I’ve been to the Kendal Mountain Festival a few times over the years and always been inspired by the programme of storytelling, films and other presentations. So when I lined up with over 600 other runners on a cold but sunny morning at the start of the festival’s 10k trail race I felt confident in my ability to tackle a challenging course.
We ascended almost continuously over the first two miles, heading out from the centre of Kendal in a south-westerly direction over the substantial rocky limestone escarpment of Helsington Barrows. We then turned north along Scout Scar with the exquisite Lyth Valley down below us to the west, and a panorama of Lake District fells in front of us. The conditions were much easier now, on gentler gradients and short turf, and it didn’t seem long before we turned eastwards towards Kendal with the Howgill and Barbon Fells coming into view beyond. Just to add to the variety of underfoot conditions the final mile of the route included some muddy downhill slopes and back streets with many steep steps, before finishing in the town centre.
How did I feel at the end of the race? Pretty good really – I’d prepared mentally for the first two uphill miles, and once that section was over it was just a case of keeping a rhythm going and concentrating as best I could on running technique.
An exhilarating experience, setting me up nicely for the rest of the festival to enjoy some more stories of exploration and endurance.
Sunny skies and calm conditions greeted the five Striders who turned out for this local race, which I believe is just over 10K in length. The very warm conditions and after-effects of the previous day’s birthday celebrations with my two brothers combined to make if feel a little longer than the advertised distance.
The course starts off from Sedgefield Cricket Club, snakes its way past the Serpentine lakes in Hardwick Hall, and then on footpaths and bridleways across arable and livestock farmland towards Bishop Middleham. This is attractive country, with much evidence of participation by local farmers in Countryside Stewardship schemes: there are lakes and ponds adjacent to the route, and wide uncultivated strips on the margins of fields which the race route takes advantage of. Other features of interest adjacent to the route include a quad bike circuit, a golf course and Castle Lake, one of a mosaic of good birdwatching sites in this area, where Durham Bird Club and other conservation organisations have done tremendous work. On the homeward half the route crosses the river Skerne near its source, and then passes close to another lake on the site of the old Fishburn cokeworks, so successfully restored that there is now little sign of this area’s industrial past. Finally the route returns through Hardwick Hall and finishes back at the convivial surroundings of the cricket club.
Overall I think the five of us were well pleased with our times and Jan deserves a special mention for coming first in her age-group category, receiving a trophy and bottle of wine for her success. It was certainly a very enjoyable event in a colourful, relaxed atmosphere, well organised by Sedgefield Harriers. The number of participants has almost doubled since I first completed the race in 2009, and its increasing popularity is not at all surprising.
A glance at the route on an Ordnance Survey map a few years ago was enough to entice me to do this race, just under 8 miles in length. I’ve now done it three or four times and it continues to hold its appeal.
The race starts and finishes in Allendale Town, and is one of the events in the town’s annual fair, so there is a lot to enjoy in addition to the race itself. This year the weather was cool and overcast with drizzle, not bad for running but not what the organisers of the fair had hoped for.
The route is principally on minor roads with no traffic, and passes through some superb north Pennines scenery in the valley of the river East Allen. You start off with three relatively flat miles through woodland and hay meadows before crossing the river and encountering a serious hill taking you up to the moor edge, alive with the calls of curlew, lapwing and redshank, all mildly agitated by your proximity to their breeding territories. The inward half of the race is exhilarating, by and large downhill with great views across the valley.
Complacency evaporates however when you cross the river again a quarter of a mile from the finish, where another steep hill has to be negotiated. Somehow or other I got to the top without walking, cheered on by a lot of spectators whose support was extremely useful at this stage of the race. A nice event, hosted with customary skill by Allen Valley Striders.
This is a race that I have enjoyed doing a few times in the past, and today was no exception. There’s a great atmosphere at the start on the quayside on the estuary of the River Blyth, with the prospect of fast times on a flat course. The route heads south out of the town and then on a path along the coast through dunes to Seaton Sluice before returning back on pavements to the finishing line on the quayside. As you run towards the halfway mark the ‘out and back’ shape of the course allows you to see the leading runners as they head for home – for me personally a rare sight indeed.
Conditions were bright and sunny, with a slight breeze, so pretty much ideal. As usual there was plenty of support along the route which helped me get into a decent running rhythm. After the challenge of the Prudhoe Harrier League hills last week it was interesting to experience a completely different sort of race, both in terms of terrain and topography.
Thanks are due to Blyth Running Club for another well organised race; I think I was the only Strider who did this one but I’d certainly recommend it. Hopefully I’ll be there again next year….
The weather was hot and sunny for this race over nearly eight miles, organised by the Allen Valley Striders. It took place on traffic-free rural roads through upland meadows and a few small woods in the valley of the river East Allen, in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
It was good to meet up with Jo, Emma and Andrew who put in sterling performances to overcome the twin challenges of hills and heat. The race forms one of the events of the Allendale Fair, so there is a chance to take in all the other activities and enjoy the convivial atmosphere. A really good day out, and a race to be recommended.