Tag Archives: Steph Piper

Sherman Cup & Davison Shield, Temple Park, Saturday, October 10, 2015

Steph Piper

The second cross country fixture of the season saw the day bright, warm and dry. Conditions were firm to soft with little mud, distinctly very un-XC like. Perhaps just as well the Mudpeople were seeking less stable conditions up Kirk Fell in Wasdale.

Striders, old and new.

Twenty Striderettes took to the start line, of which five were making their cross country debut. The scratch race nature of this fixture made for a scrappy start as 320 women jostled for position up the first incline. Elaine Bisson shot off in to the distance to become the first Strider home in 33rd place and first veteran counter. Fifty places back was Fiona Kinghorn-Jones, second Strider and veteran counter over the line, followed not far behind by Fiona Shenton who completed the trio to finish 10th in the Vet’s competition – congratulations ladies!

Steph leading the pack.

Hot on Fiona S’s heels was Catherine Elliott in a storming run at her second XC race, with Camilla Lauren-Määttä next. Steph Piper had them both in her sights for much of the race but was unable to catch them, finishing as first senior counter. Jan Young, Jenny Search and first-timer Sue Gardham were the next to finish, strung out across the field ahead of Kate MacPherson and Helen Thomas who battled it out to the end, only two seconds adrift of each other.

First-timer Sue Gardham.Fiona, with a little help from NormanA tightly-packed bunch of Striders ladies followed in their wake. There were strong performances from debutants Vics Jackson and Karen Metters, who led in a pack of nine Striders ladies within the next 50 places. Vics pipped a rival DCH at the line in a sprint finish, Karen outperformed several competitors along the back straight.

They were followed closely by: Clare Metcalfe as second senior counter; Diane Watson’s whose long days training in the hills made for a time 1:32 quicker than last year; first-timer Lucy Herkes’ Monday grass training clearly paid dividends to make her the third and final senior counter (well done to you both – 19th in the Senior’s competition!); Rebecca Devine’s storming sprint finish knocked back ten other competitors to finish two places above Helen Hall who also performed admirably in her XC debut. Jan Ellis and Jenny Cooper rounded up the team, both running well.

The glasses are off, this looks serious. Before long, the men were away. The field was huge, well over 400 streamed out along the course where we cheered them on from the top of the big hill. Rob Everson led the team of 18 Striders men and looked strong for the first two laps but unfortunately had to pull out due to a niggling injury. So it was that Simon Gardner became the first Strider home by a wide margin (120th place and first veteran counter). Matthew Archer, Jack Lee (first and second senior counters respectively) and Scott Watson (second vet counter) followed in quick succession after that. Jack in his second XC looking like the terrain suits him well with Simon, Matt and Scott all producing the admirable performances we know and love.

Next to follow was Dave Halligan as the final veteran counter, placing the men’s veteran’s team 20th overall – excellent! Andrew Rayner as the third senior counter was not far behind, the senior gents finishing 25th in the table – a job very well done indeed. Steve Lindsay and Shaun Roberts put in strong performances as the Striders men began to come in thick and fast. Malcolm Sygrove, in a long-awaited XC debut, heralded the arrival of a close group which included Richard Hockin, determined to the end; Richard Hall Sr; Ari Hodgson who put in a great finish; David Case in a spectacular sprint but was overhauled by a rival from Crook; ultra-man Dave Robson who managed to pull five places clear of Dougie Nisbet in the final lap; Steve Ellis still looking strong and not-last Gareth Cardus, paced in by Richard Hall on a cool-down lap of the field.

Well done to all who ran and many thanks to those who provided much-needed shouts of encouragement and, of course, cake. See you all on the battlefield next month at Aykley Heads.


position bib name cat pack race time
1 833 Lewis Timmins (Morpeth Harriers) MSen F 30:18
120 546 Simon Gardner MV45 S 36:44
182 528 Matthew Archer Msen S 38:29
198 513 Jack Lee Msen S 38:52
222 544 Scott Watson MV50 S 39:27
267 497 Dave Halligan MV50 S 40:44
283 488 Andrew Rayner Msen S 41:17
314 550 Steve Lindsay MV55 S 42:25
335 545 Shaun Roberts MV55 S 43:15
375 522 Malcolm Sygrove MV45 S 44:46
392 540 Richard Hockin MV60 S 45:35
403 539 Richard Hall MV55 S 46:13
407 491 Ari Hodgson MU20 S 46:23
427 500 David Case Msen S 48:00
435 498 Dave Robson MV60 S 48:51
441 506 Dougie Nisbet MV50 S 49:39
453 548 Stephen Ellis MV60 S 52:20
463 508 Gareth Cardus MV35 S 59:58

464 finishers.

position bib name cat pack race time
1 1113 Emily Stewart (Newcastle University) FSen F 21:36
33 378 Elaine Bisson FV35 M 26:24
83 380 Fiona Jones FV35 M 28:35
102 381 Fiona Shenton FV55 S 29:13
108 367 Catherine Elliott FV35 S 29:32
126 366 Camilla Lauren-Maatta FV50 S 30:01
135 436 Stephanie Piper Fsen S 30:14
165 390 Jan Young FV60 S 31:19
182 396 Jenny Search FV35 S 32:03
201 437 Sue Gardham FV40 S 32:43
222 406 Kate MacPherson FV40 S 33:27
223 386 Helen Thomas FV40 S 33:29
250 827 Victoria Jackson FV35 S 34:57
256 822 Karen Metters FV40 S 35:10
264 372 Clare Metcalfe Fsen S 35:51
268 377 Diane Watson FV50 S 35:57
276 420 Lucy Herkes Fsen S 36:23
280 430 Rebecca Devine Fsen S 36:52
283 385 Helen Hall FV45 S 36:57
294 389 Jan Ellis FV50 S 38:09
296 394 Jennifer Cooper FV35 S 38:18

320 finishers.

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Phil Johnson 5k, Barrow Haven, Lincolnshire, Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Steph Piper


Clan PiperThis was a one-off race by Barton and District Athletics Club in memory of Phil Johnson, a local athlete who sadly lost his battle with cancer this year. I was down visiting the family for a few days and had taken my running gear, expecting to go for a training run with my dad and his club, the Wold’s Veterans. Formal training wasn’t on due to the Bank Holiday and dad decided to save his legs for the race on Tuesday evening.

I hoped there might be EOD, but dad said Phil had been a popular chap, and the 100-capacity race had sold-out with a long reserve list. Still, as we headed out the door dad to race, and the Piper girls to spectate I grabbed my running gear on the off-chance there might be a number going spare. At the registration desk, as dad picked his number up, I asked if they might have had a no-show and I could transfer. Even better they had a single number spare! For £3 (profits to the Brain Tumour Society), I was in. As they say up here Shy bairns get nowt!

We lined up on the start and, with a very brief announcement and thanks, were off along the flat country roads of Barrow-upon-Humber. The course was a simple triangle out from the pub with a couple of sharp left turns and back again. A couple of gentle inclines between the second and third km markers allowed me to leave several Barrow AC girls behind (I overheard several of dad’s Wolds Vets team mates lamenting these ‘hills’ at the finish line! Ah, the flatlands!).

I kept a steady pace round the course and the final mile towards the finish felt long, but with the Humber Bridge on the horizon resplendent again the sunset, it felt good to reflect on all that running is, and does. A lovely run out, and a befitting memorial race.

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Harrier League, Saturday, February 28, 2015

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


Purple Pride!

Saturday’s penultimate HL fixture of the season at Alnwick saw a desperate fight for 2nd Division survival by Striders’ rejuvenated men’s team. A first place finish on the day means the men have clawed their way to 7th position (out of 11 teams) for the season but are still only two points clear of relegation. It’s going to be a hell of a battle at Wrekenton!

Kelly offers Gareth some gentle motivation

The course, in the shadow of Alnwick Castle, was amazingly dry and relatively mud free providing fast going for our speedy lads. Gareth Pritchard was determined to do his bit for the team and do it he did with a fantastic run to finish in 21st place as first Strider and gain promotion to the medium pack. Till’s long miles in training also paid off to earn him 2nd placed Strider plus medium pack promotion as well. We also saw perhaps the best Strider debut at a HL ever with Chris Wade also gaining promotion to the medium pack while running with a suspect knee although he has a good grounding in x/c from his Monday lunch-time training sessions with us Mudpeople! Rob Everson sped round from the medium pack to be fourth Strider home while Graeme Walton, with all those awful track miles under his belt, was fifth Strider and an ever improving Matt Crow completed the Strider counters.

Gareth was first bloke home in Elvet Striders' battle to retain their place in Division 2But that’s not the whole story! Those six lads were supported by another 16 Striders fighting to push the other clubs back and battling for every yard. There were some great runs particularly from Matt Archer – probably his best HL so far, Dr Evans (first time as a non counter) and a battle royal between the Fire Service and the Parachute Regiment (in the shape of Davey Lumsden and Scott Watson respectively) with the paras prevailing by the narrowest of margins. We also had a brave debut by Craig Walker and an equally brave run by Mike Bennett who has run more HLs than he probably cares to remember. Innes was there too, after nearly provoking world war three on facebook during the week, as was Richard H, John H and all the other Striders too numerous now to name individually! What a great performance – well done and thanks to you all – I am extremely proud!

Let’s not forget the women’s team though! Another bumper turnout of 20 of our slow packers, medium packers & fast packers produced a great performance in a fiercely competitive league. Our ‘Flying Archaeologist’ Steph Piper had a brilliant run on the fast course to come home as first Strider, followed by Elaine B storming round from the medium pack, Sarah D (another determined performance) and Penny – our airborne fast pack heroine (the Welsh rugby team may have a ‘Halfpenny’ but we’ve got something twice as good!) But of course they were supported by a huge turnout of Striderettes each of them committed to play their part and succeeding in doing so. We had medium packers such as Rachel, Katy & Mudwoman powering through fast packer Rachael flying round and other fantastic performances from Lesley, Kelly (loving it as usual), Kerry, Jo P, Denise (great concentration), Catherine, Camilla, Claire, Jen & Jan plus a very welcome return from Sue J & a wonderful debut from Steph Walker. Well done to you all – 6th on the day and now 5th for the season. With a super-human effort at Wrekenton you could all be standing on that podium yet!

Thanks also to the Striders who came along to support – Keith, Mike E, Anita C, Allan S, Jo R & Diane – such enthusiasm is most appreciated.

Cross country in the grounds of Alnwick Castle

…and Steph Piper

Steph on the way to leading the Striders' ladies homeThe nerves kicked in for today’s XC race earlier than usual. Sat waiting for the bus, my stomach turned over and over. The stakes felt high for today. The women’s team were in good contention for a podium finish at the penultimate race of the season, we’d had several new promotions to the medium pack (our very own captain Susan among them) and some of the stronger finishers were conspicuous by their absence.

At Alnwick, the tents were up and the banners flying high. The nerves had subsided but it was simply the calm before the storm. Innes had declared this day “Beat a Bounder” day. The men were fighting for survival to stay in Division Two – Blackhill one of their main rivals. The Bounders had retaliated swiftly by raising a call to arms. Our teams were heading in to a great battle.

The day was reminiscent of conditions at the beginning of the season – bright, warm with a brisk wind. The course was bone dry, perfectly suited to the alter-egos of our Mud Captains, Arid Man and Dustbowl Woman. Toes on the line and with very little warning we were off in to the wind, surging down the field towards the first pinch point. This first part of the course was quite flat. At the farthest point we rounded right and up the first of the steady inclines. From the road on other side of the wall, a disembodied voice roared a battle cry – “COME ON STRIDERS!!!” Spurred on, and with Sarah Davies in my sights, I continued upwards to the woods.

Once under the tree cover we were sheltered from the wind. There were deep ruts through the mud and most kept to the right of the track, favouring the drier ground interspersed with gnarly tree roots. I was looking forward to the downhill section which seemed to arrive after no time at all. Soft knees, relaxed shoulders, pick a line and go. It was like flying. I rounded the corner which hailed the start of the second lap with the shouting of our men ringing in my ears.

The second lap seemed to pass just as quickly. I could hear Sarah breathing down my neck, regardless of whether she was there. As the medium and fast pack runners streamed past I kept checking my shoulder for signs of Penny or Elaine, hubris fighting with nemesis over the glory of being first Strider home.

The women put in a storming performance. The remaining counters of Elaine, Sarah and Penny coming in quick succession with the ever-present swift feet of Katy, Rachel T, Lesley, Susan, Camilla and Rachael B not far behind. Finally out of her foot cast, Steph Walker put in a sterling return to racing and Denise came out on top of her friendly rivalry with Catherine Smith. Superb running from our 20 ladies, which will be required again at Wrekenton to climb back in to a podium placing.

The 21-stong men’s team put up a ferocious fight round the three laps of the course, which paid dividends. Our fast lads never faltered and Gareth, Till, newcomer Chris (sorry about missing your bus stop!), Rob, Graeme and Matthew Crow earned top spot in the team placing. A phenomenal performance by all of our gents, with individual promotions guaranteed and rising well clear of the relegation zone. You beasted those Bounders!


Pos Name Club Pack Cat Time
1 Francisco Martinez Sevilla Derwentside AC S MSen 37:29
21 Gareth Pritchard S Msen 40:18
30 Till Sawala S Msen 40:44
48 Chris Wade S Msen 41:12
104 Rob Everson M Msen 42:26
145 Graeme Walton S MV40 43:06
180 Matthew Crow S Msen 43:36
191 Paul Evans M MV35 43:45
222 Matthew Archer S Msen 44:21
244 Scott Watson S MV50 44:46
246 David Lumsdon S MV50 44:46
252 Marc Jones S Msen 44:55
262 David Gibson S MV45 45:08
269 Dave Halligan S MV50 45:15
279 Geoff Davis S MV55 45:35
303 Michael Hughes S MV45 46:16
324 Mike Bennett S MV60 47:12
369 David Selby S MV40 48:43
431 Richard Hockin S MV60 51:27
433 Craig Walker S MV55 51:30
457 Innes Hodgson S MV45 53:08
472 John Hutchinson S MV55 54:30

510 finishers, overall team placing 1st, Division 2

Pos Name Club Pack Cat Time
1 Magda Grinsdale Tyne Bridge Harriers S Fsen 28:22
38 Stephanie Piper S Fsen 32:46
44 Elaine Bisson M FV35 32:58
47 Sarah Davies S FV45 33:03
74 Penny Browell F FV40 33:30
85 Katy Walton M Fsen 33:43
94 Rachel Terry M FV40 33:48
101 Lesley Charman S FV40 33:48
136 Susan Davis M FV50 34:27
144 Camilla Lauren-Maatta S FV45 34:52
155 Rachael Bullock F Fsen 35:01
174 Jan Young S FV60 35:46
192 Stephanie Walker S FV35 36:34
231 Joanne Porter S FV40 38:43
247 Denise Benvin S FV45 41:03
248 Catherine Smith S FV35 41:12
258 Jennifer Cooper S FV35 42:17
276 Kelly Collier S Fsen 45:55
279 Sue Jennings S FV45 46:53
280 Kerry Lister S FV40 46:55
283 Claire Galloway S Fsen 48:22

288 finishers, overall team position 6th, Division 1

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Captain Cook’s Fell Race, Great Ayton, N.Yorks, Thursday, January 1, 2015

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. King/Queen of the Mountain Race - click flag for more information. BS / 8 km / 318 m

Steph Piper

At some point in December, following Jan and Paul’s deceptively encouraging description of this race I made the decision to tackle the Captain Cook’s fell race – what better way to bring in the New Year than with a new running challenge?

Elvet Striders pose for a photo with Great Ayton's WWI commemorative sculpture

New Year’s Eve came around. I dug out my Camelback rucksack and stuffed it with three different waterproof jackets, trousers, map, compass, whistle and penknife – just in case I needed to cut my arm off. Emergency jelly babies also went in as a precaution. The FRA kit-list was a little intimidating – all this for a five mile yomp up a hill and back? Yikes.

I travelled down with Scott and Diane Watson, who were also running, and their daughter Kathryn who had come to spectate and take photographs. Once registered it was time to sort out the bag. Scott kindly (ruthlessly?) vetted the contents (out went two of the jackets, the trousers, the jelly babies and the knife…). Ready to race? You betcha.

As a GP race, fellow Striders were out in force. We had just enough time for a group photo with the wicker soldier before bunching up at the start line. Despite having read the last few years’ race reports and studying the route I really had no idea what to expect, so I simply focussed on getting round the race and set off at a steady pace.

Once out of the village and off the tarmac, the trail soon became narrow and muddy. The frost and snow from the past few days had thawed in the balmy 12 degrees and turned the trail thick with clarts the Mud Captains would have been proud of. It wasn’t long before the steady running pace turned to a walk as each step tried to claim a shoe, an ankle, a competitor.

Hidden within the depths of the woods was the steepest ascent. I craned my neck upwards to see the legs and feet of several Striders disappearing from view. Mel Hudson appeared at my side and we trudged upwards before finally breaking out of the trees to be buffeted by a strong side wind across the tops. Mel put her head down and started on ahead, towards the monument itself, which was miraculously close – I’d almost forgotten we were meant to be running! I kept close as the route turned downhill across slabs and track, picking up plenty of speed past the fir trees decorated with tinsel and baubles.

A flying Steph on the downhill leg towards the finish The descent steepened and deteriorated into even thicker mud, resembling the Aykley Heads XC course – but on steroids. Choose a line: through the middle, ankle deep? Jump from side to side? I tried the latter, pinballing between trees and the sides of the ruts, but these were covered in the slick mud churned up by the runners in front and far too unstable. Through the middle it was then, praying I tied my laces tight enough.

We skirted the old mines before descending on to tarmac and past the houses of Gribdale Terrace and Dikes Lane. Almost every inhabitant had come out to watch us, waving, cheering and wishing a “Happy New Year” over the garden wall. The sharp right hand bend and short, steep uphill section took me by surprise. I walked again, not recalling how much was left of the race from the map and how much energy I might need to conserve. Mark Dunseith thundered past, shouting over his shoulder I was under the hour mark and disappeared through a gate as the course headed back off-road. I followed suit, determined not to let him get too far ahead as the route took the occasional twist and turn through more woods and fields.

Suddenly I heard shouting and looked up from my detailed study of the still-clarty trail to see that a sea of multicoloured people were stood around the next corner. Was this the end? Surely not. It couldn’t be over already? I crossed the line, bewildered, into the laughing and clapping throng of far speedier Striders. What had just happened? My first fell race was conquered, and the seed of a new running curiosity was planted. That was what happened.


Pos Name Club Cat Time
1 Paul Lowe North York Moors M45/1/50/50 32.49
4 Bronwen Owen Scarborough AC FJ/1/50/50 33.53
25 Paul Evans MO/12/37/120 37.29
70 Scott Watson M50/8/41/131 41.13
73 Mike Bennett M60/1/50/50 41.26
111 Michael Hughes M45/18/31/31 43.52
113 Penny Browell F40/3/46/194 44.02
141 Eric Green M45/27/22/22 46.05
159 Mandy Dawson F45/4/45/45 47.12
164 Lucy Cowton FO/7/42/42 47.52
182 Jan Young F60/3/46/194 49.40
197 Camilla Lauren Maatta F45/5/44/186 51.42
210 Ari Hodgson MJ/2/48/48 53.08
217 Melanie Hudson FO/15/34/34 53.50
218 David Shipman M55/14/35/35 53.51
232 Stephanie Piper FO/20/29/29 55.03
233 Ian Spencer M50/31/18/18 55.06
250 Diane Watson F50/5/44/44 60.04
263 Denise Benvin F45/11/38/38 64.57
264 Phil Owen M45/38/11/85 65.14
265 Gillian Green F45/12/37/37 67.10
268 Anita Dunseith FO/26/23/66 74.17
269 Kerry Lister F40/13/36/36 79.20
271 Claire Galloway FO/28/21/21 86.00

271 finishers.

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Lambton 10K, near Chester Le Street, Sunday, June 29, 2014

Steph Piper

The Lambton run is set within the private grounds of the historic Lambton Estate and proceeds from the entry go to the Foundation of Light – Sunderland AFC’s official charity which supports and encourages families and young people to engage through footballing activities. The Lambton Estate is usually closed to the public, so this annual event was a great opportunity to get inside the grounds and explore what is on the other side of the walls.

The day dawned overcast, but with sunny intervals and by the time the claxon sounded for the start of the 10k race the weather was set fair. With a record attendance of 660 runners over both races, the first 2km were a scramble over the start line and out through the woodland along a narrow grassy track. Over the bridge the field finally thinned around the 3rd km where a long, steady climb out of the valley allowed an opportunity to pick off a few who had managed to get ahead early on. Once out of the shady cover of the trees the gradient – and the temperature – rose. The scenery was absolutely magnificent and the rural setting made it the quietest race I have ever run. I had finally settled in to a rhythm, albeit a little slower than planned, and felt good with the sunshine overhead and nothing but the sound of birdsong, steady breathing and the patter of the runners feet.

The water station was situated at 5km, although I didn’t pause for a drink. My split for the halfway marker was well over 25 minutes so I had to do some work if I wanted the sub-50 I was aiming for. Fortunately the next two kilometres were for the most part downhill and afforded a chance to gain some valuable seconds. With only 3km to go I was back on track and feeling confident that the sub-50 was in sight. “There’s a big hill to the finish, mind” cautioned the lad I had been running alongside for most of the race. Naively I didn’t think much of this at the time and pressed on back over the bridge and along the river, below the towering heights of the castle walls.

Then the hill appeared. And what a hill it was. Up ahead, most runners had been reduced to a walk and disappeared around a corner as the marshal at the foot warned it got much worse there. He wasn’t wrong. I was determined not to walk but my pace was reduced to baby steps. A final false summit and it was over, the 9km marker within sight but I was done. The last 1000m seemed to take forever as the seconds ticked on, almost at double speed. Through the trees I could hear the crowd cheering and doubled up with stitch finally burst through the gates in the wall to the finish line. A high-five from Samson the Black Cat and a gun time of 51:32.

It was lovely to see so many familiar purple vests milling around the finishing field, delving into the goodie bag for a well-earned technical tee and bottle of water. Matthew Crow led the Striders home in 41:47 (pos 33) and Sarah Davies the first lady Strider home in 45:57 (pos 89).

In the days following the race, numerous press articles appeared in the Echo, Advertiser and Chronicle, many with pictures of Striders and Strider Juniors who had taken part in the 3km Fun Run which followed the start of the 10k route. An excellent – if challenging – morning of running. Well done all!

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