We combined this event (which I first ran in 1985 – though on a different course) with a weekend away in North Yorkshire. We travelled down to Harrogate on Saturday morning and visited the Renovation and Home Building Show then indulged in a session of retail therapy before staying overnight at The New Inn at Burnt Yates ( which we can highly recommend).
Heavy frost and freezing fog greeted us on race morning, threatening possible cancellation. Driving through the fog the 3 miles to registration at the village hall in Ripley the temperature showed at -1.5° centigrade !! We met Maggie Thompson (who had endured a nightmare drive) at registration. It remained very murky as 800 brave souls were escorted to the start adjacent to Ripley Castle (over a 1000 had entered and driving conditions had obviously deterred some). With advice to take care and adhere to marshall’s instructions, the race got underway. The very congested start onto estate tracks required concentration as wet leaves covering the irregular surface of gravel, stones and larger boulders was potentially lethal. Progress through the first mile was further slowed by waterlogged, very muddy sections. Once onto the road we passed through Burnt Yates just about discernable through the fog. Now the real hills started on this undulating and tough course as Clint Bank tested us prior to passing through the village of Birstwith.
Swincliffe Bank (signed by the organisers ‘The Swine’) marked the second major climb followed by the final killer hill – simply signed ‘For Fawkes Sake’ – before a final mile back on estate tracks, with even more concentration required on now tired legs, before a finish in the castle courtyard. Cold , damp and murky weather persisted throughout the run and the difficult underfoot conditions on the estate tracks slowed times even for the front runners. Marshalling and organisation by the host club (Nidd Valley Road Runners) was excellent, as usual, and despite the conditions we enjoyed it.
It’s been a while since I did one of the lake land trail races and two years since i did the inaugural sticky toffee pudding race. Back then it was billed as a 16K but this was just the RD’s doing his usual “I’ll guess the distance then wait for the folks with a garmins to correct me” ploy. I did it in 1:46 back then but of course my foot is still healing so I’m not allowed to run much but one of the features of these races is they have the challenge an hour earlier. Same course but for folks that might want to walk the route or just take a little more time for whatever reason. One of the reasons I love these races is its such a great Fetch fest and before the race we met with loads of fetchies we have known for a good while now who have become such good friends. In fact the first fetchie I ever met was on one of these lakeland trails and that of course was Dave Robson and the reason I ended up joining Striders. Dave was of course here today as was Maggie T and new strider Anna S.
At 1pm and with perfect running weather (warm and sunny with slight cooling breeze) we set off and soon climbed through lovely woodland. I had started with a quick walk but ended up in a slow controlled trot. This felt comfortable and although near the back we were not getting left behind. Anna was running with me in case I had any foot problem but also because I had given her my stinking cold. I know, it’s good to share. It was soon apparent that Anna’s chest was worse than we thought and this slowed us down quite a lot. She really should not have been running. Of course this was probably a good thing for me as it curbed my enthusiasm … !
As we climbed the forest turned into the most wonderful grassy trails. Near the first top we were treated to a wonderful view of the coast and to be honest the stunning views never stopped. I’ve rarely been to this part of the south lakes and I had forgotten about how truly beautiful the area is. I chatted to Maggie a bit along the way and other runners having a great time. We followed the coastal way for some part and then we were meant to do a sharp turn right. This was taped up but unfortunately instead of the little blue puma flags of the main sponsor they had used red tape and this had been trampled a bit into the ground. To be honest I was enjoying myself that much I didn’t look. Anna had shouted up that we may be on the wrong course but other were adamant that we were on the correct course. We weren’t. The runners ahead of us soon turned around and we climbed up the single track and back onto the correct course laughing and joking. It’s that kind of event. No harm done and for me it was just an added bonus. I could happily stay out all day.
From here it was fairly easy running with the added bonus of all the trails turned into a bit of a mud fest. Brilliant. A finish back through some more woodland and back into Cartmel Racecourse in 2:44, nice and easy. Picked up our famous Cartmel sticky toffee pudding and sat in the sunshine to watch all the runners come in from the grandstand with a cold pint and great friends.
Perfect day 🙂
… and from Barrie Evans
Not one for the faint hearted – described as a Beauty and a Beast of a course. Received a 98% approval rating by Runners World Readers in 2010. Panoramic views of Morecombe Bay and the surrounding peaks. Organisers claim underfoot conditions are variable with a bit of everything and warn it can be very sticky in places.
After four days of steady rain in the Southern lakes it proved more than sticky in many / most places . Mudman and Mudwoman and the Harrier League team should visit this one to see what real mud is!!!
After all the rain, perfect spring weather marked race day and it was pleasantly warm and sunny as 350+ brave souls lined up on Cartmel Racecorse for the 1pm start ( with an ominous taste of things to come as water squelched up through the lush green turf ).
After leaving the racecourse it was onto a rough farm track , flooded in places ( attempts to skirt the watery bits were soon abandond as a lost and pointless cause ), and gradually climbing past Lane Park woodland onto a very muddy ancient bridleway continuing climb onto open land up to High Barrow ( 170m ) then along Ellerside Ridge following the ridgeline with views out to Greenodd Estuary ( to be honest the surface of very wet grass, rocks, mud and water made concentrating on staying upright more important than admiring the scenery which for me was glimpsed only briefly all through the race ). Then followed a slushy descent towards High Stribes Wood continuing down to Grassgarth before ascending up through the wood and out onto the rough pasture of Bigland Heights descending again to pass close by Bigland Tarn before a short dry section ( on tarmac ) through High Gate Estate then onto the open moorland of Bigland Barrow passing by Black Beck Tarn before an undulating dry kilometre of country lane up Barnsley Hill. Then into and through the woodland of the Great Allotment an absolute quagmire ( organisers comment on route photo – a very sticky section , glorious mud , quite deep in places , especially in March – also in April as can be verified !! ) . After the downhill slog through the woods it was onto another ancient trail passing near to Barnes Bank Plantation and through a working farmyard before fording the Pill Mill Brook ( cold , fresh , clean water but no time to wash off all the mud – just a good paddle to just below the knees !! ) before the final climb up through Park Woods and the descent back onto the racecourse ( seen only in the last 150m or so ) and the run into the finish. All that for a Sticky Toffee Pudding, but well worth it. They even had hosepipes to wash away some of the mud – shoes and socks will need further serious cleaning !!
There were four events on the day with over a thousand competing and watching making it possibly the biggest day of the year for this pretty south lakes venue.
“On the 15 February 1954 Stephen Derbyshire, then 14, saw and photographed a UFO on the slopes of the Old Man of Coniston, above Coniston Village. The picture was blurred but the case became a classic of UFO literature of the time.
It was the era of George Adamsky and general UFO fervour, and the picture resembled the classic flying saucer shown in Adamski photographs. The object was only in sight for a short time and was described as a strange misty cloud with a definite shape.
Some time later he admitted the whole thing as a joke but some people seem to think he said this because of the intense pressure on him at the time.” link
Fast forward to October 2nd 2010 and by pure fortuitous luck I find my self lining up alongside Angela at John Ruskin School in Coniston for the 15km Coniston Trail Race. I didn’t show it but under the bravado and optimism I quietly think to myself, “What am I letting myself in for here?” However I don’t say a word and keep with the positive mental attitude and have epic music of the likes to be found in “Gladiator” and “Inception” bouncing round my head, this will be my best race of all time I keep telling myself. Thank god for Hans Zimmer! Its amazing what a little bit of positive mental attitude and visualisation can do!
And off we go, heading along the road, over the bridge and up the start of a rather large hill. A large snake of runners give it their all up this cheeky little hill 🙂 Well at 600 feet we find a group of youth hostel guys enjoying a bottle or two of Becks, oh how I was tempted to grab a bottle! At 1138feet (the highest point) we are 2.5 miles into this race and from afar it must have been like the sight of young Stephen Derbyshire back in 1954 to see something so unnatural, nearly 350 runners or more from afar like ants, trailing below the summit of Old Man ‘O Coniston along the ridge. A truly fantastic sight! After hitting the highest point, I must have had a sudden burst of adrenaline as I belted off downhill. I really couldn’t believe the speed at which I could hammer myself down hill on rough trails/rock tracks, bounding like a male ballet dancer onto rocks with pin point precision. Looking back at the Garmin I was hitting 5:30 to 6 min mile pace at this point lol. Happy with that! The deal was though that Angela and I would stick together through the race as we both have our strengths, dependant on the terrain. This could not have been truer! I may have belted off during the downhills but Angela is a speed demon over the flat ground towards the end of a race! A great person to be running with when you are feeling tired and drained, always telling me you are doing great and I’m so proud of how you have ran! We managed to stick together and finished the race together! Top race, top woman and a great running partner! Thanks Angela 🙂
Was this race great fun???? Definitely! Would I return to have another go? Definitely! We even managed to cover the distance in 1hr 42 mins which we are both over the moon about. Can’t wait to next year! Oh and many thanks to our fellow strider, “Barrie Evans” for waiting for us to finish and cheering us in. You had a great run Barrie finishing in 1hr 29mins. Really appreciated the welcome over the finish line!
Look forward to seeing more Striders at next years race!
… and Barrie Evans
Conditions leading up to this event were topsy turvy – damp and gloomy at the beginning of the week , continuous rain on Wed. 29th , superbly warm and sunny on Thursday , more rain on Friday and then ideal dry , mild and bright conditions on the day (Sunday back to rain for most of the day).
Having left Durham later than planned I just made the start line clutching my number secured from registration at the last possible minute. Just time to say Hi to Angela , Andy and Dave as the gun went and join a phalanx of 400 runners crossing the playing field of the John Ruskin School out onto the road and on to Coniston village centre turning up onto the Coppermines Road passing the Red Lion pub and onto the track heading up the Coppermines Valley passing in spate waterfalls and the YHA continuing uphill on track below Grey Crag crossing Low Water Beck Footbridge and on past the Pudding Stone onto the Waine Scar Road ( actually a track ). [Entrant for 2010 ‘Longest sentence in a Race Report’! Ed.]
The first 4km is basically uphill ( and most of the serious climbing is completed by this point ) so the gentle undulations of the Waine Scar Road were quite a relief before the descent to Torver across Dow Crag and through the old slate quarrries ( full concentration needed here ) passing Torver Village across meadowlands very wet in places ( a few casualties here as some ended up on their backsides ) descending through Torver Common Wood to reach the lakeside of Coniston Water with the lake on the right the path took us past Hoathworth Landing and Coniston Hall before entering the rear of the school fields and a final canter to the finish gantry. [Another entrant for 2010 ‘Longest sentence in a Race Report’! Keep ’em coming Barrie … 😉 Ed.]
I can only say this was a fantastic event, well organised and marshalled throughout. The 15km route is simply suberb and anyone wanting to run and be tested should try this one.
I should title this report “Striders go the extra mile” – as Jen Copley and Jean Gillespie managed to do exactly this at the Cartmel 18k (making it unofficially almost a half marathon for them). You can decide what you like from the finishing times – Denise and I would like everyone to believe we actually were way ahead and just couldn’t be caught by our team mates!
What started off as a very miserable wet day in Cartmel actually gave way to some pleasant running weather about 20 mins into the run. All in all it was a lovely well-rounded Striders Day Out: The hills were steep, the mud was sticky and slippery, the sheep were friendly and the Kendal mint cake plentiful. Seven Striders flew the purple flag – Dougie did us proud in the “Race” with a very respectable time. Denise, Jen, Barry, Jean and Maggie and I entered the “Challenge” event (which meant we could run a little bit slower than the flying Scotsman). Despite some chilly overnight camping conditions, Jen would have led us home effortlessly if it hadn’t been for her accidentally going through the wrong gate and taking the scenic route! I battled it out for about 5 miles near the end with a bloke about three times my ages who couldn’t catch me on the hills but was as sprightly as a mountain goat on the downhills and proved to be a good motivator for me to keep my pace.
Another fun-filled mud-splattered day in the Lakes, with the added bonus of a free Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding for every runner. Not that we only do it for the cake of course!
Barrie Evans adds…
The Ultimate Trails Series is proving highly successful and very well organised (except for those taking a wrong route this year). The day included 3 runs – a 10k, followed by the Challenge and finally the Ultimate Trail Race over the same course as the Challenge. Entries for the 3 runs topped 800 but on the day probably due to the weather only 600 turned up to figure in the results. Zoe confirmed that twenty minutes or so into the Challenge the rain stopped and weather conditions for running were nigh on perfect (except on the ground). Unfortunately the damage was already done by the heavy and continuous rain from early Friday evening and in places the course was waterlogged and there were long sections of thick treacle (otherwise mud/water often of unfathomable depth which a number of times brought me to a shuddering halt and surprise that I did not lose a shoe – these unscheduled halts tended to come on downslopes with a consequent struggle on the invariable and immediate uphill still in mud and with no momentum to help) and very slippery stones making staying upright an additional skill requirement. The surface is continually varied underfoot and hardly ever on the flat, the scenery and views around the course are amazing (probably even more so if you had real time to take it in!!) and the end is only glimpsed some 50 metres before you reach it coming down a winding track through woodland which reaches to the very edge of the Cartmel race course. The ground conditions though slowing me did not detract from a thoroughly enjoyable event and I must commend the gallantry of Denise and Jean in their desire to run further than required and allow me to be first Strider home!! I must also congratulate the newer members – Zoe, Denise and Jen on their participation and superb efforts.
The setting and excellent facilities at Cartmel including changing, piping hot showers and a bar in the race course complex plus hot and cold food and drink available from marquees provided the finishing touch to an event which I would recommend to all Striders .
The 50th running of this event around the lake starting from the Moot Hall in Keswick seemed at times as if it was through the lake as long stretches of the roads were under water and paddling became a necessary adaptive skill (warning of the likely conditions had been noted on the jog to the start as the river Greta was seen to be in full flood), car drivers frustrated themselves by the conditions and being further slowed by runners added to the discomfort by creating un-needed cold showers as they sped past already bedraggled participants. After a glorious Saturday the forecast for once was spot on and rain and wind lashed the Lake District with Keswick recording 46mm of rain (3rd after Capel Curig 58mm and Dundee 56mm) in 24 hours.
This race, a classic in the road running calender, was once widely supported by Striders but a clash of fixtures and the lure of an easy 7 miles at Gibside [Yeah, yeah, yeah. Ed.] saw just two stalwarts on the start line. From the off the route is undulating and at times the road appeared merged with the lake, dry feet were never an option. After Grange where the water was lapping the underside of the hump backed bridge a long gradual uphill of about 3 miles follows with Catbells coming up on the left. A lot of debris on the road (leaves, gravel, twigs, sticks and branches swept by overflowing streams etc) added to the interest and/or caution as the downhill to Portinscale followed, by which time it had briefly stopped raining, prior to reaching the A66 and the last mile or so to the finish at Keswick School which proved a welcome relief. I have run in worse conditions but on the day I wasn’t able to immediately recall the fact. Many past winners had been invited to attend and be involved with a celebration of an event first run in 1960 when 70 or so hardy Lakeland club athletes took part, [some including the prolific Ron Hill still running (1:31:10) and Kenny Stuart , the course record holder (49.15) icons of road and fell running of its earlier years].
A testing and tough event in benign conditions it is thoroughly recommended and hopefully Striders will return in force in years to come.
Sunday 20th September 2009 dawned clear, bright and fresh for the 29th running of the Great North Run. For Striders, friends and others getting to the Newcastle start line started before 8am as a coach organised once again by Andy James began its pickup of runners, marshalls and supporters at Langley Park then County Hospital and other points in Durham and along the route to Washington Services. Relief at this point as all scheduled 52 passengers were safely aboard and accounted for. Next stop, the bridge over the central motorway in Newcastle to the rear of the race assembly area where the runners spilled out, having earlier been asked to make a prediction of expected finish time, received last minute encouragement and advices including directions to the post race meeting point at The Look Out. The runners dispersed with their own thoughts walking along Claremont Road and making use of the baggage buses before taking their places in the appropriate starting zone.
The perfect blue sky and sunshine belied the chill prior to the start but for many it was a prelude to a very warm run. After the wheelchair and then elite women had got away Sting signalled the start for the elite men and masses at 10.40am and the charge was on.
My own start from zone A amongst the celebrities and GNR ever-presents was unhindered and I settled into an 8+ min/mile pace as younger / fitter runners from zones B, C and perhaps further to the rear surged past in their haste to reach South Shields before the pubs ran out of beer !!! Maintained a quite steady pace through 5k , 10k and 15km , enjoying the warm conditions but leg-wise never ever feeling 100% comfortable , ( must try harder and do some training !! ) before slowing a little over the last 3 miles to finish in 1.51.37 . After a brief chat to a group of Striders manning one of the finish lanes, collected my ‘goody bag’ and retrieved my kit bag before walking up to The Look Out ( feeling surprisingly fresh ) . Met our coach driver ( Ian ) who’d parked up at the junction of Fort Street and chatted to him as we sat and watched a spectacular performance by The Red Arrows. When Jamie Steel arrived after a 1.37.23 run it was time to make for the pub and enjoy a welcome pint. The pub gradually filled with Striders and friends with their own tales and experiences most having beaten estimated timings. ‘Super Vet’ Jackie Smith continues to set an example achieving 3rd place in her age group in a time of 2.25.48 with 12000 others ( the vast majority younger ) left in her wake. The exit from South Shields at 4pm was slow and a further holdup occurred at Chester-le-Street as we met traffic leaving the cricket ground where England had salvaged just a little pride in beating Australia in the final one day match – losing the series 6-1. Back in Durham just before 6pm to complete a long day. Many thanks to Ian from Gillinghams Coaches for providing an excellent, helpful and friendly service.
A prize was offered for the person running most closely to their estimated time – owing to some runners not returning on the coach it was not possible to confirm a winner on the day but subsequent check has revealed Lindsay Brough ( a friend of Steph Barlow ) to have run 2.05.00 to exactly equal her prediction!! Steph is hoping to bring Lindsay down on a Wednesday evening soon to receive her award – a potential new member perhaps !! Note: 282 finishers were noted as DH1 residents very few of whom are currently with clubs . Maybe we should nominate a recruitment officer?
Joanne Heron adds: Finished in 1hr 48 min, which was OK considering I may have broken my toe at home this morning, (OK, broken may be a slight exaggeration!) and the fact that someone had left the blow torch on this morning….v hot!
If I’m around for next years run I’ll definitely be offering my help at the finishing line. Thanks again.
Nigel adds: Many thanks to Paul Loftus for organising us all and turning us into Smurfs once more! Note to self;- Take hat, sunglasses, and apply sun lotion next year!
And Dougie adds: This was my third GNR and the best one yet. Down in no small part to not having to worry about getting there, and getting back. Thanks to Andy for organising the coach as it makes the whole day far more straightforward and stress-free. Again I’d say one of the nicest bits was just chilling out and winding down in the Look Out Inn afterwards and swapping stories and having too much beer before getting on the coach and stuck in traffic, and a big thank you to the coach driver for the pit-stop at Washington Services where I ran faster than I had all day to get to the toilets. Looking forward to the 30th next year! Indian Man
The 57th running of this classic run took place in bright sunny and pleasantly mild conditions though with a noticeable headwind. In years gone by international class and top regional runners flocked to the event and sub 50 minute times did not guarantee a finish in the top ten or even top twenty. In earlier years super fast times have been posted by among others Jimmy Alder 46mins+ and for the women Jill Hunter and Angie Pain raced to wins in 51mins+ (beating recent winning times for the men). Results and times in this event over the last decade or more reflect the general decline in standard particularly at the sharp end which is mirrored in races throughout the country.
Numbers on the start line were slightly down on the last couple of years and may be highlighted by just 2 Striders taking part (with Phil Owen warming up for a half marathon next day joining me on my 25th start) We have for many years run buses to the event and had competition amongst ourselves attempting to earn grand prix points prior to socialising over a meal and a welcome and deserved beer.
Phil without regard to the morrow started fairly swiftly and I never saw him again until the finish. I plodded my way round the course feeling comfortable but not overly so. Racing as a way and means to fitness used to work but somehow my legs have forgotten this tactic and seem set to go at their own pace!! Still proved to be enjoyable and chance to meet old adversaries again and vow to do better next year.
On a dry, mild but blustery morning four Striders journeyed down to Pocklington, east of York, to join a fully-subscribed entry list intent on taking on the ‘Snake Lane 10’.
650 runners were at the start which got under way at 11am cheered on by a large band of supporters. My customary cautious start from the back left me to catch the keen fast starters over the early and middle miles as the route, which is primarily rural, with no real hills, passes through the village of Bishop Wilton, continuing on a winding and twisting country lane (which obviously reflects and gives rise to the race title) before heading back to the finish in Pocklington town centre. I caught Alan Smith before halfway and we ran together for a few miles before I was able to pull ahead – a rare event!! The race was well-organised and at the event headquarters (the local rubgy club) shower facilities were available, together with food and hot drinks. The bar was also open and taken advantage of. Results were very quickly available to complete a very successful, popular and eagerly looked-forward-to fixture for which entry is highly sought after.