Category Archives: Diane Watson

Rab Mini Mountain Marathon, Totley, Peak District, Sunday, February 7, 2016

Four hour score course

Diane Watson

Diane and Scott at celebrate the finish of the first of the Rab Mini Mountain Marathons 2016We arrived at Rotherham East Premier Inn at half past midnight on Sunday morning, me after finishing a 12 hour shift and Scott after having competed in the Wadsworth Trog with Tom and Paul so straight to bed and lights out by 1am. At 6.30am, the phone alarm tinkled its tune: an expensive five and a half hours’ sleep but so worth it not to have to travel the whole way to the Peak District on the day as registration opened 07.30am. So a little apprehensive, I was ready for my first taste of a mountain marathon…

We arrived at Totley Moor sports club on the edge of the Peak District near Sheffield, now with the promise of good weather despite a gloomy earlier forecast and registered straight away in the Mixed Vet50 class. There was a very thorough kit check that included a compulsory bivvy bag each! (note to self: don’t try to get away with less than all of the compulsory items as we would not have been allowed to start).

Map for the Rab Mini Mountain Marathon 2016 at Totley in the Peak DistrictWe had four hours to gather as many points as possible so route choice was important to try to bag some of the higher scoring control points. We looked at the map together and agreed on the first couple of control points before heading straight up a hill and onto the fells almost immediately. I always need a decent warm up and my legs felt really stiff for the first couple of miles – I thought they were never going to get going.

The intention was for me to learn how to take bearings which can be crucial for yomping across expanses of moorland in the absence of other features. This meant that we tended to take a more direct route whereas some runners appeared to make more use of the paths. It seemed to pay off most of the time for us and was far more interesting.

We got to the first control without any problem, then took a bearing to head towards the next; a trig point that was out of sight. As we got close to where we needed to be, Scott was distracted by a huge cairn that had several runners going to and from it. There was no cairn on the map but we headed for it anyway thinking that it might have been listed incorrectly. However, we knew it wasn’t a trig point and that it was not quite where we expected the control to be. Needless to say there was no control kite there. Another lesson learned: not to blindly follow other runners.

Higher now, we turned around and spotted the trig point on the sky line. Once there, a bearing pointed us in the direction of our third control choice: it was a large tunnel shaft on a low hill with lots of heather and marsh in between, little of which was runnable. It was pretty windy on the tops and pretty cold, and I was having trouble with the heather loosening my laces (Scott quickly showed me a much more secure lace-fastening technique)

By this time we had decided that to speed things up Scott would do the navigating and show me on the map what he was proposing to do. I could then concentrate on running and read the control descriptions that were rather unhelpfully written on the reverse of the map meaning that it had to be unfolded each time.

Next, we were looking for the start of a stream in a very boggy area with really deep, ankle wrenching tussocks. Scott said that he had never experienced anything as bad, and he’s done similar events all over the country. I ended up face first, followed by several minor ankle twists and a fall onto my backside. It took us quite a while to find that lousy 10-point control which was visible only from one direction. Another runner was fairing no better and although Scott managed to get the control unseen, I, in my bright pink jacket, was blazing towards it like a beacon and the runner just followed me, pleased for the advantage.

We managed to find control after control over varied and challenging terrain and even had a moment of glory in finding a control described as a large group of rocks (with a dangerous cliff nearby). We later found out that several runners had been unable to locate it and it was the subject of much discussion back at the finish.

On the homeward stretch, we managed to fit in an extra control with a minor route change and had enough time to ease off a little for the last couple of kilometres. We were prematurely congratulating ourselves when Scott realised that with a one-and-a-half kilometre detour we could have bagged one of only two 40-pointers on the course; that would have brought us up from 10th in our mixed age group to 6th, and we had had time enough to comfortably do it!

I couldn’t believe that four hours could pass so quickly, and it was so much fun. We finished the event off with homemade soup, tea and cakes at the finish…..after it had taken me about ten minutes to undo the new lace solution….maybe just a bit too secure! I am now enthused and am keen to complete the series of four….watch out Lake District; the Watsons are coming!

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Dales Trail Series DT30, Muker, Swaledale, Saturday, July 11, 2015

33 km

Diane Watson


Start of the 33 km Durham Trails Series DT30 race at Muker, Swaledale

As we drew closer to Swaledale about 8.30am, the weather was not looking too good. A grey sky was drizzling miserably and low cloud obscuring the high ground filled me with trepidation in case visibility was poor. I knew I was going to have to rely on other runners and markers to get me round the course. The route was described as being partially marked and marshalled at key direction changes, but it looked fairly straight forward on the map. As usual, my insecurities about navigation came to the fore but as a map wasn’t compulsory I felt reassured that it would be OK. We met Elaine Bisson in the car park who had planned to run with John Ayres. Unfortunately at 06.30 that morning John had called to say that he had injured his back and that he couldn’t run. Like me, Elaine had no map and hadn’t had a chance to look at the route as John had planned to show her round.

The event seemed well organised with plenty of drinks and snacks for sale and after a quick cup of tea and a flapjack we set off to the start about 1km away where we met Dave Robson and Mel Hudson who seemed keen to get started. By now the sun was shining and it was pretty warm. The briefing informed us that the route was actually 33k, but we were told with tongue firmly in cheek that since the first 3k was on roads, it technically was still a 30k trail race (not sure how that works!). We were triple counted and suddenly we were off.

Having been warned that the first 5 miles was uphill, it was not as bad as I thought with some bits more runnable than others. However, the fast runners quickly left me for dead and I took up close to the rear with a couple of other ladies. We had been warned to take it easy on the narrow rocky descent after 5 miles or so, but even so, I managed to trip over a rock (or maybe it was my own feet). Momentum took over and I hit the the ground with knee and thigh before inadvertently using my left boob as an airbag against a rock. I think it might possibly have saved me a rib fracture but it hurt (I have a colourful chest as a reminder)! A very caring runner stayed with me for a few moments whilst I got to my feet; I declined her water to drink or to wash my bloodied knee with, and steadily increased from a hobble back to a run. I did keep telling her to run on but she refused, and I felt a brief (very brief) pang of guilt as I ran off and left her behind…!

Diane, Dave and Mel pass the Tan Hill Inn, the highest point of the DT30 trail race

It was hot and I was pleased that there were 5 drinks stations, having previously thought it was a bit of overkill for 33k. I made a point of drinking at each one but still ended up a bit dehydrated at the end of the day. At roughly the half way point I reached the famous Tan Hill pub where Mel and Dave caught and left me, and I where my husband, Scott, was waiting with camera in one hand and a half pint of ‘Ewe’s Juice’ ale in the other. I could see he was twitching that I stopped at the checkpoint to eat one of my mini cheese and pickle sandwiches (washing it down with water and an excellent flavourless isotonic drink). Although I was pretty quick I expected to have an ear bashing at the finish, which was duly delivered. Yes, I accept that my drinking and eating on longer races could be more efficient but I’ve not got the knack yet so give me a chance, I only started racing 9 months ago!

Diane gives it everything in a sprint finish after 33 km!

The route then continued on a grassy/tussocky/boggy descent and very rocky trails. At one point my injured leg disappeared into a black, squidgy, peat bog (though it probably did the grazes some good). Out, up and off again, I was on a roll. Feeling low on energy I had a very quick drink and a gel at the 23K station and was soon feeling pretty good again. It didn’t seem long before I passed the 28K checkpoint and came upon a narrow, rocky steep incline, albeit short with a marshall at the top who directed me to the left saying ‘Only another couple of K to go’. That was a looooooong 2K! There were groups of walkers coming in the opposite direction; the path was intermittently narrow and rocky, up and down, but most of the walkers moved to let me past. I thanked them, one and all (had a Striders vest on and had to at least APPEAR to be nice) and was looking forward to a leisurely flat and grassy finish. Eventually I went through a gate – which closed with a loud clang – and at last could see, in the distance, the finish alongside the river. A few brief seconds later I heard the gate clang again. I knew it was another lady, who had shadowed me for much of the race and I thought that if she overtook me now I was incapable of increasing my pace for that distance so I would just have to accept that she is a better woman than me. But it didn’t happen and with about 50 metres to go I eventually heard her breathing heavily behind me – right on my shoulder. All I could think was (penny in the swear box) “there’s no ******* way she’s taking my place now!”.

I mustered up some energy from somewhere deep down, somewhere that I had never before delved into, and ran hell for leather! It paid off and I beat her by 2 seconds. Although I thought I had 3 or 4 runners behind me, I was chuffed to find that there were actually 10. My jubilation that I’d not let myself nor the Striders down was embellished by finding out that Elaine had finished 3rd lady overall. Now I’m back home nursing my bruises and looking forward to the next challenge…. Anybody know if arnica’s any good?

Elaine takes a well earned 3rd Lady prize in the DT30 at Muker, Swaledale


position bib name club cat time
1 66 Ben Hukins M 02:30:06
8 26 Lucy Colquhoun FV35 02:53:24
27 11 Elaine Bisson Elvet Striders FV35 03:08:35
98 64 Melanie Hudson Elvet Striders FV35 04:14:30
99 117 Dave Robson Elvet Striders MV60 04:14:31
105 146 Diane Watson Elvet Striders FV45 04:25:23

115 finishers.

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Hexhamshire Hobble, Allendale, Sunday, December 7, 2014

CM/16.8 km/379 m

Diane Watson

Hell Freezes Over at the Hobble!

Elvet Striders gather in the sports hall for the 21st Angus Tait Memorial Hexhamshire Hobble in Allendale, NorthumberlandThis was my very first fell race: I entered on the day with relative confidence that I could finish it without getting lost but had no idea about how long I would take. It was 0°C when we bundled out of the car into the school sports hall where I was worrying about the kit check. I had all of the essential kit with me, but if I’d been asked any more than could be written on a postage stamp about how to use the compass, I would have failed miserably although my appreciation of the route was helped by having taken the time to study the course map and Google Earth at home.

After a brief pre-race talk we filed out to the start and were off pretty quickly, straight up a viciously steep hill then, after a fairly short section of road, we reached the first check point and turned left onto the fell for the first time. I started off trying to avoid the inevitable foot soaking, but once my feet were wet, there was little to lose, which made navigating through the mud and puddles much easier as I could stop dancing around as much to avoid the water.

It wasn’t long before a vicious snow storm descended upon us, carried on a biting arctic wind. The snow, alternating with hail, was being driven with force horizontally onto the side of my head and face and I was forced to stop and dig around in my brand-new bumbag for some warmer gear. I could see why we had to carry it all. If anyone had to stop with an injury in this, they would become dangerously cold very quickly.

Many were putting on jackets but all I wanted was my hat, which provided as much protection as I felt I needed. Off I went again and was constantly trying to find decent footing. There were huge icy-cold puddles – some almost knee deep – and slippery mud (though not as slippery as Aykley Heads cross-country mud I thought), with the track deeply rutted with loose stones in places making it frequently easier to run on the heather.

Soon I was descending to the first burn where I was protected from the wind, with the snow no longer falling as little ice swords, but as fluffy, fairy-tale, flakes. Then it was steeply up the other side to continue on the exposed track. Although the route was pretty obvious and there were always others to follow, there was at least one place where I could easily have taken a wrong turn but I had my trusty map with me and knew exactly where I was…no compass required!

I knew I was more than half way but could not relax into the run because once again, the vicious horizontal snow started, this time full into my face as I was now heading back towards the start. The combined snow and wind was so bad that my face was freezing and incredibly painful. I tried to protect it with my map at the expense of my hands but managed to keep running.

I found this section more challenging than the first and was constantly trying to choose the best line, which was difficult with reduced visibility due to the snow. My legs were starting to feel quite fatigued and I could feel another spectacular face plant coming on (to go with the one I did on the Hardmoors half at Goathland)!

But before anything drastic happened, I’d reached the marshalls on the edge of the fell who were reassuring us that it was “nearly done…all downhill now”. The road ahead seemed to go on for a very long way and I was perturbed not to see any signs of a village. I was overtaken by some runners who seemed to be enjoying the dreaded tarmac that is my personal nemesis.

Then Scott, my husband, appeared as a welcome friendly face to cheer me on and tell me that I didn’t have much further to go. I took great delight in running down the field to the finish line to see Penny and Flip, on their way to the car, cheering me in.

Back in a nice warm sports hall, I was taking off my shoes as requested and whilst my sausage-like fingers were struggling with my laces I was trying desperately to tell a woman who was offering to help runners with their shoes that there was a pin on the floor as lots of runners were in stockinged feet; my frozen face and lips would not respond however, and I couldn’t say the words without gibbering!

I was never so pleased for a warm cup of tea. There were a few pretty sickly looking runners in the hall, shivering in space blankets so I felt quite lucky that I was not hypothermic in such extreme conditions (despite having not used my jacket or gloves) and it was only my face that had felt the cold. Even my hands were warm when I first got back. I did manage a chuckle when I overheard one runner in the hall say that he couldn’t understand why he had to have a compass as he would ever need to draw a circle on the fell!

I was well impressed with the marshalls who were standing around in very exposed places in the same blizzard conditions that it was cold enough running in. They were all friendly, encouraging, and positive. I am really grateful to them for being there for us, and for everyone who baked scones and cakes and fed us hot drinks. I won a nice buff as a spot prize (donated by the race sponsor – the Ultra Runner Store) and it was good to meet the chap who provided them.

I shall never forget the first of what I hope will be many fell races. It was an experience and a half, and I am assured by my husband that I will probably have to do a lot of fell runs to encounter such conditions again.


Pos Name Club Cat Time
1 Ben Abdelnoor Ambleside AC MSEN 01:13:22
34 Emma Bain Northumberland Fell Runners W40 01:25:09
48 Scott Watson M50 01:29:49
63 Penny Browell W40 01:32:51
109 Camilla Lauren Maatta W40 01:47:06
124 Phil Owen M40 01:50:09
134 Innes Hodgson M50 01:55:38
145 Melanie Hudson WSEN 02:04:31
146 Dave Robson M60+ 02:04:36
156 Kate MacPherson W40 02:07:37
159 Diane Watson W50 02:09:35
167 Sue Jennings W40 02:27:48

168 finishers. Penny Browell 2nd W40

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Hardmoors Trail Half Marathon, Saturday, November 8, 2014

Diane Watson

Elvet Striders at the Hardmoors Trail Events, Goathland, North Yorks: Jules; Mark; Anita; Phil; Diane; Helen; LyndsayI entered this off-road half marathon, which was part of the Hardmoors 26.2 Trail Marathon series of races, with trepidation having never run a trail or fell race before. I had gone over the course on the map with a little help from my husband Scott, and felt sure I stood little chance of getting lost, but it was nice to have the reassurance of a backstop runner just in case.

After meeting up with Phil, Juliet and Anita, who were also doing the half marathon and Anita’s husband Mark together with Lyndsay and Helen Rodgers who were all doing the 10K (Dave Robson and Mel Hudson were doing the marathon but I never actually saw them), we set off on what was a chilly (six degrees) morning with a promise of rain by the afternoon.

Diane on the muddy trail over Simon Howe RiggFollowing a gentle downhill start, the steep steps of the first incline got the blood pumping ready for the action at the top. Through the woods, we passed the spectacular waterfall of Mallyan Spout then crossed the river via stepping stones that were about 6 inches below fast flowing water (I had thought at the race brief that the stepping stones had been a joke and so it seemed did the runner behind me).

Then, after a tough climb out of the woods, we were onto the fell sections which were pretty muddy (up to the knee at times) but the views were great. The two jelly babies I took from the 1st checkpoint were carefully tucked away in my pocket but they were a sorry state when I eventually took them out at home! The later sections of forest track however were not my thing at all: they were fast (I’m not) and long and not at all enjoyable as several runners caught and passed me.

Scott came with me for support on the day and was running around with the dog taking photos. He cheekily told me later that he was disappointed about his failure to get a photo of me belly down in the mud after I made a full-length ‘face plant’ courtesy of the effect of muddy, rocky paths on tired legs. However, the resulting face decorations seemed to delight many back at the village hall!

Finished with a face-pack!I was really pleased at how I went overall – particularly over the last fell section – not fast but nice and steady, catching other runners every now and then. Unfortunately, as soon as I hit the road on the run into the finish in Goathland, quite a few passed me, some of whom had overtaken me on the previous road section and who I’d then caught on the fell.

I was chuffed to get back in time for the presentations having previously laughed at how early they were (I expected to be out much longer than I was) and for the fact that I was never close enough to the back to be able to see the backstop runner (hallelujah!).

We had escaped all but the slightest sprinkle of rain, but the marathon runners including Dave and Mel were not so lucky. By the time we were chomping on well-deserved quiche and cakes (very nice!) the rain was falling heavily and it was still only one degree higher than the morning. I can see now why waterproofs were compulsory but was quietly pleased that my race had ended.

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