Sweat. Yes, it was hot! As we waited for the start, we were all drinking water, looking for shade and paying frequent visits to the ‘female urinals’ (a bizarre experience!) Finally, our wave set off. After all the waiting and anticipation, it was great to be finally running my first marathon! Although my training had been derailed by a combination of injury, snow and work, I still hoped I might be able to finish in under 4 hours. The first miles seemed deceptively easy. The atmosphere was brilliant and there were plenty of distractions: crazily-dressed runners (Paddington costume – in that heat??), cheerful crowds, Greenwich, the Cutty Sark. It was already roasting, but there were lots of water-stations and showers, and I found I was able to maintain a reasonable pace.
Blood. About 10 miles in, with the temperature continuing to rise, I suddenly had a terrible nosebleed! What to do? This was definitely not in the Plan! I didn’t want to stop, so I carried on running slowly for a couple of miles with blood streaming from my nose onto my face, hands and legs. Not a pretty sight! It finally stopped, but by then I realised would have to abandon any hopes of a sub 4-hour time.
Tears. The second half was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. There were lots of highs: catching sight of my family by chance; spotting Striders Rachel and Michael Mason and Peter Hart in the crowds at around 18 miles; strangers shouting my name; the man running with the washing machine on his back… But there were plenty of lows too: by about mile 20 my legs were screaming at me to stop and I had to force myself to continue. By 24 miles, I knew the end was in sight. Despite the excruciating pain, I managed to pick up the pace and finish with a decent time of just over 4 hours.
I came away from my first marathon with mixed feelings. I’m really glad I did it and it was a thoroughly memorable experience, but I can’t say I’m in a hurry to do another one any time soon!
As a parkrun fanatic, I am always delighted when a new Parkrun starts up in the North East. Not only is it great to see the movement growing, but it also creates exciting new possibilities for Parkrun tourism. However, although I like to imagine myself heading off into the wilds of Northumberland or North Yorkshire to tackle a new course, rarely does this actually happen: it’s enough of a challenge to get our family to Maiden Castle by 9, let alone anywhere further afield. But this Saturday was different. Knowing that I had to drop my daughter off for a rowing race in Ashington at the unearthly hour of 7.45 am, I immediately checked the parkrun website and was happy to discover that a new run had started in nearby Newbiggin-by-the-Sea just a week before!
Daughter and her friends dropped off, I headed straight there. The course is, appropriately, by-the-sea. The start is on the beach, but almost immediately you join the long promenade which curves around the attractive Newbiggin bay. There are some interesting sculptures and stunning sea views along the way. At the end of the promenade, you climb a steep grassy hill (I had a flashback to cross-country!), run around a small park, then descend and return along the promenade. The second lap follows roughly the same route. The finish is at the historic Café Bertorelli, famous for its ice cream. Sadly, I didn’t have time to stop and sample it!
This is a scenic, varied, and reasonably challenging parkrun, especially if you happen to be running into the wind (I was surprised to be first female finisher – admittedly, the field was not huge!) I would highly recommend it to all Striders and their families. I’ll be back, and not only so I can try the ice-cream!
Encouraged by rave reviews of last year’s inaugural event, large numbers of Elvet Striders descended on Coxhoe for this year’s 10k trail run. Of the 125 or so participants at least 20 were Striders (there would doubtless have been more had it not been for a little half marathon which I am told is rapidly approaching.)
It was a beautiful sunny morning and after my month-long break from training I was looking forward to running at a relatively leisurely pace and enjoying the scenery. After a slightly congested start, things soon opened up. The course really is attractive with plenty of variety including some lovely wooded sections. It’s mainly on old railway lines and quarry paths – there are three roads to cross but, like the course as a whole, these crossing points are well marshalled. Towards the middle of the race, we had to tackle quite a long, steep climb up through a plantation. This was exhausting in the heat, and it was a relief to see a sign reading ‘halfway point’ not long afterwards. The second half of the course seemed to be more downhill than up until just before the finish, where we faced a final killer hill. I had been warned about this, and managed to drag myself up it, knowing that the end must be close.
As I approached the finish, someone called out that I was first lady. This came as a great surprise: I have never even come close to winning a race before and had deliberately not been pushing myself in this one! But an even greater surprise lay in store: the massive and exceptionally heavy trophy presented to me at the prize-giving! There were prizes all round for team Striders, with Stephen Jackson as third man and Richard Hockin and Shelagh Barton as first V60s. Some great performances from others too, including Ashley Price-Sabate in her first 10k. A huge thanks to everyone who made this run happen, especially to Neil Sleeman and to the Strider marshals who provided Haribos and encouragement. All in all, this was a very memorable morning. I’ve never won a cup before and probably never will again, so I’ll cherish this one as a reminder of all that is unexpected, funny and lovely about running.
As a relative newcomer to running, I haven’t done many races, but Raby 10K seemed a good one to try. It ticked all my boxes: scenic course, close to Durham, family-friendly and the right distance for me as I’m doing Allan’s pilot 10k training at the moment. Fine weather was promised, and this would give me my first opportunity to wear my Striders vest as a vest rather than an extra layer. Exciting!
The weather did not disappoint: it felt like the hottest day of the year so far as we trudged up to the start from the carpark. Not having run this before, I didn’t have a particular goal in mind and my ‘race plan’ was simply to get round the 2 laps in as fast a time as I could manage in the heat. However I received some good advice at the start (where Purple Power was much in evidence): don’t go off too fast – save yourself for the first hill about 1k in. I followed this advice and got to the top of the hill where the views were brilliant. Bumped into Alister on the way down and got some more good advice from him: don’t run this at your parkrun pace! I realised I was probably going too fast and tried to pace myself better.
The long downhill stretches were exhilarating, and after another short but steep hill we were onto the second lap. By this stage the heat was clearly getting to people, so the water was very welcome. There were also some nice breezes and shady sections which made the uphill bits more bearable. The last kilometre seemed to go on forever, and although I tried to accelerate at the end, I had no energy left. Crossed the line exhausted, and was rewarded with a banana and cake. Then it was time for the main event (as far as my family was concerned): the picnic! Other Striders clearly had the same idea and a Purple Picnic ensued. Food consumed, we did a quick tour of the lovely Raby gardens before heading home.
This race fulfilled all my expectations. The organisation of the 10k itself was excellent, and there was also a 5k race and a 1.2k fun run for under-12s – perfect for Strider children.