanging around a while and it was freezing (summer was long gone), however, we bagged parking spaces! My advice would be to get there early, park, register then wait in the warm car with a takeaway coffee till the last possible moment. It’s about a 10 mins walk up to the start from the Active life centre or a nice little jog as I saw several people warming up early.

We arrived at the finish area…so early. It wasn’t even finished! After helping put up the banner ready for a team photo it was time to head to the start, which meant taking off my hoody, wearing a vest with no thermal underneath! How I regretted that at the time. So with extremely cold arms and hands, we trotted off to the start line, raring to go. The buzz was electrifying. 200 other, mainly club runners, all huddling close to keep warm. With no chip timing, I was told to get closer to the front.

And we were off and straight down a stony track. At this point, there were tonnes of runners trying to get ahead. I would say this was the most nerve-wracking part. Trying to watch my footing, keeping up a decent pace and not being knocked over by a sea of runners. I would definitely say it pushed me on to run a bit quicker than I had originally planned to.

The next few km were along old railway lines, softer terrain and flat, however, this is where I struggled to get into a rhythm, partly due to a cold so struggling to breathe and maybe because of the quick start. Before long we were climbing and as I turned a corner there was the water station. I wasn’t particularly thirsty, however, I was worried it would be the only one, so even though it was very early in the race, I thanked the marshal and took several gulps of water before pushing on.

As we approached some downhill, I glanced to my left and could see some runners ahead of me turning up some steep gradients, so I headed down knowing in the back of my mind what was to come! The hills started and they were fairly steep. I power walked most of them but my breathing was heavy. The poor girl I was behind must have been fed up of me heavy breathing down her neck. I remember thinking I’m only at 4km not even halfway, can I keep going for another 6km?! But then as I passed another Strider lady (I would pass her, then she would pass me and vice versa), I saw with relief, a sign for the halfway point. It was at this point that the race changed for me.

We were higher up with lovely views and I remember thinking we must be going downhill soon. It was at that moment that I found a new lease of energy. My pace picked up and I started overtaking the same people that, earlier on, I had struggled to keep up with. I didn’t pay much attention to my Garmin and wasn’t set on achieving any particular time, however, I had approximated before the race that I might finish around the 1hr 15 min mark due to my pace history. But as I glanced at my watch I realised I was running faster and as the km interval beeps appeared on my watch, each km average was quick! Not quick for others but for me it was fast!!

The downhill felt great, through a wooded area and leaping over a stile at the bottom. I felt like I was flying. Then on over a few roads crossing where the marshals were doing a great job at keeping us going. But then I hit the long flat railway line, which seemed to go on forever. It was at this point that I had to really mentally keep going. I was still fairly speedy (for me) but you could see it go on and on in the distance and I had now exceeded the 8km mark so I was in new distance territory.

I started trying to avoid looking ahead and instead kept aiming my sight at some objects in the near distance, using them as targets, all the while remembering about the steep stony track we had come down at the start and thinking, this is going to be the final challenge.

As I approached the last marshal at the end of the railway line I crossed onto the track and hit the stony incline. I pushed on trying to keep at a steady jog pace as well as recalling what the run leaders had said about hills during previous training sessions. And then it turned to a walk, “keep breathing and moving” I kept repeating in my head. I could see several people at the top of the hill, this pushed me to start running again as soon as I reached the summit. In reality, my body wasn’t quite ready for that and I could feel my legs turning to jelly, but I kept moving determined to continue.

As I passed a few runners (they had already finished) along the track towards the woods I could hear shouts of encouragement, in particular from Rebecca Talbot who was stood in a ditch searching for conkers having already finished in a solid time.

As I struggled through the woods I could hear the noise from the finish line in the distance. I started to panic, my breathing hadn’t quite recovered from that final hill. I stood still for the first time in the race took some deep breaths and then pressed on. As I turned the corner I could see the finish, Catherine Smith, Anna Seeley and Kerry Anne Barnett all smiling and shouting encouragement. I turned that final push into a sprint finish, putting my time at a very surprising and pleasing 1hr 7mins, way below what I had expected.

So, looking back it was a lovely first 10K to do, fairly low key, friendly and definitely challenging. It has definitely given me more confidence and as I head into my first Trail Outlaws race this coming Sunday I’m full of excitement and determination but also, I’ve decided not to worry about time as I seem to perform faster when I’m not clock watching. Time will tell. One thing I’m certain of is that I have started a love affair with trail running!

posbibNametimeGender
1207McKenzie James (Heaton Harriers)00:35:04M
342Callan Chris00:35:55M
4181Mason Michael00:36:44M
9122Watt Greame00:39:19M
10110Potts Bryan00:39:51M
1163Scott Stuart00:39:57M
1364Kirtley Barry00:40:22M
1762Anderson Michael00:40:49M
369Holcroft David00:44:38M
37103C. Anton Juan00:44:41M
43164Darby Lisa (Sedgefield Harriers)00:44:55F
46230Ray Phil00:45:23M
4719Barlow Michael00:45:24M
4915Basu Anna00:45:29F
50209Mitchell Dan00:45:34M
5193Jones Fiona00:45:47F
52220White Conrad00:45:59M
614Alfree Robert00:47:06M
62116Lumsdon David00:47:23M
7077Chaytor Trevor00:48:32M
78189Sabate Jordi00:49:59M
8044Carr Matthew00:50:07M
88117Connor Philip00:50:51M
9345Scott Alan00:51:05M
9639Foster Mark00:51:26M
97132Panke Jan00:51:28M
10870Mason Anna00:53:09F
113176Brown Alex00:53:33M
11984Ellis Stephen00:54:54M
12518Barlow Stephanie00:55:50F
131208Talbot Rebecca00:56:36F
13649Dixon Angela00:57:26F
13843Scott Aileen00:57:33F
140168Young Jan00:57:50F
144137Stephenson Lee00:58:06M
152111Glassey Danielle01:00:03F
159136Walker Sue01:01:38F
17047White Staney01:03:16M
175118Waugh Lynne01:03:57F
184195Dennis Sophia01:07:10F
18622Fisher Anne Marie01:07:47F
187105Pattison Sharon01:08:34F
18992Richardson Joanne01:09:28F
196140Lumsdon Lisa01:14:25F

(Visited 119 times, 1 visits today)