Striders Answer the Call!
No I don’t mean the one on Lucy’s i-phone but the ‘call to arms’ – the one for the blood, sweat, tears and hard graft needed, not only to finish at the sharp end, but simply to get round these tough, merciless courses. Well done to you all, Mudpeople are proud of you!
There was no Sally this time, because of sore shins, so the senior / veteran women were first up. With the bus taking a scenic route to Wallington it was touch and go whether a large proportion of the team would arrive for the start – but arrive they did and a brave and determined effort ensued. A varied course provided many challenges – perhaps not so many as last week – but challenging nonetheless. Mudwoman became the leading Strider towards the end of the first lap and stayed there till the end. Missing medium pack qualification by the narrowest of margins her vast experience, including thirty years of ‘hill training’ in the Scottish Highlands, took her to a 30th place finish. “Not bad for an old woman” was the limit of her self-congratulation!
Sarah Davies had one of her finest x/c runs on the gloomy overcast day to finish second counter, while Fiona K-J and Camilla showed true fighting spirit to finish as third and fourth counters respectively. This busy time of year plus one or two ‘bugs’ meant the women’s team was down somewhat on last week’s record turnout. Nonetheless it was heart warming to see the effort put in by our ‘girls’. To see Nina back competing after a couple of years away from the tent was wonderful (I’m sure you’ll catch your Mum before season’s end!) and I was truly humbled by the effort and determination displayed by Helen Williams and all those Striderettes who stayed the course through the mud, up the hills and over the bumps to cross the finish line. Well done! 7th team on the day and 5th place for the season maintained.
I suspect my ‘home truths’ may have received a mixed reception across the club this week. Mudwoman thought I’d overstepped the mark but, rightly or wrongly, I wanted the team to know how I felt. Whether it made any difference I don’t know but the Men’s team put in a performance that had bags of character. From Rob’s powerful run from the medium pack to lead the team home, to Stan’s brave debut in getting round three tough laps and cross the finish line in gathering gloom to the cheers of the Striders ‘massed bands’ including Kelly on megaphone! I couldn’t have asked for any more.
The team suffered in terms of numbers from the ‘two in two weeks’ factor, but the counters (Rob, Gareth, Matt C, Jerry, James and Dave) all finished in the top 200 (more or less!) and were closely supported by a determined team one or two of whom had risen from sick beds to run! Ian Spencer was there for the first time I think – or the first time for some time anyway. Well done Ian for getting round! We all know the Harrier League attracts the tops runners in the North East and finishing ahead of some the bigger, highly competitive clubs is not easy. However, the men have clawed their way out of the relegation zone with an 8th place finish on the day and we now sit in 8th place for the season as well. There are still tough trials to come!
…and Stan White
Following in the running steps of many a strider before me, I finally made my cross country debut. I’d been mulling over having a bash at one of these for quite sometime ………say 6 or 7 years. Geoff, aka Mudman, had asked me to run one all those years ago when the men’s team were struggling to field a team of 6 counters for a fixture in Cramlington and likely to incur penalty points. I agreed to be a last minute stand- in. However, at the eleventh hour, a couple of diehards stepped up and I was able to stand down. Slow forward to 2014 and this past Saturday I found myself on the coach to Wallington, fully intending to toe the start line however ill-prepared I was.
At the club AGM in October Geoff’s report had mentioned the sharp end and the blunt end of the cross country field. Riding on the bus up to Northumberland, I felt quite relaxed. I was under no illusions that, despite being a parkrun veteran with some 140 runs under my belt, the XC would be way, way, way out of my comfort zone, especially after my close up view of the previous weekends events at Aykley Heads whilst marshalling at ‘the chair’. I would surely be looking at the blunt end!
I had a plan: it was a 3 lap course … Lap 1, have look at the course;, Lap 2, try to stay in touch with the race;, Lap 3,…… SURVIVE. I’d told Ian Spencer on the bus up that I would be happy with getting round in 70 to 75 minutes. The ladies race was off very soon after our arrival at the course and it was a wonderful distraction as I watched and cheered some strong and gutsy performances. I did a few stretches and warm up jogs and, to be frank, I didn’t feel too good ……Nerves? I was a little concerned as I had passed out only a few days previously on a club run. Soon enough, I was at the start with some 500+ others and, once again, I felt pretty relaxed…..I could always drop out after a lap or 2 if my decision to start had been wrong. BANG! and the race was off: I was pleasantly surprised that I was running comfortably through the first kilometre and the rest were not disappearing into the distance…..so far so good.
After about 2k, some of the speedy chaps from the medium/fast packs started to float effortlessly (or so it seemed) past……I’d expected this so did not let it worry me: I was happy at this point with my own pace which was around 6.30 per K following in the running steps of those ahead. The first circuit was completed in about 22.30 and I felt ok.
Lap 2…..the going got a bit tougher for me as my legs began to tire rather suddenly, the underfoot conditions seemed to become more tacky, and I was having difficulty getting my feet out of the ground and selecting the best line……mentally it became tougher too as I was being passed by clumps of men in bunches who appeared to have boundless energy……and they were on their final circuit. I’d told myself beforehand that a fair few would do this but I hadn’t expected them to be breezing past and looking so strong…..DAMN….. Emerging from the woods on lap 2, I was getting great support from fellow striders lining the course…….. However, as I approached the hill up to the finish line (for them) and they split off into the finish funnel, I have to say that I considered quitting. At this point, I was passed by Graeme Walton, as he was finishing his race, and, as he offered a shout of encouragement, I spotted my sister and a couple of other supporters on the brow of the hill, with this all thoughts of stopping evaporated…… my watch was showing around 47 mins and, still under 7 min per k, I was still on target.
Lap 3 commenced in good spirits but, after about a further kilometre, my legs really started to complain with my left distal quadriceps hurting considerably and my shoes becoming heavy with mud. I had to begin interspersing walking with running to ease the discomfort in the quads and attempt to clean some mud off my shoes. This was the story for the rest of the race as a few of the other tail-enders eventually caught and passed me. Once off the fields and onto the path through the woods, I managed to run at a pace which felt quite brisk for a while but I just could not keep it up and I was making no impression on those ahead of me. Now, severe pain started quite suddenly in my lower right quads…….I was hobbling now but knew I would get to the finish. I was reduced to a walking pace and hoped that this would allow the quad pain to ease so that I could at least run jog up the final hill.
In the fading light, I approached that final hill where a whole hoard of striders were gathered to shout me on (I follow in the footsteps of many others in thanking them for such fabulous support). I found the energy to high five Kelly on the megaphone as I passed but now, fearful of creating a long term injury, I could not muster that final run up the hill…… and was accompanied to the finish line by Susan: the final lap had indeed gone according to plan SURVIVAL. A finish time of 76 mins and 15 seconds only a little outside of what I had wanted and obviously a little disappointing but not so much as to prevent me having another go and hopefully I won’t be leaving it another 6 years!
|1||James Cripwell||Gateshead Harriers||S Sen||37:37|
|79||Rob Everson||M Sen||43:48|
|81||Gareth Pritchard||S Sen||43:50|
|152||Matthew Crow||S Sen||45:08|
|190||James Garland||S Sen||46:11|
|199||Jerry Lloyd||M Vet||46:23|
|202||Dave Halligan||S Vet||46:30|
|212||Graeme Walton||S Vet||46:45|
|238||Matthew Archer||S Sen||47:25|
|246||Geoff Davis||S Vet||47:39|
|255||Marc Jones||S Sen||47:56|
|273||Conrad White||S Vet||48:29|
|285||Scott Watson||S Vet||48:46|
|303||Michael Hughes||S Vet||49:28|
|331||David Lumsdon||S Vet||50:28|
|425||Eric Green||S Vet||53:47|
|481||Ian Spencer||S Vet||58:43|
|507||Stan White||S Vet||76:15|
|1||Maxine Czarnecka||Jarrow & Hebburn AC||S Sen||29:39|
|30||Susan Davis||S Vet||33:43|
|53||Sarah Davies||S Vet||34:31|
|68||Fiona Jones||S Vet||34:40|
|82||Camilla Lauren-Maatta||S Vet||34:55|
|96||Elaine Bisson||M Vet||35:11|
|118||Rachael Bullock||M Sen||35:42|
|131||Stephanie Piper||S Sen||36:00|
|143||Lucy Cowton||S Sen||36:24|
|151||Debra Goddard||S Vet||36:39|
|156||Helen Williams||S Vet||36:52|
|164||Jan Young||S Vet||37:07|
|192||Anita Clementson||S Vet||38:06|
|207||Nina Mason||S Vet||38:54|
|220||Joanne Porter||S Vet||40:03|
|242||Anja Fechtner||S Vet||41:48|
|243||Jacquie Robson||S Vet||41:54|
|251||Catherine Smith||S Vet||42:27|
|263||Diane Watson||S Vet||44:16|
|275||Denise Benvin||S Vet||46:15|
|281||Helen Allen||S Vet||48:37|
|286||Kerry Lister||S Vet||50:30|
|288||Claire Galloway||S Sen||53:21|