Category Archives: Simon Gardner

Bottoms Up Cup, Sunday, May 31, 2015

Simon Gardner

I was supposed to be lining up at the Middlesbrough 5K but constant injury problems and not mentally able to push myself hard I decided (or bottled it) to give a new race a go and not chase a time.

The recently reformed Washington running club had put this 5K on to help publicise the club. The race HQ was based at Biddick school which meant excellent parking and facilities. After picking up my number I had a quick chat with John Hutchinson and then made the 10 minute walk from the school to the start.

The course is based in princess Anne park and after a short briefing we were on our way with a flat straight first 1K which then went down into the woods. They did say part of the course was on trail and with the overnight rain this made it very slippy in places. Obviously what goes down must come up and my heart sank at the sight of more steps to climb (I’d had my fill of steps at George ogle). This just about reduced most people to a walking pace.

Once out the woods it was back on to the paths with several undulations I was struggling to find any rhythm (running mojo lost please return to me if found ) but thankfully with being just 5K it wasn’t long until we were back on the finish straight crossing the line in 11th place.

It’s a very cheap race £5 and very well marshalled so if you fancy a good challenging 5K then it’s definitely one for next year.

(Visited 21 times, 1 visits today)

Signals Relays, Hetton Lyon Country Park, Saturday, February 14, 2015

Simon Gardner

As will be probably know by now I’m a lover of relay events so after spectating at this event over the last 3 years I decided to try and organise some teams to represent our club.

The event is based in Hetton Lyons park near Houghton Le Spring and is all on Tarmac paths (my favourite), so after a lot of reorganising teams due to several members being hit by flu and colds we had two male and two female teams ready to go.

Our two female teams of four runners were first to go , Elaine and Steph first away and they did not let us down Elaine covering the undulating 2.2 mile (2 lap course) in a speedy 14min 17s which was the fastest time of the day, special mention goes to Katy who was not far behind and looks like to be returning to top form as well.

I had arranged the teams in a rough order of speed rather than the strict age categories so the birthday girl Sally Riding ran with out Vet 35 team, I just think it’s better running with people of similar pace and also it would much more difficult to get full teams out with just 18 runners.

It was soon the boys turn with two teams of six runners set up ready to go. Again they were some great performances with Rob Everson fastest strider of the day covering the 2.2 mile in 12min 28s with Gareth 2 seconds behind (who was also first finisher at hartlepool parkrun in 17:32 that morning!) and myself following in 12:33 (canny happy with that!- but God it hurt)

Another special mention goes to our wonderful support crew (Alister , Jacquie, Jill, Anna) and the cake which was wonderful. From myself I want to thank everyone for their efforts today, a fantastic tail runner experience at Durham parkrun this followed by running with our wonderful club was just what I needed. Next year anyone ?

(Visited 88 times, 1 visits today)

Norman Woodcock Road Race, Newcastle Race Course, Saturday, December 6, 2014

Simon Gardner

This is a race that I have wanted to do for a while, 2 years ago I was injured and last year I had the very good excuse of being in Australia so thankfully no excuses this year so despite missing the Chelsea home game (thanks a lot BT!) I managed to make the start line for once.

After a comfortable journey in I bumped into Stephen Jackson at the number collection point and was soon joined by Gareth Pritchard. The race is set on the race course at Newcastle and uses the ambulance track which runs around the inside perimeter of the course.

I had been in great form but wasn’t sure what to expect to be honest, I had been unwell during the week and had not ran since Mansfield parkrun the week before and I had also lost a lot of motivation since my Leeds 10K. A steady Durham parkrun in the morning showed that my stomach was thankfully settled. During the warm up I decided that I would try for an opening 6 minute mile and then try and maintain that hopefully getting a sub 30 minute for the 5 mile and therefore a shiny new PB.

After the normal elbows out start I was able to find some space and settle down into what I thought was a steady pace. The first half of the opening lap probably is a little up and down but not bad at all. My watched beeped for the first mile and showed 5:48 which was way too fast, god what a start! I decided to slow back down to 6:00 to try and leave something in the tank for the end but after doing a 6 min mile I had started to pick off several runners so I knew deep down I was stepping onboard the pain train.

Miles 3 & 4 were back under 6 minutes and I was hurting big style but by this point I knew I was on the last lap of 3 and only had a mile to go and boy what an uncomfortable mile that was! As normal I was having some very negative thoughts (just drop out, slow down – I find it such a mental battle) but I managed to hang on to clock a new 5 mile PB of 29:21 which I’m delighted with.

Very well done to Stephen Jackson for a an excellent 28:55 and Gareth for a sub 30 with still very heavy legs after Brampton to Carlisle

Back next year? , yeah probably!

(Visited 15 times, 1 visits today)

Mansfield parkrun, Mansfield, Notts, Saturday, November 29, 2014

Simon Gardner

A trip down to my sister’s often ends up with a bit of parkrun tourism and this time it was no different: I had a quick look about and my original plan was to go to the Rushcliffe parkrun but a last minute change of heart meant a trip to Mansfield won the day as it was only a 30-minute drive away.

The run is based in a park about 2.5 miles outside the town centre and is a 3-lap flat course on concrete paths with a bit of muddy, gravel track thrown in. The start was like nothing I’d encountered before: it is a path which isn’t very wide, so several runners, myself included, congregated on a grassy bank adjacent to it, and of course this meant it was elbows out a bit while the two groups came together on the path, however it soon settled down.

I had over-indulged somewhat on the Friday, so arrived not exactly in prime racing condition and my first mile was around 6:16, putting me in about 7th place. I was tempted just to take it steady but I thought, “let’s start to run hard and see what happens”. I soon managed to catch everyone else, and overtook the first-placed runner at around the 2.5 mile point.

However, with it being laps you can get caught up with some of the later runners, which duly happened on this occasion. One runner accidentally blocked me off, but we both shouted our apologies and I still managed a somewhat weary but very welcome first place! (it’s fantastic to finish first but the other runner’s 30 minute parkrun was just as important as my 18 minute one).

I like the smaller parkruns as they have a family feel and Mansfield fitted the bill nicely.

(Visited 29 times, 1 visits today)

Leeds Abbey Dash 10K, Sunday, November 16, 2014

Simon Gardner

Just after the Darlington 10K I was approached by Allan Seheult asking if I would be interested in following a 10K training plan. I immediately said yes but deep down I was worried about if I could physically and mentally follow a tough training plan.

I think it’s fair to say I have had a very up and down year so far; I had a great run with Graeme Walton at Coniston 14 in March but since that point I had been having chronic problems with my left calf and achilles which culminated in a terrible run at the Pit Stop 10K in June at which I should have achieved a PB but missed out and totally trashed my achilles. I really thought at the time that was probably it and I would never improve my 10K time.

Thankfully with the help of Trevor and Neil at Platinum I scraped a new 10K PB at Tees Pride of 38:24. While I was pleased with the time it felt hideously painful and the thought of going for my ultimate target of under 38min was very intimidating but as they say “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and 10 weeks of hard training was about to start.

It’s weird how the training works, you go for several weeks not feeling much quicker but gradually it starts to kick in. I had managed to chip away at my parkrun PB then managing my fastest ever 5K and had also beaten my target for Leeds at the Town Moor 10K. So armed with a new 10K PB of 37:14 I was ready for the Abbey Dash. I had a discussion with Allan and he suggested that I should go for a 36 minute 10K. The thought of a PB in the 36 minute area was kind of scary – could I do sub-6 minute miling for 6.2 miles? – and God only knows how much it would hurt!

The Abbey Dash is well known as a very fast 10K. It attracts some of the fastest 10K runners in the country so my thinking was that I would get pulled along with everyone else. It’s basically a flat out and back and as quick as you will find. As it was a 9:30 am start I travelled down on the Saturday so I could get to the start rested and ready to go.

Even though it starts on the road you actually congregate in a square which is set up according to the time you originally gave; they then walk each pen down in order, to the start line. It’s a basic system, but one the likes of the Blaydon race could and should learn from. The start was very swift even though I set off bang on 6-minute miling I had loads of people flying past but that never bothers me as I know I have to run my own race.

Approaching the turnaround point at half way I knew I was quicker than Town Moor but I was finding the very slight climb at that stage very difficult. After the turnaround I did start to have some negative thoughts and did wonder if I should ease off as it felt very hard. Thankfully at this stage I got a shout out from Debbie McFarland and it was just the boost I needed. I said to myself that it might be my only chance of hitting my target so just run as hard as possible.

I had a quick chat with Jason Allison from Crook AC before the run who showed me the only the only real climb which was just before the finish: it’s very short and not that steep really but on desperately tired legs it felt horrendous. However, just over the brow of the hill I could see the finish and the clock was still in the 36 minute mark and I knew at that point I had done it.

I’m thrilled at a new PB of 36:36 for 10K, averaging 5:54 per mile. I might never get close again but 10+ weeks of hard work and sacrifice have been worth it. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Allan for his support – I couldn’t have done it without him.

I know this race generally clashes with Brampton to Carlisle but I would definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a fast 10K run.

(Visited 23 times, 1 visits today)

Gateshead Harriers & AC / Quayside Business Forum 5K, Thursday, August 21, 2014

Simon Gardner, Dougie Nisbet

Simon Gardner …

Simon in the final kilometre.
© Barry Cornelius

Any race that has the magic words flat and Fast in the description gets me interested so despite costing £15! I entered hoping for a reasonable time and a desperate return to some sort of form.

I had been struggling recently, my times in track sessions had been very good but the mental side of running was once again something I was struggling with during recent races. I had recently done the Darlington 10K in 38:53 but the first 2 miles were way off pace and felt like slowing to a jog until mile 2 then ran really well for the reminder of the race. I really should have PB’d in that race but at least it showed that I was in fairly good shape.

After getting there very early (as normal) I was soon joined by Dougie, Alister, Rebecca and Richard “Ironman” hall along with the fast lads from Crook AC. It was obvious from the start this was going to be high calibre race with several runners from Morpeth including Ian Hudspith who still holds the Newcastle parkrun all time PB.

The course starts on the Newcastle Side of the Quayside just near the pitcher and piano and heads up river past all the bridges. The turn around point is just short of the half way point and you head down river back to the Millennium Bridge with finish on the Gateshead side.

I decided to not look at my watch and just run to feel, it is a fairly narrow start but it’s not long before it opens out a little, to be honest it was probably ideal as it stopped me going off too hard.

After the turn around I decided just go as hard as I could and if I ran out steam then at least I could say I gave it everything. Thankfully it was the best I have ran in months and was I delighted (and exhausted) to cross the line in 18:13.

Thanks to all the Striders there and especially to Allan for the track and Grass sessions they have really made a difference.

… Dougie Nisbet

At over a pound a mile dearer than the Great North Run I imagined for a second that I could sense Danny’s incandescence sizzling quietly in the evening sunlight. Ordinarily I wouldn’t pay £15 for a 5K that I could do £15 cheaper any Saturday of the year in parkruns all around the country. But I work next door, and I’ve not done a road race for a while. A fast, flat 5K would be useful in providing me with some no-nonsense feedback about what sort of shape I was in.

Daniel Buren - Catch as catch can: works in situ Just after 6pm I wandered out of BALTIC, registered, then wandered back to my desk and had a nice cup of tea. I looked out of the window and saw a splash of purple so wandered out again to meet my fellow Striders who’d also decided to give this new race a whirl. As 7pm approached we made our way across the Millennium Bridge to the Start of the race in Newcastle. The race started right on time, even if the starting hooter didn’t, but we all got the message, and we leapt away up the River Tyne.

Plenty of marshalls, signs and tape kept us right. It was a straight out and back and it was no time at all before the Scarily Fast runners could be seen coming back downriver. Simon, Alister, and Rich were mixing it up with the SFRs but I wasn’t so far back myself and feeling exhausted but upbeat. Short races are just so much harder than long races, and you have to keep concentrating or your pace slips, and in a short race, you pay for that lapse of concentration. I grabbed the lampost at the turn and birled round and I was heading home. A slight tailwind and, because you’re going downriver you can tell yourself you’re going downhill, and I kept my pace up.

I tried to not keep glancing at my watch but I realised I was in danger of getting a half-decent time. There was just the small matter of the hill at the end. A sharp right onto the Millennium Bridge then keeping to the right to take the shortest line possible – over the summit to hear Alister’s commanding voice encouraging me to shift it downhill to the finish. A cheeky little chicane through the gates and bollards and then a few yards sprint to the line with some convenient railings to hang on to while I waited for the world to stop spinning.

I was pretty pleased to finish 1 second the wrong side of 23 minutes given that my last parkrun a few weeks ago had been nearer 26 minutes. A flat fast and furious race. Everyone needs to do one of those every now and then, even if it does cost £4.84 a mile.

Helen, Alister, Rich, Dougie, Rebecca, Simon, Hugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew ...


Pos Name Club Cat Catpos Time
1 Ian Hudspith Morpeth Harriers V40 1 00:15:03
22 Heather Sellars Abbey Runners Female 1 00:16:57
50 Simon Gardner V40 6 00:18:13
101 Alister Robson V40 16 00:20:45
116 Richard Hall Male 59 00:21:33
129 Dougie Nisbet V50 11 00:23:01
135 Helen Todd* Female 20 00:23:26
165 Rebecca Fisher Female 32 00:26:31

179 finishers
*No club. But if she were to be in a club …

(Visited 48 times, 1 visits today)

Summer Cross Country Relays, Durham Racecourse, Monday, August 18, 2014

Simon Gardner

After the success of last year’s relay I once again volunteered to organise the teams for the event which is put on by Durham City Harriers. Last year we had 24 runners (8 teams) but this year the demand was even bigger and we had an excellent turnout of 33 runners which made up 11 teams.

Imagine holding crisps between your thumb and forefinger, and look slightly ahead and down ... -- Allan Seheult
photo courtesy and © Barry Cornelius

We only had one team in the senior category and that was also our fastest team consisting of Gareth Pritchard, Rob Everson and Stephen Jackson and they did not let us down finishing in 11th place which is fantastic considering the really high standard of the senior runners running on the night. Rob was also the fastest strider of the night coming home in 10:37 for 2 mile which is very impressive and shows the fantastic progress he has made over the last year.

While no-one let us down the weather most certainly did. It started to pour down around 6:30 and didn’t let up for a good 30 minutes, so by the time the Vets race started we had 30 wet ,cold but determined striders ready to go.

The rain thankfully had stopped by the time all our first leg runners assembled on the start line in the Vet race.

Just picking out a few striders for special mention, Matthew Crow continues to improve massively and managed an excellent 11:38 for the 2 mile circuit and looks in great shape for coming XC season, thanks also to Penny Browell and Clare Galloway for stepping in late in the day and giving it their all.

Finally many thanks to everyone came down to run and support.

(Visited 26 times, 1 visits today)

Beeston parkrun, Saturday, June 21, 2014

Simon Gardner

Following on from my trip down to London was another journey down to my sisters which is about 30minutes from Nottingham so after doing forest rec and colwick parkruns it was an ideal chance to head over to Beeston which just outside of Nottingham.

Beeston parkrun has not being going long , I think this was week 12 and after a 40 minute drive I soon arrived on a very warm morning.

The course is set in between the river Trent and the beeston canal and after parking just over the opposite side of the canal it’s just a short walk to the start area. The course is basically a rectangle of approximately 2 mile in length. The vast majority of the course is on gravel type paths and pretty much flat.

A 7 mile run on a very hot Friday afternoon and a few too many beers on the evening did not leave me in the best shape come Saturday morning so after the first mile I was finding it very hard work. Once you have completed one full lap you once again head through the finish but eventually head down onto the canal path before coming back onto the main path heading back towards the finish where I crossed the line in 10th somewhat hot and tired.

It’s another excellent course and the core team did an excellent job. One final note I got talking to someone who had been planning to study at Durham uni and really wanted to join striders as she loved the colour of our kit! , shame she is heading to Birmingham instead (should have studied harder

(Visited 26 times, 1 visits today)

Clapham Common 10k, Sunday, June 15, 2014

Simon Gardner

After my tired run around Pymmes parkrun I have to say I wasn’t looking forward to the 10K I had entered on the Sunday but hey when in Rome as they say!

Like the previous days parkrun this was a 3 lap course but this time set in Clapham common. When I got there (yep early again) the whole area was covered with cyclists all getting ready for the London to Brighton bike ride, now I’m not a cyclist (and probably never will be) but it was a fantastic sight to see thousands of cyclists all heading down to the start line.

After picking my chip and number I did a slow jog to get warmed up and eventually picked my spot near the start line.

I found the start very hard work , my original plan was to get around in about 40 minutes but when I looked at the garmin after it’s one mile bleep it showed 6:45minute for the first Mile which was already 20 seconds down and mile 2 was exactly the same . This was hard work even though the course was again 3 laps and flat. I did think about dropping out at this point but thought don’t be so ridiculous just get on with it. At the start of the 2nd lap I started to feel better so decided to increase the pace and try and pick off as many runners as I could and not worry about the time.

This plan worked better than I thought as I managed to make up the time lost at the start and eventually crossed the line in 39:58 which not exactly flying was a lot better than I thought it would be (I have to learn to stop being so harsh on myself)

The race was organised by and was really well organised and I must give a shout out to the Marshall’s who were excellent throughout the race.

(Visited 31 times, 1 visits today)

Pymmes parkrun, Saturday, June 14, 2014

Simon Gardner

A trip to London to watch England v Sri Lanka at lords but as normal I thought this would be a good chance to do a bit of parkrun tourism.

I had previously done Bushy parkrun and also Finsbury park and with bushy being the biggest I thought it might be nice to do the smallest in London which is Pymmes (ok I’ll admit I was also chasing a first finisher spot). So it was a nice early start for the tube to seven sisters then a train to silver street station which is just across the road from Pymmes park.

As normal for me I was there ridiculously early (I hate being late for anything) but I had taken it to a new level as it wasn’t even 8am so it was time to do a couple of laps of the course which was exactly as it was described in parkrun website ,flat and Tarmac so it’s a potential PB fast course (3 laps)

Eventually the volunteer team turned up and I had a quick chat with them about the course and parkrun in general. The run is fairly well known for having a very small turn out and today was no exception with a grand total of 20 keen runners.

We were soon on our way and it was fairly clear that my chance of being first finisher was not going to happen as someone sped off quickly but I just decided to maintain the distance to him and give myself a good workout. I’m not sure what it is about London but I never seem to run well here ,my worst half marathon and marathon were all in London and today was a bit of a slog but I managed 2nd place just getting under 19min.

I’m not sure why pymmes has so few runners , IMHO it’s a much better course than bushy or finsbury park but even though it has very few runners the core team are very passionate about their parkrun and the community it’s set in and it fits beautifully into the whole parkrun ethos.

(Visited 29 times, 1 visits today)