Category Archives: Alister Robson

Watergate 5K, Gateshead, Thursday, August 28, 2014

Alister Robson

Alister wearing some NEMAA silver bling.Again a low Striders turnout for this one which many would enjoy very much. No T-shirt or medal, in fact only a bottle of water and a buffet after, but cheap as chips and part of the NEMAA championship series too.

Unsurprisingly I always think this venue would suit a parkrun down to the ground being a good surface and going nowhere near any roads. It starts flat if a touch competitive at the front, before a short sharp climb, then a long downhill when you can really get the speed up. A tight right hand bend across a narrow bridge and again you’re climbing up a longish drag. There’s a quick drop to get your breath back then the bit I always forget about, another short climb. From here it’s a short downhill, a tight right turn and a long straight and back to the start to begin the second lap.

I had a great run here which surprised me a little as I hadn’t run much this week, and had a horrible journey to get here – stuck on the A1 Western Bypass which was like a car park – and only just got there in time to meet Richard and Becky, the only other Striders in attendance at the start. Richard came in just after me and Becky ran strongly too – I think both comfortably improved on last year, here.

We hung around for the presentations and a beer and I was overjoyed to discover I’d won the NEMAA silver medal for my age category, and that I’d also won a silver from my run at the Morpeth 10k earlier this month. 🙂

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Fleetwood Half Marathon, Sunday, August 24, 2014

Alister Robson

Graeme Walton had run this last year and reported favourably on its PB potential. He kindly offered me a lift and so Katy, Graeme and myself set off from Durham at 6.30am on the long journey to Fleetwood.

After a quick stop at the golden arches for coffee and a hash brown, we arrived in plenty of time in glorious sunshine and next to no wind – perfect conditions for me. I say we arrived in plenty of time, but the queues for the toilets were already starting to snake around the leisure centre car park – this and the unsecured baggage storage area was about the only thing I can mark this down for.

After an amusing MC gave the briefing and a slight delay in the start caused by the previously mentioned toilet queue we were off and running along the wide sea front promenade, Katy as usual shooting off, Graeme (who I managed to keep in sight for most of the first small lap) and me slowly and steadily towards the rear of the 500 strong field.

After the first short lap of about 1Km, we set off further down the coast for a larger lap of about four and a half miles. All this time I felt great and was running comfortably at my goal pace of 7.15 mins per mile. The third larger lap of about 8 miles was even further down the coast (you could see Blackpool Tower in the distance), but there was a slight headwind and I felt I was working hard. The long straight did however let me catch sight of Katy and I knew then that either I was storming it or Katy was having a struggle.

When I went round the furthest corner at just short of 10 miles and I saw her standing still I knew, if I didn’t already, that it was the latter. I encouraged her to join me but she wanted to stop (it turns out to take her shoes off). The last three miles were a real drag, friendly marshals and photographers excepted. I really did have to push myself to keep going, knowing that if I could hold to even 8 minute miles I’d have a new PB and that’s the way it panned out. All too soon, I was back on the final lap making the turn into the centre and could see the race clock ticking down and hear Graeme urging me on.

That early start and hard work was worth it with a PB of nearly two minutes and 1.37. Katy came in very shortly after me, still breaking 1.40 despite her struggle and Graeme was already in, in 1.33. There was a medal (if no T-shirt) a banana and a wagon wheel or bag of mini cheddars and water on offer to finishers. Graeme even very kindly stopped off on the way home so that I could get some essential hop flavoured recovery carbs on board!

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Cock Crow 5K, Jarrow, Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Alister Robson

Surprisingly just Jacquie and I representing Striders for this very low key event. It took next to no time to get there being just off the A194 Leam Lane roundabout and so we had plenty time for me to have a coffee and for Jacquie to talk Masters track and field athletics with the evergreen George Routledge.

Evergreen George, indeed!

We even had time for a recce/warm up – the course had changed slightly from last year and now started and finished at roughly the same place.

It’s a mainly flat course heading out on an old railway line (Waggon Way?) before a cheeky little hill takes you to the highest point of the course just before 2k. (Great views though). There’s a small stile to hop over and that’s what I blame for my time being slightly slower than expected over 5k, although quicker than last year.

After the stile there’s a pleasant diversion around the fishing lake, up a country lane, along a very quiet road, a very short piece of grass and back to the railway line for a nice fast finish.

No medals, tees or goody bag here but no-one robbed either at only £7. Jacquie was just outside 25 mins and her times are once again heading in the right direction off the back of marathon training so we celebrated with a slap up meal in the eponymous pub where we didn’t trouble the results presentations.

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Ray Harrison Memorial 10k, Billingham, Sunday, August 17, 2014

Alister Robson

I’ve often wondered why this race isn’t more popular with Striders and can only conclude that it’s the timing, coming as it does immediately after the hugely popular Darlington 10k and before the not quite as, but almost as popular Middlesbrough Tees Pride 10k. This year it was also the day before the DCH Summer Relays.

That’s the only thing I can think of as otherwise it ticks a lot of boxes. Fast, flat, cheap, chip timed and with a tech tee and goodie bag. This year if you’d entered in a advance your name was also printed on the number, giving spectators a chance to shout your name which is always nice.

Working hard early on ...
© Barry Cornelius

Katy described the route well in her report from last year – one small 3k loop and a larger 7k route. The wind was strongly in your face for the last bit of both, though it’s strange how it doesn’t feel as strong when it’s behind you!

I bumped into Ari and Innes Hodgson beforehand and Ari was ahead of me for nearly all of the first lap. I tried to encourage him to tuck in behind me into the wind but perhaps he paid the price for slightly too fast a start. I had a good strong run, only a few seconds slower than my time at Darlington a week earlier on a much less windy, if perhaps slightly hillier course. I was also pleased to track down and overtake the three orange DCH shirts that were ahead of me for most of the first 9K. Ari finished just behind me as I got my breath back with a very strong and competitive kick at the very end coming into the stadium. Innes was just after him and looked pretty comfortable considering.

Unfortunately I didn’t see Laura Jackson at the start and hence didn’t know to wait for her. It was her second race of the weekend following from Saturday’s Gateshead trail 10k – looks like someone has got the bug 🙂

A potential Sprint Grand Prix race for future years?

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Morpeth 10k, Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Alister Robson

My 6th go at this race which is almost always the first back after our holidays. After two weeks all-inclusive holiday I didn’t have great hopes. It’s a great warmup for Darlington 10k, also 2 laps and with a long drag up a gradual incline. Morpeth also throws in a couple of small hills.

Megan Bell and I travelled up together and Becky & Richard Hall (2) were already there. registration had changed slightly this year, although you still park at the Piramol chemical factory and register at the Football Club, this year you didn’t get the mug beforehand and have to go all the way back to the car to keep that safe before making your way to the start (another good walk/warmup).

As I explained to Megan on the startline, the name of the game with this one is pacing, take a nice steady first lap and then speed up slightly for the second, picking off those who’d gone off to fast and getting a psychological boost in the process. I almost managed to follow the plan, just went out a little too hard towards the end of the first lap, no harm done though as I still managed to run all the way up the long drag that starts the second half (something that has to my shame defeated me in previous years).

Chasing Kirstin of Durham City Harriers who was having an absolute stormer kept me going and I only managed this in the last couple of Km. I gave her a few encouraging words which must have worked as she held, despite being tired for a massive PB and crossing the line with the same time as me. I initially thought that we’d both dipped under 45 mins, a course PB for me and a massive 2 minute PB for Kirstin but we were robbed a bit by the official results giving us 45.13.

Megan came in quickly after me in a season’s best time, and Becky and Richard (fresh from his Ironman exploits) followed in shortly after. A nice run and a good omen for the weekend.

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NEMAA #5 2014 Track and Field, Monkton Stadium, Jarrow, Monday, July 21, 2014

3000m, Shot Put

Alister Robson

Having seen Jacquie dominate the competition in the previous NEMAA meeting, and in the recent 2014 Championship meeting I was keen to give this a go myself, especially as my NEMAA membership had just come through. (You need to be an NEMAA member (over 35) to take part). You can enter up to 3 events for a single fee of £3 on the night, although sometimes it speeds things up to pre-register. I chose the 3000m, Shot and High Jump.

First up was the Shot and the 7.62Kg weight felt very heavy in the hand. Jacquie kindly ran through the basics with me and I managed to get all three allotted throws away, improving bit by bit to 5.86m which was enough to win my age category, MV40. If I’d met some other higher standard I could have had another 3 throws.

Buoyed by this it was off to the track for a brief warmup and my first track race in excess of 25 years. I had a great run, knocking 40 seconds off my previous 3Km best, but this was only enough for plum last in the race of about 11, and which was made up mainly of older runners. I got lapped by the leaders and to be honest most of the field 🙂

It also meant I missed the start of the High Jump competition and had to come in at a height of 1.35m, which I stood no real chance of clearing.

Jacquie meanwhile convincingly won her Shot and High Jump, having gallantly dropped out of the Discus in order to make sure I was OK in the Shot.

Still all great fun, and held in a great spirit. This is something any Strider over 35 can have a go at, you do however need to join NEMAA first, however this has other fringe benefits as other races throughout the year have an NEMAA championships within them exclusively for NEMAA members. I was astonished but happy to find I’d won a Silver medal for my age category at the Saltwell Fell Race.

Anyone interested in taking part in Masters or indeed Seniors Track & Field Athletics please speak to myself or Jacquie, who has a wealth of experience in this regard. It would be fantastic to put out a full squad for this next year – imagine if we could take on the likes of Durham City Harriers at Track & Field too!

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Hamsterley 10K, Sunday, July 6, 2014

Alister Robson

Everyone had been going on about how tough this was for weeks, so I’m not sure whether it was the slightly revised route, being mentally prepared for much worse or least likely, a spot of good form that led to this being a pleasing performance and race.

The start is tough, I’ll give you that, before you’re even properly warmed up they take you up a big hill, before a short section of flat to get your breath back (quite narrow, so no real opportunity for overtaking), then a rapid descent to get back to the same level.

A couple of miles of flat but scenic track lull you into a false sense of security before the really tough bit. Just after the water station, there’s a shallow stream crossing, with steps if you don’t fancy getting your feet wet, but then you turn a corner and there’s the big hill at three miles.

This just drags on, I ploughed my way up it but have to admit towards the top, as it twisted and rose, just as you thought you’d summited i,t I had a little walk. I’m not ashamed, I’ve seen some proper fell racers do it and I only lost one place, which I quickly picked up (plus a few more) when I started running again at the top having had a breather. By now all thoughts of a good time have gone, but what I didn’t know is that it was all down hill or flat from here. The last three miles flew by, pushing and being pushed by a regular XC foe, before abruptly the finish loomed into sight.

I’m not sure if the course was short, my Garmin registered just over 6 miles, but they really aren’t that accurate on twisting terrain with lots of altitude changes. On finishing I watched and encouraged loudly first Marco then John Hutch, Lisa Bryson and then Jacquie come in. I can only apologise to Paul Towers and Kathryn Larkin-Bramley for not hanging around to cheer them in but by that stage I’d worked out the big drawback with this event – flies, bugs and midgies – millions of them everywhere – not surprising in a forest, by a river in July really.

I was pleasantly surprised to be just outside the top 50 and the tech tee and goody bag justified the (late) entry fee. Recommended, but use some bug repellent!

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Berwick Curfew Run, Wednesday, July 2, 2014

1.3 miles

Alister Robson

The Curfew Run is only 1.3 miles and Berwick is 86 miles away from Durham so it was lucky I was already in Berwick that day on parkrun business.

The curfew bells strike at 8pm every evening, and last 13 minutes. Berwick was a walled city and the bells were originally to warn its residents to return to the city before the gates were closed for the evening. The Curfew Run’s challenge is to complete the 1.3 mile course before the bells finish (and the gates lock).

Alister works his way past, err ... quite a young field.

The course runs along the walls and for all but a very short section is entirely on path – one small section crosses the old road bridge which was marshalled for the occasion.

Entry was on the day from 6.30pm and it was doubly lucky I was there early as the 150 limit was reached very shortly after I handed over my form and £4. Last year’s entry was only 120 and so you can easily excuse the run organisers from Berwick’s Tweed Striders for not expecting the demand – in the end there were so many disappointed runners, including those who’d run many times in previous years, that they agreed to put on a second wave at 8pm.

I made the first wave and on the startline felt a bit like Gulliver surrounded as I was by schoolchildren, many no higher than my waist. The start was a bit narrow but very soon the field spaced out and I was able to progress through the overkeen juniors who had a tendency to go off too quick. having said that so did I and as you cross just before the old bridge, I remembered about the climb back up to the walls. This wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, certainly nothing after Saltwell Harriers Fell Race the previous evening, and I picked off a few more of the little ‘uns. The last section is again flat, even slightly downhill and I eventually crossed the line just after one junior lady and possibly even in the top 10. I was well pleased to have beaten the bells, crossing in about 8.30 although I’m not sure if results are published, aand I was even more pleased to see the goody bag – a decent shoe bag, Tech Tee, Medal, drinks bottle, snack bar, banana and a bottle of water – not bad at all for £4.

Just remember to get there early if you want to be sure of a place.

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George Ogle Memorial, Swalwell Cricket Club, Wednesday, May 28, 2014

approx. 6 miles

Alister Robson

I can’t believe this was the 4th running of this increasingly popular race – doesn’t time fly? It was a bit of a shame the weather was so bad with a pretty relentless downpour but this is still a great race and course conditions were surprisingly good.

It’s not really a PB race as it’s not really a standard distance but I felt good and ran as hard as I could, first along the Derwent way path up to the nine arches viaduct, the cheeky hill, riverside fields before finally coming back along the long, slightly downhill straight.

I broke my previous best on this course (2012) after a less good year last year by a whole second thanks to the kindly urging of Colin Hodgson of Blackhill Bounders, although sadly my former rival mark Doctor of Alnwick Harriers once again got away from me in the latter stages and has now bested me every race this year 🙂

Striders also in attendance were Richard Hall (younger), who came in just behind me, followed by Becky and then Bill.

The prize was a nice tech tee and Bill and I hung around for a drink to watch the presentations.

Many thanks to Karen & Will and all from PB Fitness Running Club, who continue to provide a worthy legacy for Karen’s dad, George.

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Druridge Bay 10k, Sunday, May 25, 2014

Alister Robson

The 8th year of running this one but my first. I’ve been involved in helping to setup a parkrun at Druridge Bay which will be two laps of Ladyburn Lake so I was keen to go up and see what this route, which encompassed a lap of it, was like.

Saturday saw heavy rain as did earlier in the morning on the Sunday so we didn’t hold out a great deal of hope for the weather, but on arriving it was absolutely gorgeous – warm and wind free. Jacquie and I bumped into Richard and Helen Hall on arrival and Richard Hockin and Jean Bradley later too.

We had to get there early to enter on the day, but that gave us time for a quick cup of coffee and for Jacquie to have her tight calf attended to by one of the masseurs, who like this event, were raising money for this year’s designated charity, the Stephen Carey fund.

The route starts off on path, some of which was understandably heavily puddled, at the Country Park. From there it runs along a quiet road out to the bay, onto the bay and around a flag, back about a mile or so on the sand before re-entering the park and completing almost a full anti-clockwise lap of the lake.

I had a decent if unspectacular run – I could see Richard Hall just in front of me most of the way, but never got any closer to him, even when I could see him tiring. Jean was in shortly after me but unfortunately Richard Hockin pulled a calf and had to drop out. Jacquie and Helen came in shortly after, even though Jacquie found the sand really tough and needed another massage after to loosen it off.

Memento was a mug and wristband with water on the course and at the finish and although entrance on the day was a touch pricey compared to a few others, I could have further lowered that if I’d got organised and entered previously and I imagine they topped the £7000 that they raised for HospiceCare North Northumberland last year.

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