This year’s charity relay was from Whitby to Durham over 14 stages and 100 miles taking in parts of the Cleveland and Teesdale ways. The charity fundraising this year was in aid of the Prostate cancer charity in memory of Mike Hall.
An early start on Saturday morning saw the support bus (Dave Shipman’s camper) head south to Whitby. Good time was made and the 0730 arrival gave us enough time for a brew before setting off. The weather was a little damp but calm. There was no wind and the sea was beautifully calm. The first leg was from Whitby to Runswick (7.5 miles). On this leg were Geoff Watson and Mike Bennett and Benji. A quick photo under the whale bones and then the run was off, down the Promenade and then onto the beach to Sands End. Climbing up from Sands End onto the old railway the route snaked along the coast to Kettleness through fields. Benji took great delight in chasing anything he could; pheasant, rabbit, even a hare to which he gave a determined 100 metre pursuit. After Kettleness the route dropped down onto the beach at Runswick. A final push on the steep road out of the bay took saw the end of the leg at the cliff top car park at 0906 (scheduled start 0925)
Here Jan and Nina were ready to take over and they headed off for the next leg to Skinningrove (8.28 miles) 15 minutes ahead on the schedule. The route from here continues along the Cleveland Way passing through Staithes and taking in the climb over Boulby before a steep descent into the village of Skinningrove. Jan & Nina arrived in good time at 10:43 keeping the schedule up (scheduled start 10:58). Jan and Nina then set off back to Runswick to pick the car up.
Whilst at Skinningrove Dave Robson arrived. Having previous knowledge of the Cleveland Way he offered to guide Mike Bennett and Dave Shipman through Saltburn and Skelton on the next stage to Slapewath whilst the van moved on to the next checkpoint. This next leg was 8.37 miles.
At Slapewath Dave Cattrick arrived but there was no sign of Richard Hall who was his partner for this leg. Dave Robson kindly offered to stand in on this leg over to the hamlet of Kildale. Mike and Dave arrived at 12:24 having had a good run through but losing their way slightly, but time was still in hand with the scheduled start at 12:32. The weather was now becoming more inclement with some heavy bursts of rain. Both Dave’s duly set off for Kilby whilst the van went on to the end of the leg. Here more runners began to arrive with Angela and Nigel for the next leg. Jan and Nina arrived having collected their car from Runswick. The rain continued with occasional showers whilst we waited for the runners. The tea room was a welcome distraction for some of the team. The runners eventually appeared on the hillside descending from Captain Cook’s monument and shortly arrived at the hand over at 14:10 now bang on the schedule. Dave Catterick was continuing whilst Dave Robson stopped. Many thanks to Dave for filling in on this leg.
The next group headed off from Kilby and up the road over the fell heading for Claybank. At Claybank the van parked up at the point were the Cleveland way crosses the road. By now the midgies were beginning to become a nuisance so tea in the van seemed like a great idea. There was certainly plenty to choose from with abundant cake and snacks. Mike’s carrot cake was a hit. As time marched on it seemed that the schedule was going to slip and so it did, however not due to fatigue. There had been some navigational issues on the outward stretch from Kilby that caused the delay. All runners arrived safely with Nigel leading in at 16:15 (scheduled depart 16:02). Nigel and Angela were continuing on accompanied by Kirstin. Dave Catterick now took a well deserved rest having completed 17-18 miles.
The next checkpoint was at Huthwaite, a small hamlet enroute to Scugdale and the start of the cycle leg. On this leg the cyclists included Keith Wesson, Barry Bird, Dave Shipman, Mike Bennett, Paul Gibson and Alan Purvis. Again time was ticking by and concern over the whereabouts of the runners from Claybank grew. Dave Robson had seen them pass through at Carlton Bank, so the they couldn’t be far off. The cyclists were itching to be off as the start time past. The runners eventually arrived at 18:00 (17:17 scheduled depart) and the cyclists headed for Girsby. Keith issued a warning that there should be no attacking in the first mile, however the peacocks in the road put an end to any early breakaways! The ride was over a scenic route along quiet lanes passing through Rounton, Appleton Wiske and Hornby. The riders made good time arriving at Girsby at 19:04 and only 40 minutes over the scheduled time. A good day out!
Those that were staying over now headed for Ingleby Cross and the Blue Bell Inn where there was camping at the back of the pub. The tents went up in the rain, then hot showers and food in a lively pub hosting a 40th birthday party made for a good night. A few pints of the local ‘Slipway’ all round enabled some of us to slip off to sleep quite well despite the rain and revelry. Mike said it didn’t seem long between the party goers leaving and the birds starting singing, but couldn’t say for certain who was late or early!
The morning broke with damp, overcast skies. The cloud hung on the tree tops of the firs up on the hillside. Tents were taken down followed by breakfast at the team van at 0745 followed by a swift drive to Girsby for 9am. Geoff Davis appeared from down the track at Girsby. He and Susan had arrived to run alternate legs for the whole day. So at 9am Dave and Jan set off with Susan for Croft on Tees. At Croft Paul Loftus arrived for the next leg. Concern for the runners on the first leg of the day rose as time ticked by. They eventually arrived at 10:29 (scheduled start at 10:07) having had some tricky navigation round the golf course where the Teesdale way disappeared. Paul, Nina and Geoff Davis now set off for Low Coniscliffe and pulled back some time arriving at 11:23 (schedule 11:15).
George Nicholson had arrived and was ready for his leg, the weather seemingly improving with sunny skies. The next leg saw Susan, George and Geoff Watson head for Piercebridge following the winding path of the Tees. The runners arrived at Piercebridge up on the schedule at 12:05 (schedule 12:14) but thoroughly drenched having been caught in a torrential downpour. This seemed to set a weather pattern for the day where it only rained on the legs George was running!
The next leg was perhaps the trickiest of all, being a connecting leg to take the route from the Teesdale way over to Bishop Auckland. The marked paths were permissible but rarely used and therefore impassable in places. Never the less, Mike Bennett and Geoff Davis made a stern effort and ploughed or hacked their way through the fields arriving up at Brusselton at 13:41 (schedule 13:32).
Whilst they had been out running more tea and cake had been consumed, including Susan’s excellent banana cake! On the next leg were George, Susan, Barry Bird and Andy James. There was a nice downhill start along the bridleway then out on to the roads for a urban leg through Bishop. Rain was visible in the distance, so it must surely have been George’s leg! The van moved on to Newton Cap to see them pass through the carpark. Barry stopped here and Mike ran on for a few miles to the finish of the leg at Hunwick Station.
On arrival at Hunwick Dave Robson, Christina, Denise Mason and Colin Blackburn were waiting. The runners arrived at 14:32 (schedule 14:34) and the next group (Dave, Colin, Denise, Christina, Geoff, Mike) swiftly headed off for Langley Moor. The van moved off to catch the runners at Willington and then Brancepeth where Barry Evans joined in. Somewhere on this leg Anna joined in. At Langley Moor a large group assembled for the last 2 miles. The runners arrived at 15:40 (schedule 15:54). The final group of 13 or 14 headed off across the field only to encounter problems getting out of the field. Having tackled this they headed up to the Duke of Wellington and onwards to Prebends Bridge, the Bailey and the end at the Millennium square arriving at 16:14 with 3 minutes in hand. They were accompanied by Phil and Paul on their bikes
There were a few photo’s and everyone then moved on to the Court where Kim joined us for food. Many thanks to David Shipman who again made his van available as the team HQ along the way and invaluable support vehicle. Thanks go to everyone who took part and made the whole thing possible, I’m sure Mike would have been very proud of everyone!
… Jan Young
Leg 2, Day 1
Nina and Mum ran 8.2 mls from Runswick Bay to Skinningrove, following coastal Cleveland Way footpath. Warm morning, but heavy mist hanging, couldn’t see ‘owt leaning when over sheer cliffs! Speeded up in last two miles, hoping to keep 15 minutes ahead of schedule and must have looked reasonably impressive as one walker asked, ‘Is there a race on?’ exclaiming !!!!!!! nora when we replied ‘100 mile relay from Whitby to Durham’. I assumed his other indistinguishable comments were encouragement! So pleased my route knowledge and map helped Nigel, Angela and Katrina on their leg. We survived the wet overnight camp and thanks for great company in pub. Already looking forward to next year.
… Nigel Heppell
Leg 5, Day 1
Arrived at the hamlet of Kildale on a cool, dank Saturday afternoon and found a good collection of Striders sheltering in various vehicles and tearoom waiting for leg 4 runners to appear up the lane from Cap’n Cook’s Monument. David Catterick and Dave Robson duly arrived bang on schedule and David C, having already covered 8.4 miles, continued on through the next stage with myself and a slightly injured Angela. After a bit of confusion with the route at the end of the first mile where what appeared on the map to be a simple track but was in reality a tarmac road caused us to veer off uphill and get a good soaking in the long grasses, we regained directional control and climbed out of the valley to reach the escarpment. Excellent views back towards Roseberry Topping, ahead to Clay Bank, and west over the flatlands of the vale, close views of some Golden Plover too. Its all a bit featureless up on the top itself though we did find a Hardmoors 110 self-clip tied to a post at one point. Nice headlong charge downhill to the changeover at Claybank where midges were doing their best to antagonise the support crew.
Leg 6, Day 1
Swopped David C for Kirsten at this point and Angela and I carried on. The girls took the sensible route contouring around the treeline but I had a new pair of shoes to break in for the Saunders MM so I went up over the tops to view the Wainstones and give my feet a bit of a workout. There are quite a few climbs and descents on this route but we managed to meet up at the dips and came into Carlton Bank carpark together where Jan, Nina and Dave R gave cheer. Jan also sent us off on an attractive undulating trail underneath Lordstones that eventually led us through some very boggy woods before spitting us out onto the Cleveland Way again. A steady trot down the lane to Huthwaite where a whole bunch of strangely attired folk sat astride their cycles straining against their brakes ready to make up some of the time we lost on this section. Not the warmest or driest of runs but very satisfying all the same.
… George Nicholson
Leg 10, Day 2
I arrived early at Low Coniscliffe on the Sunday morning for the start of Leg 10. Soon the support ‘convoy’ drove ‘into town’ and before much longer the leg 9’ers arrived on foot. Susan, Geoff W & I set off along the Teesdale Way following the River Bank footpaths heading towards Piercebridge. Susan who had earlier said she preferred running in the rain, soon got what she wished for – BIG TIME . The shower didn’t last long, however the volume of water that fell out the sky in that time more than made up for it’s brevity. We left the river banks briefly as the path went through the hamlet of Carlbury, then returned back down to the riverside again and proceeded in great haste to arrive at the lovely village of Piercebridge for the next hand over. I should have guessed with Susan & Geoff the pace would have been fast, and I only really managed to catch them, and my breath, at the finish. For the record it should be noted that this leg started 5 mins behind schedule and finished 10 mins in front !- say no more… I rested a while before driving north in the sunshine to collect Andy James and return with him to meet up with Barry B. & Susan at Brussleton. The 4 of us due to run leg 12 to Hunwick… and guess what ? it was starting to rain again.
… Andy James
Leg 12, Day 2
Having met a very wet George at Hunwick (he was organized enough to have a change of running clothes!), we traveled to Brussleton to meet up with our fellow runners (Susan and Barry Bird) and the back up team. After waiting anxiously for half an hour for Mike and Geoff – the notoriety of their leg was public knowledge – their 2 figures appeared to much cheering at the top of a hill. I was so looking forward to that long downhill start – but to no avail – it was so muddy that no speed was possible. A very straightforward leg, mostly on road, meant navigation was not an issue so I could concentrate all my energy on keeping up with the goddess of Strider running?! My fellow runners were actually very kind to someone who only trains once a week and we managed to make up some time. The route took us on the West Auckland bypass, along Watling Road and through Bishop town centre (not a pretty sight with all the shuttered shops) and then onto Newton Cap viaduct. Dave, Geoff and team were a welcome sight at the car park then the long railway path to Hunwick. We made it and NO RAIN, despite being with George! Thanks everyone for a great time.
… Colin Blackburn
Leg 13, Day 2
As Elfie and I arrived at the car park at Hunwick Station I was surprised to see just a couple of cars and no compervan. I quickly checked that the cars contained someone I knew before Elfie drove off – you never know what people get up to in remote car parks on a Sunday! Denise, Dave R and Fetchie Christina were sitting out the drizzle in Denise’s car, Denise discovering various things about her car like where the tyre pressures were listed. It was getting close to the changeover time with no sign of the runners or the campervan. Just as I got my phone out to check for emails a fleet of vehicles arrived from one direction and the incoming runners from the other. A very quick change of clothes and we were off. Geoff D, Mike and Benji decided to stay on for another leg (not sure if Benji had any choice) and so the six of us and a dog set off for Langley Moor. At some point Anna jumped out of a bush and joined us! The great thing about only railway lines is that they are flat, this made for a very enjoyable run. In fact it must have been good because I don’t even remember going through Willington.
Leg 14, Day 2
At Langley Moor several of us set off on the final leg into Durham. You’ll have to forgive me for not remembering everyone on this leg but there was Mike E, Keith, Angela, Anna,… and the others! Despite this being the shortest leg it started somewhat hesitantly with some terrible navigating. We all charged across a field full of horses like something from the Wild West. a very steep bank brought us to a stand still. A quick diversion and we found a way down. It turned out to be a mudslide, one that Angela did on her backside. After going under the viaduct we tried to find our way into someone’s back garden before finally finding the stile out of the field and realising we should have stayed high. I blame the map. The rest of the run went smoothly as we trod regular roads and paths through Durham while Phil O did stunts on his bike as he tried to get the odd picture of us in action. We arrived in Millennium Square to the applause of lots of other Striders and after a few photos we decamped to the Court Inn for a well earned pint or two and some food.
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