Tag Archives: Saltwell Harriers Fell Race

Saltwell Harriers Fell Race, Stanhope, Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. King/Queen of the Mountain Race - click flag for more information.

Penny Browell

After a tough day I was delighted that childcare and work allowed me to escape to try out this little fell race. There is nothing better to clear the mind than a run in our beautiful countryside and the fact that the race had been described as a “little brute of a race” made it sounds like a great challenge.

Penny running strongly at the Saltwell Harriers' Fell Race just prior to the 'fluid exchange' (see article)

Whilst some of our speedy club mates met in Newcastle for the 5 mile Bridge of the Tyne Race, a hardy group of 10 purple-vested adventurers met in a layby on a road near Stanhope to begin our Tuesday evening. As we waited for the start the wind was a touch chilly but the sun was out and after a somewhat scary briefing (“obey the rules or I will tell the FRA and you will never run a fell race again”) we were off.

The race soon warms you up as it starts with a steady climb first on track and then through the grass. Once we’d turned at the mast we ran directly into the sun which made it quite difficult to make out where your feet were going. There were plenty of boggy puddles to keep you on your toes and I was quite happy to learn from the runner in front where not to plant my feet. I have to say I felt absolutely great out there – the views were fabulous and seeing runners spreading out into the distance always gives me a buzz. My enjoyment was only slightly diminished when, whilst overtaking a DFR runner, who (I hope not realising I was there) deposited a full mouthful of spit across my face. Maybe he just couldn’t handle being ‘chicked’…

After crossing the road we continued the descent to the stream checkpoint. As ever I lost places on the descent. I was aware that at this point I was first Strider. I didn’t know where I was in the ladies’ ranking but I knew I didn’t want to drop back. So each time someone passed me I breathed a sigh of relief that it was neither a strider nor a woman! The descent becomes suddenly much steeper just before the stream and I had to resort to sliding down on my bum as running was never going to work. The bum tactic was fairly efficient and I was soon into the stream, slightly disappointed it was nothing like the wade through the Tees at Cronkley a couple of weeks ago but quite appreciative of the refreshing cold water. As I scrambled out I heard what I’d feared from the start – Graeme’s voice….it was going to be a repeat of Cronkley with him flying past me and me regretting taking the first hill too fast!

Penny finally overhauls a fast-finishing Graeme on the 'velvet path' climb to the finish of the Saltwell Harriers' Fell RaceI tried to push on but the next section along the contour of the hill was quite uncomfortable. I’d turned my ankle slightly on the descent and couldn’t get into a rhythm. Unsurprisingly Graeme passed me and when we had to negotiate a tricky little downhill section I thought I’d lost him. To make matters worse I could hear a woman breathing down my neck. Now I didn’t really mind Graeme beating me but since someone had mentioned I was second lady on the downhill, I did not want to lose my place. Next up was a fairly steep uphill section and I knew this was my chance to lose her. I put my foot on the gas and passed a couple of men so I knew there was space between us. This burst of speed brought Graeme back into sight. As I levelled with him I asked how far we had to go – he warned there was a steep uphill to finish but with my hill rep training in the bag (thanks Tom) I decided I’d be fine. So on I went. The final climb was painful but with the end in sight I pushed on and was delighted to cross the line and grab my much-needed bottle of water.

As many people have said before, this really is a cracking little race and I can’t think of a better way to spend a Summer’s evening. At just £5 it’s an absolute bargain (especially as they are generous with prizes!). Anyone who is tempted to try fell racing I really recommend this one next year. You won’t regret it!

Results

position bib name club cat time
1 65 Andy Blackett Durham Fell Runners M 42.48
29 84 Karen Robertson NFR F40 51:02
47 86 Penny Browell F V40 53.56
51 55 Graeme Walton M V40 54.21
53 16 Michael Bennett M V60 54.51
75 73 Shaun Roberts M V55 59.28
83 57 Katy Walton F Senior 62.38
88 87 Stephanie Piper F Senior 63.48
97 31 Jan Young F V60 65.36
108 62 Anita Clementson F V45 73.13
110 63 Diane Watson F V50 76.52
111 64 Jean Bradley F V55 78.02

113 finishers.

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Saltwell Harriers Fell Race, Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. King/Queen of the Mountain Race - click flag for more information. BS / 6m / 1000'

Rachael Bullock

I was really looking forward to this race for multiple reasons: 1) I love fell running; 2) It’s a GP race so there would be lots of friendly faces there (plus some added motivation!); 3) I had fond memories from last year after finishing 5th lady (although I put this down to the appalling weather which meant a poor turnout!); 4) It was a gloriously sunny evening and 5) I REALLY love fell running.

There was indeed a pretty decent Strider turnout, including the mean machine that is Katy Walton! Seeing as Katy had just run a pretty amazing PB at the Humber Bridge half marathon just 2 days beforehand, whilst I had had a relatively restful weekend, I was vaguely hopeful that I may be in with a rare chance of giving her a run for her money!

I felt reasonably comfortable as we set off up the hill – a long but quite gentle climb, and I managed to overtake quite a few people. Sadly, my legs weren’t feeling particularly rested at all, but despite that I felt like I was going ok and making good progress, so when it started to flatten out I tried to keep going strong. Soon we started a long and gentle descent, although the ground underfoot was pretty rough – gotta keep your wits about your footing at this race. With the lack of rain recently, I was expecting pretty dry underfoot conditions, but it wasn’t long before I was greeted by a rather large boggy puddle. And for some stupid reason (I guess I’m just a huge pansy) I dithered for a good few seconds trying to work out how to negotiate it! It was at this point that I heard Katy’s menacing voice behind me – I can’t remember what she said, but it sure struck the fear of death into me as I now knew she was right behind me and those seconds of dithering could cost me dear. This prompted me to just splash through the bog any which way, as I should have done in the first place, and surprise surprise, it did not kill me.

On I trotted, well aware that Katy was close behind and a little surprised she hadn’t overtaken me yet. But then I thought … I know her game plan … she is just gonna let me pace her comfortably round and then overtake me on the uphill finish at the end (I had failed miserably to keep up with her during the hill session she put on last week). The descent is long and after crossing the road it gradually gets steeper and steeper, and rougher and rougher, and also pretty damp in places. I fell over in some bog at one point and witnessed several others doing the same. All the time I was convinced Katy was just behind me but I never once looked back, because that rarely works for me, it just makes me nervous and I prefer just to focus on what I’m doing. Katy didn’t pass me on the descent but fellow Strider Scott did – we had passed each other a few times already and he was clearly tiring of this child’s play and looked pretty comfortable on the descent.

Soon I reached the stream, where we had to go into the stream to clip our numbers! It’s a VERY steep descent down to the stream, not everyone’s cup of tea (including mine!) but I loved the stream! So refreshing! I wished I could have stayed in there for longer! It was pretty deep – I had soggy knickers when I came out! I wouldn’t advise carrying any valuables in your pockets for this race! It wasn’t until I was clambering out the stream that I realised Katy was nowhere to be seen! Turns out the purple vest I could sense behind me was that of Graeme! I was quite relieved at this point but I didn’t want to relax too much as I figured I must have been doing quite well and it would be a shame to let things slip at this stage.

So I pushed on up the next hill (brisk walk rather than running at this point!) and onto higher ground again where we had to contour around the hillside – I remember hating this bit last year as again the ground is very uneven and you are running on a slant. This year I didn’t find it too bad but I had a steely determination about me by now! In addition, I was still stupidly furious at myself for dithering earlier on at the bog…I couldn’t stop thinking about how ashamed mudman and mudwoman would have been!! So I was feeling the need to punish myself! A short descent followed (in fact quite a horrible one for those of us who don’t like steep, loose ground!) before the final uphill push to the finish. A marshal at the bottom of the hill informed that I was 3rd, or maybe 4th lady … YAY, I thought! But then I realised there was another lady not too far behind me and so if I was going to retain my position I was going to have to run all the way up this hill with a fair amount of conviction! And with some words of encouragement from Graeme, that’s what I did. I gave it my all and finished comfortably ahead of her. Turns out I had been in 4th position – I would have loved a podium finish but at least I was one place up on last year! I was completely knackered at the end, I had found it a very tough run. I would say that most finishers looked suitably knackered after the uphill finish, but some great results from fellow Striders nonetheless.

This is a great race and very friendly and fun atmosphere. There is a good amount of marshalling and taping for a fell race, so although it’s not the easiest of courses (in my opinion anyway) it is still pretty beginner-friendly.

Alister adds:

Rachael neglects to mention that the Striders Ladies (Rachael, Katy & Camilla) were first ladies team 🙂

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Time
1 Will Horsley NFR M 43.16
15 Karen Robertson NFR FV45 51.17
19 Thomas Reeves MV45 51.48
36 Michael Bennett MV60 54.38
50 Rachael Bullock F 56.15
54 Graeme Walton MV40 56.41
58 John Metson MV60 57.23
67 Nigel Heppell MV60 59.19
68 Katy Walton F 59.50
69 David Selby MV40 59.57
84 Alister Robson MV40 63.33
88 Camilla Lauren-Maata FV45 63.41
120 Jan Young FV60 72.40
123 Anita Clementson FV40 74.25
128 Denise Benvin FV45 78.42

128 finishers.

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Saltwell Harriers Fell Race, near Stanhope, Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. King/Queen of the Mountain Race - click flag for more information. BS / 6M / 1000'

Mark Dunseith

Grand Prix Race. King/Queen of the Mountain Race.  I looked at the list of GP races on the club website and decided that this would be a good one for me to take part in. It would be well represented by people in purple and I really enjoyed my first outing in to fell racing (Broughton Wood Wobble earlier in the year) and it was a midweek race so I should be free to attend. As it was ‘enter on the night’ there was also no risk of entering then double booking myself. It was only when I got nearer to the race that I realised I had the Tynedale 10k on the next evening. I decided I would do both and just run this race rather than race it.

We arrived at the top of Crawleyside bank (a place that holds only memories of pain for me so far, as cycling up that is less than pleasant) and as we stepped out if the car I was nearly blown over by the wind. Leaving Durham it was a lovely summer’s night so this was not what I had in mind for a slow Tuesday evening run. Anyway, I signed up and moved to the start line with the other Striders where I told them my plans of taking it easy.

After announcements the race started and the first 1.6 miles up to the mast was very difficult. On the DOW run the previous night I contemplated stopping after a mile or so because I was knackered but I managed to keep going so when I felt the same again during this run I told myself to keep going till we crossed the road and we’ll see how we go then.

Up round the mast and there was a long downhill section. Running down the ‘path’ I nearly lost my footing quite a few times and again started worrying about my previous ankle injury and whether a fell run was such a good idea. One runner fell just in front of us but she told everyone who stopped to help to keep going. Danny Lim was right behind me as we reached the bottom of the hill and spotted the road. As Danny overtook me he ran straight into a muddy bog. Knee deep in mud and with me less than a second behind we ended up side by side stuck in mud.

I ran on expecting Danny to retake me but I had my sights set on Alister and Rachel in the distance (I later found out that the reason Danny didn’t overtake me again was that he was trying to retrieve his shoe from the knee deep mud). In my head I did a split time for Alister and Rachel, 45 seconds. I lost sight of them and not until we were heading down to the river did I see them again, 25 seconds. When I got to the top of the bank Rachel was nowhere to be seen but Alister was just ahead of me. I put my fell running descent technique (I had previously Googled this after being overtaken by a sloth during my first fell race) into action and took Alister on the descent (most of which I spent on my backside due to being a bit too eager). I clipped my number and took off after Rachel who I could see in the distance.

The next half mile or so was terrible for running – trying to run straight on a very sloping bank so lots of pressure being put on one hip. I overtook Rachel before I got to the last climb to the finish line. I looked at my Garmin which said 5.2+ miles gone in around 50 minutes. Only 0.3 miles to go so I should break an hour, or so I thought. Cue the hill that never ends. I had nothing left to give so slowly started walking up the hill and waiting for Striders to start overtaking me again. Rachel was first and I tried a feeble attempt to cheer her on. I rounded a corner and I could see the finish line and after another check of the watch I started running with an hour still the target and to stay ahead of any Striders behind me. Up the hill and over the line in ……… 1 hour and 30 seconds. Never mind, there is always next year.

This was a good race despite not really feeling it at the start and the fact that Saltwell Harriers said it was ‘the worst weather we’ve ever had for the race’. Lets hope its blue sky and sunshine next year.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Time
1 Andy Blackett DFR M 41.58
17 Thomas Reeves MV45 48.49
24 Karen Robertson NFR FV40 50.22
25 Geoff Davis MV55 51.12
30 Michael Bennett MV55 52.52
42 Shaun Roberts MV55 55.04
45 Aaron Gourley M 55.18
66 Rachael Bullock F 59.54
71 Mark Dunseith M 60.25
73 David Selby MV40 60.31
78 Susan Davis FV50 61.43
80 Alister Robson MV40 63.25
82 Phil Owen MV45 64.05
84 Danny Lim M 65.01
86 Katy Walton F 66.14
97 Anita Clementon FV40 78.42

98 finishers.

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Saltwell Harriers Fell Race, nr Stanhope, Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. King/Queen of the Mountain Race - click flag for more information. BS / 5.5m / 1000'

Dave Selby and Camilla Laurén-Määttä

Dave Selby…

Striders group at SaltwellRunning Striders: Shaun, Alister, Geoff, Dave, Susan, Jan, John, Mike, Phil, Nigel, Colin, Camilla (first fell race), Dougie, Will, Maggie, Stephen, Me (Wavey Davey), and Mike’s daughter, Rosa (first race, ever).

Weather: Perfect for running; broken skies (shock, horror, some blue could be seen), low cloud, cool, lazy breeze, no bugs and no rain.

Dave approaches the finishGetting ready (putting my white socks on) just below the start line at the top of Crawleyside Bank I immediately felt embarrassed and somewhat intimidated. The abundance of athletic, high endurance muscles was high, and the sense of an over presence of folks that had clearly fell raced since their time in the womb. And then there was me.

After a wee delay, 117 runners gathered at the start line for a briefing. As per usual the planned route had changed. In brief, it was DIY up hill where we ran over shale (yes, there will be geology in this report. This rock is a potential source of oil and gas) to the furthest radiomast (~0.75m). Anticlockwise around the mask we followed the fence line (strict instructions to stay on the left of the fence. No idea why) for ~1m. This took you across some rather interesting uneven heather covered moorland, bog with a hint of quagmire, and peaty earth, and over sandstone (a rock that is a potential reservoir of oil and gas). The route then continued across the road (B6278) and then headed south on almost level but wet ground for about 0.5m. A hairpin turn started you off on a blessed 1m decline that terminated at the stream. Then into the stream (which was strangely quite refreshing) to punch your number, before following the streams path, firstly contouring slightly up hill and then abruptly down to the start of the finale of the route – the hill of terror – a hill of varying gradients all the way to the finish line. Six miles of bog, peat, heather, stream, oh and hill loving fun complete. Great fun was had by all, especially by me. It was then off to the Moorcock Inn for the presentation, refreshment, a bit of grub, and prizes.

Question: What is the secret to making bog coloured socks white?

…and Camilla Lauren-Määttä

Having done a few 10k, half-marathon and cross country races I needed a new challenge and a shorter fell race seemed like a suitable one that didn’t involve a lot of extra training. I was told that Stanhope fell race is a good and fun introduction to fell running so it seemed like a good taster race. To be on the safe side I packed down my (dog)whistle, map and compass and headed to Maiden Castle to meet up with Dave Shipman and Will Horsley, just to discover that Dave was dressed in a smart suit, so apparently I had missed something about the dress code (it later turned out that he didn’t actually run in his suit). Will kindly gave us a speedy lift in his 4×4 (I think there must be a correlation between how fast people drive on narrow roads and their fell-running pace) whilst explaining the course, which apparently involved wading through bogs and streams in waist-high water. He conveniently parked his car right on the start line, which I guess is one of the main reasons to owning a 4×4.

There was a good turnout of Striders (Shaun, Geoff, Dave, Susan, Jan, John, Mike, Phil, Nigel, Colin, Dougie, Will, Maggie, Stephen, Alister, Dave Selby, Mike’s daughter Rosa and myself). Most racers looked liked very seasoned fell runners, but when the organisers asked for runners who hadn’t done the race before a fair few raised their hands. We got a detailed explanation about how to stay on the right side of the fence and not crossing streams so that we wouldn’t get lost. Apparently, anybody less than 5 feet tall was also in danger of being washed away by the stream. This seemed suitably adventurous compared to Blaydon or the Great North Run, where the most likely fatality is being hit by a car.

Camilla approaches the finishThe route started by a reasonably comfortable ascent along a gravel trail, but soon we were trampling on boggy ground and dense heather moorland near the radio mast. Dave’s regular training on Waldridge fell was apparently good preparation for this and he merrily bounced off disappearing into the distance. There were also a few wide ditches to hop over before crossing the road. Next came the most enjoyable part of the race, with a gentle grassy down-hill slope and postcard views over moorlands and hills. Wading into the stream to punch the race number at the check-point was also rather fun (and even on me the water only reached up to mid-calf level). After this, there was some not too strenuous running along the stream. I spotted Dave’s purple vest in the distance and made sure I didn’t lose sight of him and the other runner in front of me, as I wasn’t too keen to get lost. We were getting closer to the finish and as Will had explained there was a very steep uphill gradient. I’d decided not to walk, but for a while it seemed that my walking was just as fast as my running so I resorted to some walking at the steepest section. However, being a slightly shorter and lighter runner I managed to overtake Dave in the hill. Eventually, I also managed a half-hearted sprint thanks to Alister and others cheering in all Striders by the finishing line.

I thoroughly enjoyed the race and would definitely recommend trying out a fell race. The atmosphere at the presentation in the Moorcock pub afterwards was very friendly and cheerful with some free food and prizes (real ale) for everybody, regardless of position.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Nick Swinburn NFR M 39.45
10 Will Horsley NFR M 45.56
24 Karen Robertson NFR FV40 49.35
29 Geoff Davis NFR MV55 50.75
33 Mike Bennett MV55 51.36
41 John Wandless MV40 53.04
56 Shaun Roberts MV55 57.05
62 Nigel Heppell MV55 57.34
69 Alister Robson MV40 58.33
78 Susan Davis NFR FV50 61.32
81 Dougie Nisbet DFR MV45 62.24
83 Dave Selby MV40 63.00
88 Stephen Garbutt MV40 64.10
95 Phil Owen MV45 65.17
96 Jan Young FV55 66.10
98 Colin Blackburn NFR MV50 66.53
100 Camilla Lauren-Maatta FV45 68.05
102 Dave Shipman MV55 68.47
108 Rosa Bennett F 77.00
113 Maggie Thompson FV60 88.01

113 finishers.

(Visited 7 times, 1 visits today)

Saltwell Harriers Fell Race, nr Stanhope, Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. King/Queen of the Mountain Race - click flag for more information. BS / 5.5m / 1000'

Colin Blackburn

Grand Prix Race. King/Queen of the Mountain Race.

The relatively dry spring made for yet another variation of this great little fell race in the North Pennines. Nominally a 5.5 mile race with 1000 feet of climb its actual distance is about 6.1 miles and the climb not much more than 830 feet. But as Keith Wood said to Andy Glass in an email, they still use a bit of string and a map to measure the course. That’s Gateshead folk for you. So, a bit longer, a bit less climb and not as boggy under foot as advertised. The one constant though is the dip in the stream.

Mike gets safely across the slippy stuff ... James, Tom and I arrived at the event with a good bit of time in hand, plenty of time to register change and chat to the other Striders out for the run: Mike B, Alister, Jan, Nina, Aaron and Anita. Not nearly as many Striders, or runners overall, as last year which was a shame for such a pleasant evening. Phil O was in attendance but he was sensibly resting his legs and dedicated himself to getting some photos as we approached the final climb. I think he was hoping to get a few people tumbling down the bank!

After the usual pre-race chat from Keith we were off. Tom and James disappeared into the distance while I yo-yoed with Alister and Nina on the climb to the mast. This year’s variation meant a fairly dry fence line run, that meant I could pick up a bit of speed and pass Alister, as well as a dozen other runners, but I couldn’t shake off Nina who seemed tucked in behind me for most of the track along the fence before finally passing me before the drop down to the road. The old wagonway was hard running under foot and it was a relief to drop down the fell on the softer grass. The burn was a little deeper than I expected – about waist deep on me, Tom must have needed Scuba gear! The soggy run along the stream bank is in some way a relief from the first part of the race but you always know that the final track climb is going to be hard so it is a useful rest. And it was hard but I got up there a couple of minutes faster than last year to be cheered over the line by James, Tom, Mike and Nina. We hung around to cheer in Alister, Aaron and Jan before heading off to the Moorhen for the prize giving.

James suggests that perhaps Phil is a bit close to the action. As usual the pub had put on a good spread of food and they had a decent beer on too. Eventually Keith rose to his feet to give the pronouncements. As ever the first prizes went to the women. Karen Robertson (NFR) won the women’s race but Keith wasn’t going to present the prize without mentioning an incident out on the course. As Keith was approaching the burn Karen was close behind. Keith claimed Karen pushed him in the river, he also claimed he had witnesses. Suddenly no-one present remembered seeing anything! Tom says that Keith did quite a good dive. Nina was fourth woman and with Jan and Anita we should have had the women’s team prize but for some reason we didn’t. For the men, James was, I think, in the top 20. The rest of us will have to wait for the Saltwell Harriers results processing system.

Once again this was a cracking race with some great craic in the pub. It exemplifies what is great about a lot of fell races: just park at the road side, pay very little (£4), have a great run in beautiful countryside and then get some free food and loads of prizes. My bottle of beer for a middling finish was very enjoyable. I’ll be back.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Drew Graham Gosforth M 41:02
15 James Garland M 48:12
17 Tom Reeves MV45 48:52
20 Karen Robertson NFR FV40 49:48
32 Michael Bennett MV55 53:47
44 Nina Mason F 56:11
57 Colin Blackburn NFR MV45 58:50
61 Alister Robson M 1:00:24
63 Aaron Gourley M 1:01:15
71 Jan Young FV55 1:04:52
81 Anita Clementson FV40 1:31:44

82 finishers.

(Visited 4 times, 1 visits today)

Saltwell Harriers Fell Race, nr Stanhope, Tuesday, July 6, 2010

BS / 5.5m / 1000'

Shaun Roberts

Another great evening out, thanks to Saltwell Harriers. The results have finally come out and are extracted for your perusal below. It seems a bit late now to be doing a report on this, but suffice it to say that the large number of Striders who came out to have a go at this one all seemed to enjoy it – especially if you waited until a while after the finish to ask them. The presentations in the pub afterwards were very entertaining, as usual, with over sixty prizes being given out. How they put this race on for £4 a head is beyond me…

See also the link below for Phil’s very personal account of this race on his blog.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Nick Swinburn NFR S 40.10
2 Will Horsley NFR S 41.37
17 Paul Evans S 47.33
27 Karen Robertson NFR LV40 48.59
40 Geoff Davis NFR V50 51.28
48 Michael Bennett V50 53.36
57 Shaun Roberts V50 55.07
59 Graham Arrowsmith V45 55.45
61 Nina Mason LV35 56.20
66 Nigel Heppell V50 57.31
74 Phil Owen V40 58.34
80 Colin Blackburn NFR V45 60.43
90 Susan Davis NFR LV50 63.51
103 Anna Seeley DFR L 66.36
106 Alister Robson S 66.51
107 Zoe Evans L 67.16
108 James Ives V40 67.48
110 Denise Mason L 68.02
111 Dave Robson V55 68.03
112 Jean Gillespie LV50 68.21
124 George Nicholson V60 74.46
125 Karen Chalkey LV50 74.46
129 Andrew Glass S 80.26
131 Margaret Thompson LV60 84.33

132 finishers.

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Saltwell Harriers Fell Race, nr Stanhope, Tuesday, July 7, 2009

BS / 5.5m / 1000'

First, Denise Mason…

I really wasn’t sure what to expect from my first fell race. I’ve never been good at running off-road (or uphill for that matter) but I figured I shouldn’t knock it until I’ve tried it! I almost backed out completely when Dave sent me the photos of the previous year’s race and I saw everyone in the middle of what looked like a river, waist high in water! I arrived with Phil, abandoning his car where it got stuck in the mud, and met up with a few other striders. We had just enough time to register and listen to the course safety advice.

Dave kindly agreed to stick with me so we set off up a bumpy track and let the majority of the runners overtake us. We were walking within minutes as the first hill was fairly steep and the ground too difficult to run on. Once up the hill the ground leveled out in to a deep mushy bog which we part run/part waded through. We lost sight of the other runners after a couple of miles and at times it was so quiet out there you could have heard a pin drop had it not have been for my occasional scream everytime my leg disappeared in to the ground! Oddly enough, once we had both lost our balance and got ourselves completely filthy, the race became more enjoyable and I stopped caring about my wet feet.

The highlight for me was being told by the race marshal to get on my arse and just slide down the ridiculously steep, and somewhat dangerous, rocky hill leading down towards the river! I felt like a 5 year old again, brilliant fun! We then jumped in to the stream and reached the checkpoint to tag our numbers before clambering back out and continuing on the course. I teetered along on the edge of a steep bank, most of which was sliding in to the stream, and eventually reached the final climb back up to the car.

Towards the end my calves were really starting to ache so I must have been using muscles I’m not used to using! We finished, somewhere near last, muddy and tired but smiling.

We retired to the pub along the road, re-fuelled with a very welcome vodka-coke, and received our prizes (more alcohol).

I’d recommend anyone who hasn’t tried fell running to give it a go, but be prepared to get very wet and dirty!

Many thanks to Dave and Phil, and also Jan who gave me my new-but-now-very-smelly trail shoes!

Then, Alister Robson…

My first ever fell race and I had no idea really what to expect. Got a lift with Dougie, Deb, Tom and Colin and I must admit some of their stories made me somewhat apprehensive. We arrived in plenty of time and it was actually quite chilly up there which I was glad of.

The first stretch was a climb up to the radio mast and quickly I realised that this was going to be very different, the heather was packed quite tight and it was difficult to place both feet flat (well uphill but you know what I mean), after a while this levelled off and the last bit of the run up to the top was not much different to running around Durham! Once we turned round the mast it was back on a long run down hill, here the problem was both the heather trying to trip you up and the bog trying to suck you in. It was here at about 2 miles, that the heather won. I picked myself up and dusted myself off and carried on until eventually there was what seemed like a swamp before the road.

Through that and the next section was a flat narrow track where I struggled to keep my balance. Next downhill, this time very steeply all the way down to the stream, where everyone in front disappeared! When I got to the edge I realised why, it literally drops off and the only way I could get down was on my backside. As for the checkpoint in the middle of the stream it was nowhere near as bad as it had grown in my imagination from listening to the other’s tales and given the amount of rain we’d had in the week previously. The stream was relatively warm and the tags were in fairly easy reach.

Next was a section back along the river which involved a little bit of rock climbing and another patch where travelling by bum was the only option. Lastly we turned again for home and back upto the raod and the finish. I admit it, I hold my hands up, I had to walk for a while and wasn’t sure I had much left – I can assure you I wasn’t the only one! Once the end was in view I managed another spurt and even managed to overtake a couple of people and finished, muddy bloody and bedraggled, but no longer a fell virgin!

Did I enjoy it? Yes, I really did. Will I be doing another one, well not this week. The prize giving and supper at the Moorcock was excellent if packed and the beer went down really well. Everyone even got a prize!

Jan Young adds…

Seventy four runners had a go at this fell race, running up to the mast above Stanhope, following narrow tracks in heather, leaping peaty pools, along cycle track, exilarating descent down fell to self clip in the middle of the beck; no chance of dry feet, return following stream and uphill finish. Good to see purple vests. I especially enjoyed the fellside descents. It just helps to reinforce why I love the hills. Good views too. Missed the pub afterwards, but I’m sure there’ll be an account of that!

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Abdelnoor Ben Ambelside AC M 40.00
7 Horsley Will NFR M 47.51
21 Reeves Thomas MV40 52.20
22 Lister Sarah Blackhill Bounders F 52.52
23 Davis Geoff NFR MV50 53.17
38 Blackburn Colin NFR MV45 57.09
44 Heppell Nigel MV55 58.11
50 Owen Phil MV40 60.22
52 Nisbet Dougie MV45 60.50
54 Robson Alister M 62.46
56 Goddard Debra F 63.26
57 Davis Susan NFR FV45 63.51
60 Young Jan FV50 67.01
73 Mason Denise F 80.28
74 Robson Dave MV55 80.29

76 finishers.

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Saltwell Harriers Fell Race, nr Stanhope, Tuesday, July 1, 2008

BS / 9km / 300m

I missed the Saltwell Harriers Race this year but it looked like a fair dip in the burn for some! If anyone who ran or swam would like to submit a report then please do send something to me.

The results below have been slightly corrected by me. In the official results Debs seems to have been overlooked as a woman and Mike ran with the surname Elvert.

Rob and Pat of NFR have once again taken some excellent photos of the event, see the links below.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Nick Swinburn NFR S 40.04
2 Will Horsley NFR S 42.41
16 Rachel Vincent Tynedale L 1 48.37
17 Geoff Davis NFR V50 48.45
22 Mike Bennett V50 50.17
43 John Metson NFR V55 56.57
52 Mandy Dawson NFR L 4 57.53
53 Nigel Heppell V50 58.16
62 Emma Bain NFR L 6 60.33
63 Phil Owen V40 60.59
64 Susan Davies NFR L 7 61.32
67 Debra Goddard L 8 62.16
68 Eric Whittaker Blackhill Bounders V65 63.26
71 Dave Robson V55 65.18
78 Louise Billcliffe NFR L 10 69.36

82 finishers.

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Saltwell Harriers Fell Race, nr Stanhope, Tuesday, July 3, 2007

BS / 9km / 300m

Seven striders, Will, Geoff D, Susan D, Shaun, Nigel H, Mike B and me, were part of the 77 runners in this year’s Saltwell Harriers fell race, though four of them ran in their NFR vests. Despite heavy rain during the day in Durham the North Pennines had been spared the worst of it (for once) and on the night of the race we were blessed with clear weather. Mind you the course was still a little wet under foot.

The organiser-cum-stand-up comic Keith Wood did his best to put people off at the start as he described the route for the newcomers. The start was a long slow climb to the mast which soon saw the field strung out. This was followed by a mile long trudge along the moorland. With the recent wet weather it was best to avoid stepping in even shallow puddles lest they turn out to be three-foot deep peat bogs, as Nigel Heppell discovered. Then it was back down to the road and along the old wagonway, a goodish footpath for a change. The final descent culminated in a dip into the stream. This sadistic element soon clears the peat out of your shorts, Nigel. This year the water was only waist deep for me though Susan Davis found it a little deeper!. There’s then a pleasant (compared to the rest of the race) run along the river bank before a testing uphill track finish.

Once everyone was back it was off to the Moorcock Pub for the presentation. This is the highlight of the race as Keith Wood does his best to hand out the prizes, insult the comeptitors and deal with hecklers. He does it very well. I vaguely remember Will finishing 3rd, then Geoff, Mike, me, Nigel, Shaun and Susan. We all got a prize this year though I am still bitter about getting only one can while Nigel got two!

Photos at the links below, though Shaun seems to have avoided having his picture taken. Rob Stephen’s (NFR) photos were taken while he was running the race, this has produced some interesting shots. There’s also a link to a route map of the race produced by Rob.

Results

Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Jim Davies Borrowdale MV40 41.23
3 Will Horsley NFR M 44.49
15 Rachel Vincent Tynedale L 1 47.42
24 Michael Bennett MV50 50.16
30 Geoff Davis NFR MV50 51.52
46 Colin Blackburn NFR MV45 55.17
49 Nigel Hepple MV50 56.11
52 Shaun Roberts MV50 57.02
64 Susan Davis NFR LV45 62.08

77 finishers

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