Tag Archives: Swaledale Marathon

Swaledale Marathon, Saturday, June 8, 2019

Nina Mason

Courtesy of Jan Young

Often a popular Striders event, and this year saw 11 of us brave the elements – heavy rain at times, and breezy in places. I didn’t mind the weather (preferable to sunstroke!) though it made it a little miserable for those spectating – thank you to our supporters.

This was my 19th outing, and I was aiming for sub-4hrs (a personal target that over the last few months has grown out of all sensible proportion in my mind) and anxiety had built up over the previous week. I felt ridiculously stressed at the start, and all the way through to Whaw. I started enjoying myself more on the climb up to Punchard – partly because it’s not easy, and the weather became pretty bad here (so I had other things to think about) and also because I shared this section with Robin, who made me run when my legs didn’t want to, and was good company as we headed into a claggy section over the moor. I was seriously thinking at this point that mum had paid him off to pace me, he was so good at pushing me on, and he didn’t seem tired at all.

Courtesy of Jan Young

As always, I thoroughly enjoyed the descent into Gunnerside. I got there just after my planned time and I thought 4hrs might still be on, though by this point I had remembered that running should (must) be fun – goals are a good thing, but not if they detract from the pure enjoyment of what we do. The pull up to Blades hurt (as always) and the odd cramp here was also pretty unpleasant, but I always like this section; getting to Surrender Bridge and knowing you’re almost home, you’ve just got to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I think I remember the weather improving slightly from Gunnerside. Great to see mum and Tony supporting on the stony track back down to Reeth – my favourite finish!

I didn’t quite get that elusive sub-4 but still very happy knocking a minute off my 2011 PB, and enjoying the company of others throughout, and the bogs and the rain!

Some superb performances by Striders – a ‘comfortable’ win (10 mins clear) for Fiona in the ladies race, both Michael and Stuart in the top 10, and some excellent times and positions for others, particularly given the conditions. Well done to all, whether first-timers or Swaledale ‘veterans’ – I hope to see you all there next year

More Striders images click here

PosEnt NoTimeNameClassClub
140803:01Jamie RutherfordMTotley
729203:28Michael MasonMElvet Striders
1017903:33Stuart ScottMElvet Striders
115403:36Fiona BrannanFElvet Striders
3226703:53Barrie KirtleyMElvet Striders
4129304:01Nina MasonFElvet Striders
471204:04Matthew ArcherMElvet Striders
5735304:10Robin ParsonsMElvet Striders
6119004:15Aaron GourleyMElvet Striders
36115508:00Christine FarnsworthF60Elvet Striders
36248608:00Margaret ThompsonF60Elvet Striders
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Swaledale Marathon, Saturday, June 9, 2018

Nina Mason

How it all started: flashback to 1995 – me and Mum coming into Reeth

17 and counting…

I ran (and walked) my first Swaledale in 1995. I was new to running and Mum (Jan) suggested we give it a go. It was hell. We did it together, and all I remember was her going on about the beautiful views, and me swearing at her a lot. A year later I was back – fitter, 3 months pregnant with Leigh, and up for it. I was hooked.

There are many great races/runs out there, and many reasons why we each have a preference. Swaledale is my firm favourite. I’ve been back most years (though a long break between 2011 and 2017) and completed it in a range of times. With a decent pottery collection now in use around the house, this year was number 17.

For anyone thinking about doing this, I would recommend it (though you may have realised by now that I am somewhat biased!) You need to be quick getting a number (they sell out fast in January), but for £21 you get a well-organised run/walk, water at all the manned checkpoints and cake and sandwiches at a couple, a hot meal at the end, a badge and pottery souvenir, lots of great views, and the chance to share the experience with other like-minded runners and walkers. You don’t usually need to use your map if the weather is good and you’ve recced the route (though be prepared to do so if needed).

This year – I wished Mum and a few other Striders luck at the start then didn’t see her again after the initial climb up to Fremington Edge. The weather was great – not too much sun, a bit of a breeze, and fairly dry underfoot. I was aiming for under 5 hours but a little worried about post-Yomp legs (only 6 days before).

One of the Swaledale ‘greats’ (Strider RotY in ‘93 and ‘99 – and stepdad – Tony Young) once wisely said ‘the race starts at Gunnerside’. It’s true. I often fade here – that climb out is tough with 16 or so miles in your legs – but when I got there, well within the planned time, I focussed on forcing myself to run at least the flats and downs (ok, jog). This year I managed to keep my pace going and passed quite a few people between there and the end. Pushing hard down the stony track into Reeth (my favourite bit of my favourite race) I finished well under target time.

Really hard work but thoroughly enjoyed the day. Good performances from the other Striders that turned out too.

The best bit for me, 22 years after her first ‘visit’, was seeing Leigh at the end and a big hug; and then (with Tony) cheering Nanny/Mum/Jan in.

I jokingly challenged Leigh to do this next year, but I think she declined. I’d be very happy to walk/jog at her pace, perhaps waxing lyrical about the glorious views…. after all, it never did me any harm.

PosTime NameClass
103.15.00Julian Simpson
R'mond & Ze
1003.28.00Amy Sarkies
803.27.00Michael MasonM
7604.24.00Matthew ArcherM
10304.37.00Nina MasonF40
21205.46.00Andrew ThompsonM
21305.46.00Jan YoungF60
42008.22.00Margaret ThompsonF60
42108.22.00Anita ClementsonF40


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Swaledale Marathon – Jack’s story, Swaledale, North Yorkshire, Saturday, June 10, 2017

Grand Prix Race - click flag for current league tables. King/Queen of the Mountain Race - click flag for more information. 23 miles

Jack Lee

The Swaledale Marathon like any decent run ends up as a story. This will be the story of how I started full of energy, in a rain jacket with a pack full of gels and water and ended up exhausted, sprinting through Reeth and soaked to the skin in just a Striders vest. However, if you ask any who ran or spectated that day they will give you their stories; most of those are shared with friends such as Camilla and Kathryn, Tim and Phil or Gareth and Stephen and many others. While I rarely ran with other Striders I made many friends who shared my struggle and who while I might never know their names I shall never forget.

Swaledale might not be on the FRA calendar but it has one thing in common with the fell races I have ran…it started with a long, steep and painful ascent. This was towards Fremington Edge and while I had told myself and others before I would stay with friends (Jon and Elaine were the ones I was thinking of) I found that my regimen of strength and core training meant I floated up the hill. I looked into Jon’s eyes on the way up and knew that I was too strong to hold myself back. What had felt like a tough start the year before seemed like a jog down to the shops for milk and so I struck off on my own ahead into a windy and rainy new adventure.

Stephen, Michael and Gareth had gone off in their triumvirate but I became the fourth strider running with a group across the top of Fremington and down into the next valley towards Whaw. An increasingly terrifying gap behind meant that the little group I was in became my new comrades and I had to keep the legs turning over to keep up. It wasn’t difficult but I always feared for later as I had barely held onto consciousness last year in the final mile and didn’t fancy going through that again. I kept up through the valley and up towards Great Punchard Head where we lost a few on the climb, at this point I was with a few other men and the first lady (checking the results her name was Amy and she ran for Rugby and Northallerton). She floated up Punchard…I don’t think I ever saw her walk and we were together for 12 or so miles including all the hard work up Great Punchard Head. I ran almost all that uphill as well with only short stops to walk and make sure I didn’t get ahead as I hadn’t recce’d Punchard as thoroughly as possible.


After a while we made it to the bog and I am not sure how any of us made it through that mass of muddy holes and collapsing paths. It had been raining pretty consistently since the start of the race and by now we were all sodden and the coarse was soaked through from current rain and that in the week before; wet bog is a beast of its own but we fought through mile after mile of tough track and a few self-clip points later and one manned clip point we came to the last self-clip on Punchard. My group had whittled down to myself, another guy who seemed nice and Amy (who glided as if on road). She later told me at one point it was her second time doing Swaledale and that she was a road runner by trade. Considering her nav (thumbing the map as she went) and her strength I would recommend a change of focus. Anyway we reached the final self-clip on Punchard to find a very wet looking group of three clipping at which point Michael turned around and greeted me. We had run the fell so well that we had caught up to Michael, Stephen and Gareth apparently.


This was the start of the downhill towards Gunnerside and when I said to my new friend that these three were some of the fastest in my club she turned to me and said only “you have them”. Encouraged by this I quickly over took Gareth who was busy writing a determined story of his own (albeit maybe not the happiest of tales). When the navigation went a bit awry I took the rest of them and went down towards Gunnerside. While there I did the manned clip and started tactically stripping…I was too hot in the rain jacket and the rain was down to a mere drizzle for the first time since the start of the race. My new friends left ahead and I was left with Michael, with Stephen and Gareth behind. Michael and I started the uphill out of Gunnerside and he stayed with me for a bit until I said something like “Michael, I have run the race of my life but there is not much left and I know the rest of the route…leave me, I will be fine”. So hesitantly he did.


I don’t know how I got through the rest of the miles but I did. I thought I could see Michael’s luminous jacket ahead although it turned out it was someone else and he was actually well ahead overtaking everyone and their mothers. I ran as the rain and wind came back to lash at my Strider’s vest. I fell after surrender bridge while in a small gulley and just remember getting up and thinking that I couldn’t stop. My leg had cramped but I though hiking out of the gulley would stretch it out. I was in a bad way at this point with no strength left although I was fairly conscious at least.


I kept going and after seeing Jan’s husband I made my way down the lane of loose rocks with the last self-clip and came out into Reeth where a small crowd with a few cheering Striders (Joanne and Lesley come to mind) coaxed a pseudo-sprint out of me. It felt like a sprint to me but for all I know it could have looked more like a waddle. Everyone else turned up in layers at the least and mostly in rain jackets but I must have looked a sight in only shorts and a soaked vest. I got to the finish line, gave in my card and went for food. I had finished 14th in 3 hours and 36 minutes. 7 minutes quicker than last year in much worse conditions and 37 places higher. With food I sat down and made merry…job done.


Well done to everyone who ran a tough and wet Swaledale this year with a special mention to Michael Mason (6th), Elaine Bisson (3rd Female) and the Men’s Team (2nd). An honourable mention to everyone who spectated as well who waited in the rain while we had all the “fun”.

Results available here

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Swaledale Marathon – in road shoes!, Swaledale, North Yorkshire, Saturday, June 10, 2017

23 miles

Matt Archer

I guess a good starting point for this misadventure would be why? I am a roadrunner. I love the roads and although I have grown to love cross country the roads will always be my favourite mistress. After seemingly being stuck in a rut I took some advice from Carole Seheult. She suggested that I needed to love running again and stop PB chasing, so with that in mind I decided to enter races that intrigued me but had never run before because they weren’t on a road. I scoured the race calendar and the two that stood out were the DT20 and Swaledale. As soon as they opened I entered both and was really looking forward to some off road adventures. Before the DT20 I went down to Reeth with my long time training partner in crime, Pete Mason, and we ran some of the DT20 route. I came away feeling that it was tough but achievable. What has this got to do with Swaledale I hear you cry? Well to cut a long story short I ran the DT20 and hated it, my legs were wrecked within the first couple of km and I spent the rest of the race feeling very frustrated. This left me facing Swaledale with some trepidation, I was going to be revisiting the same territory but this time going for longer. Several people tried to reassure me that the Swaledale climbs were not as brutal but I wasn’t convinced.

In the lead up to the race I consulted with a Swaledale vet, who shall remain nameless, who advised me to wear my road shoes over my cushionless Inov8s. This recommendation was reiterated one week before the race so my mind was made up. Unfortunately the weather was not paying attention to my decision as it then proceeded to rain for the entire week before.

I woke on Saturday morning asking myself what I was doing. I had not recced the course, the weather was bad and my experiences at the DT20 were still haunting me. Race day breakfast was consumed and I jumped in the car to drive down. On arriving in Reeth the weather was no better but my mind was made up – road shoes. We assembled in the start field ready for the off, most people in waterproof running jackets that we were sure we would be taking off shortly when we started to warm up.

The ascent of Fremington Ridge began and to my delight I arrived at the top with a piar of legs that seemed to be in good working order. Having run the ridge twice in the past I knew that conditions underfoot would be challenging for the road shoes but to my delight they performed well with no notable traction issues.

Figure 1 – The trusty all terrain Adidas ‘road’ shoes. Next stop Cross Country.

Figure 2 – A photo showing the extensive grip that these beasts posess.

I was slowly working my way through the field feeling slightly cocky about my choice of footwear. We arrived at the descent, a grass like carpet that I had thrown myself down with great delight in the past. A smile started to stretch over my face as… oh shit its like an ice rink. Road shoes + wet grass = no grip. I backed off and slowly picked my way down the climb as runners in grippier options flew past. Reaching the bottom I was not perturbed as we were on a semi solid track and this turned into tarmac as I slowly picked off the runners who had passed me and then some. I saw Elaine Bisson, had a quick chat and carried on my merry way. Oh how I love my road shoes, all is forgiven. Before long Jon Ayres and the second placed female appeared on my horizon and I caught them too. I was enjoying this far more than expected. My legs felt good, my shoes were paying dividends, even the rain couldn’t dampen my spirits. Oh no but the sucking black peat bog that we were about to enter certainly could. I had been warned that this stretch would be tricky in road shoes but 5 miles in the grand scheme of things wasn’t much was it?? Wasn’t much?? It was f*!k$*g eternity. I was all over the shop, even the smallest change in direction had me scrabbling for grip. I slowed to a walk and quickly lost sight of the runners around me. Not a problem if you know where you are going. I didn’t. As I emerged from the black hell Elaine cruised past telling me to latch on and latch on I did. My directional knight in shining armour had arrived. We powered on having returned to a hard trail. I started loving it again, after all I had just completed the toughest part for my road shoes and I hadn’t gone over once. Things were looking up. We descended down towards the river and the run in to Gunnerside, my legs felt good, my body felt pretty fresh and all memories of the DT20 had been vanquished. To get to the river we left the farm track to cut through some fields, not a problem, its grass not the horrible black peat. We enter a field with a steep slope things start to go wrong, smooth soles on wet grass, this isn’t going to go well and it didn’t. It wasn’t long before I was sliding down the hill on my back. I picked myself up, muttered a string of obscenities and studied the line of mud that stretched down my body. I couldn’t dwell though as Elaine was moving and I needed to keep up. We searched for a way out of the field, found it and dropped down to the river and followed it to Gunnerside. Into the check point we went and straight out again, passing runners that had left me on the peat bog earlier.

Figure 3 – Leaving Gunnerside with Elaine who guided me round a big chunk.

Straight out of Gunnerside there is a steep ascent, Elaine powering ahead, me behind furiously trying to keep up. When we arrive at the top Elaine urges me to go on if I feel like it so I open my legs and away I go. Conditions underfoot seem pretty… woah bang. Next thing I know I am lying in some gorse on my back. I hear the words “are you ok Matt?” drifting over. No way I got away with that one. I quickly pick myself up and with a quick “Yes” continue on my… bang. Knees and hands hit the deck, I’m down on all fours. Not again. The footpath began to open up and I passed one runner and then a second. I hit a gravel road I recognised, I knew the end was near and I still felt good. I hit the accelerator and increased the pace passing another runner. The track ends, now I am not sure, I think I know but not 100%. Where is the guy I passed? He appears, I check, he isn’t sure but thinks it’s the way I was going to choose so I go with it. Through the gate and onto an uneven rocky path, yes this is it. My road shoes suddenly come into their own as I start to fly down the path without a care in the world. I pass a lady who warns me that the next section is slippy. Not in these bad boys. I motored on. The end of the path approaches, I know it’s a left onto the road, I open up my stride and throw myself down the hill as I approach the final bend the crowd roars (namely Jo P, Lesley C and Mandy D). Round I go and through the finish. I look at my watch, sub 4 hours. I collect my mug and walk away a happy man.

Figure 4 – Flying into Reeth and the finish.

Massive thanks to Elaine Bisson for being my guide, to Jo P for providing the post race towel, Lesley C and Mandy D for standing in the rain cheering us all home and the biggest thanks go to my Adidas Glide Boosts, I couldn’t have done it without you!!

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Swaledale Marathon – A Soaked Supporter’s View, Swaledale, North Yorkshire, Saturday, June 10, 2017

23 miles

Pam Kirkup

8.00am on the morning of the race Paul F & I pitched up to registration, in my case, to hand in my number for anyone who hoped to get an entry on the day. It was drizzling nicely.

An hour later at the start, this year’s cohort of runners seemed somewhat diminished from previous years. The purple posse was there in strength … and the rain was building up.

If you don’t know the course of the Swaledale Marathon it’s 23+ miles over quite diverse terrain, including valley paths, some steep climbs on rubble and bog, some awkward peat hags, some decent paths over the moors and a pretty unpleasant, stony downhill path to the road down to the village of Reeth. Saturday was probably one of the worst conditions I have seen for this run. It was going to be difficult and challenging – a certain bog-fest, even for the experts. A baptism of fire for Swaledale ‘virgins’.

After the start, the walking wounded – Mandy and I – trudged in the now heavy rain to Reeth in search of coffee and shelter. In the meantime the purple posse was doing the slog up the rubble to Fremington Edge. This is a swampy, boggy ridge which goes in the direction of Langthwaite, the route goes through a gate downhill into the valley and then on roads to the first checkpoint. On Saturday Fremington Edge would have been at its most unpleasant – and I hear it was very boggy – but nothing compared to what was to come.

The route then is mostly on roads to Whaw and the second checkpoint. After this is a steep uphill climb to the main road, which the runners cross to the path up to Great Punchard  Head. A small stream on the way up had become much more full, and the stream crossing at Great Punchard Head seemed to have become a challenge to some people, as Paul arrived there. After Great Punchard Head route finding can be difficult but, although it was cold, very windy and the rain was hammering down, Paul said that the route was clear. No mist. And,  for the first time, the path was marked with flags. However, the ground underfoot was very difficult. Nina said that she lost her footing and one leg ended up knee deep in a bog. A runner in front of Paul ended up thigh deep in a bog – thankfully he was able to haul himself out. Luckily, visibility was clear and so runners could find their way to Little Punchard and then on to Level House – a fantastic food station with tea, sandwiches, cake, flapjacks and lots more.

By then I had joined the dash to Gunnerside – you have to get there early to get a parking place. The rain was now relentless. I missed the first few runners coming through but I did see Jack, and then Stephen and Gareth (poster boy for next year’s race??). The camaraderie of supporters is really amazing – everyone shouts for other people’s runners as they sprint down that riverside path to the road. Even though you don’t know them! The purple posse came hurtling in after that. Phil & Tim, Matthew & Elaine, David Brown, then Jules, Mike Bennett, Jan, Nina, Malcolm Sygrove, Camilla & Kathryn and then Paul! I didn’t get photos of Elaine Bisson (3rd lady!!) who ran a blinder with Mathew Archer (how could he possibly have run that course in road shoes???), or David Brown – his picture was black .Rain?

From Gunnerside the runners leave the road at the top of the village, taking a long steep path up to a (usually) decent path to Blades. Part of this has vehicular access for the cottages and farms so wouldn’t normally be difficult. At Blades the route veers off to the left onto a level moorland path to Surrender Bridge which can often be quite muddy – a quagmire on Saturday! Surrender Bridge is the last manned checkpoint and marshals point runners in the right direction for the last push to Reeth. Once you’ve negotiated ‘Crinkly Bottom’, a small but steep ghyll, (I hear it now has a bridge to cross it), you make your way to a long, narrow and often steep path of stones and boulders. Punishing on, by now, sore and weary feet. For me it’s always been a nightmare. Then it’s a downhill cruise on the road to the finish.

In the meantime, I drove back to Reeth, after Paul came through Gunnerside, and joined the finish supporters at the Buck Inn. People were sharing stories about the bogs, the peat hags and the awful conditions underfoot. It was certainly a more difficult course this year – for everyone. Gareth said “Never, never, ever again!”. Tim said “It was great I loved it”! Everyone had a story to tell! Spirits were high.

Regardless of the conditions, Elvet Striders did a great job. We were second male team, only just beaten by East Hull Harriers. And Elaine Bisson was 3rd Lady in a sensational 03.55 and was 33rd overall. There were some excellent times:

Michael Mason – 3.24, Jack Lee – 3.36, Steven and Gareth 3.39, Mat (road shoes) Archer – 3.53, Elaine (super woman) Bisson 3.55, David Brown 4.19, Tim & Phil – 4.31, Jules – 4.36, Mike Bennett – 4.45, Nina – 5.10, Jan – 5.17, Kathryn – 5.19,Malcolm – 5.26, Camilla – 5.27, Paul Foster – 5.37, Joan & Anita – 5.42, Emil Maatta – 6.02, Anna & Catherine – 6.51, Barbara Dick – 7.01, Louise Billcliffe – 7.20, Christine Farnsworth & Margaret Thompson – 7.42.

I hope the first-timers won’t be put off. On a good day it’s a fantastic course with wonderful scenery. Saturday was not the best start! However it takes more than a day’s deluge to dampen the spirits of the purple posse.

Here’s a gallery of some thoroughly soaked Striders!


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Swaledale Marathon, Reeth, Saturday, June 13, 2015

23.2 Miles / 4,128 feet

Jon Ayres

Twelve months ago I’d limped over the finish line at this race cursing my lack of preparation. I’d cramped up badly at seventeen miles and from that point on saw my goal time, which looked in the bag, drift away leaving me feeling drained, dreadful and for a few moments up on the moors wondering if there was any point in putting on a pair of trainers.

From January this year, once my entry had been confirmed, my plans had been more methodical, lots more miles , more off road runs, practicing with food that might prevent the same issues and when possible getting down to the area where the event was held but still chattering away were the nagging doubts.

So to race day and registration, kit check, hello’s to the multitude of striders at the start, loo queues and last minute alteration of attire. And then the doubts returned: negative gripes, memories of when training hadn’t been good and good Lord boy what are you doing wearing road shoes? The start, up Fremlington went Ok, my plan of averaging 10 minute miles was put on hold, as expected, the slow hilly clamber eventually lead to the top and then time to push on across the top of Frem’ for a couple of miles until a quick descent and time to head out to Langthwaite with tarmac and smooth(er) surfaces. Around here Penny Browell and I joined forces and started to pick off a few runners and drag down our mile times.

Around 7 ½ miles all seemed OK and the protracted and lingering ascent of Punchard was embarked upon. For those not familiar with the course this is mixed terrain that doesn’t seem to allow a regular running rhythm (it’s bloody hard work) but by the time we reached the checkpoint at 13 miles we were still, just, inside my schedule.

The run from here down to Gunnerside split Penny and I up and also saw me sliding down the steeper descents backside first. The countryside and its fantastic views not really being appreciated as I constantly glanced for time checks.

Then the climb, the one that last year had led to me face planting to the ground screaming, really screaming, as both my legs seemed to set firm and muscles freeze hard. As someone more used to tarmac and getting upset about slight inclines I find Flemington’s a tough climb, Punchard really hard work but Gunnerside is cruel just plain cruel, the start of the ascent’s rocky, it twists and deceives and then just for good measure it’s got a second part to destroy hope and legs. Here my pace slowed to a shuffle and slow walk the miles seemed to take forever to pass but finally the top was reached and the road, trail and blessed quick drop on Tarmac that lead to surrender bridge saw me a few seconds over my time plan. A bit of work on the rocky trails and surely I’d get back to where I needed to be.

A small ( though by now it felt enormous) ravine type area, that had to be dropped into and climbed out of was passed and I felt OK and started to think that this year was the year then with about 5k to go I cramped, just one leg this time but all I could do was drop to the floor and howl. I screamed out that it wasn’t fair and punched the ground in frustration, I’m not ashamed to admit I wanted to cry. Six months work wasted and this time I’m not coming back.

A stream of profanities and a couple of futile efforts to get up and then silence and negative thoughts. I lay still hoping that my leg would ease, I grabbed salt drops from my pack and poured them neat onto my tongue and still no relief, then slowly the pain started to rescind and a fellow runner offered a lift up. Remembering how last time my legs had repeatedly froze if I jarred them I took short soft baby steps expecting stabs of pain but nothing my legs were holding out. A gentle increase in pace and still all held well and with two Km to go I’d 18 minutes left of my allotted time, hope rose anew. Then( and I promise this is the truth) as I approached the final self check point, it’s less than half a mile from the end, and reached for the string on which was attached my check card I realised it had fallen off.

A couple of sickening moments of panic took over. I’d last used the card about 3 miles ago would I have to head back and find it? Could I convince the judges that I’d been through all the points after all folk would have seen me on the course and my number had been taken. A deep breath and rational thought led to me checking the pocket where the card should be and a resultant sigh of relief as it nestled snugly underneath my water bottle.

From here I glided home yes the path was awful and hidden jagged stones attempted to turn my ankle but my goal was attainable, a drop onto the road ,a jog to the village hall and that’s it job done home with six minutes to spare a plate of food, lots of orange juice, congratulations to friends and all problems were forgotten.

Penny came home in a very respectable 4.05 despite getting lost and the Elvet ladies recorded a famous victory (aided by Mandy’s protestations and a belief in all that is fair) . So next year? I lost three minutes, at least, pinned down as my leg seized and if I learn how to run downhill there’s time to be found but for now just relief that I’ve not wasted the first half of this year and that the choice of foot attire worked.

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Swaledale Marathon, Reeth, Saturday, June 14, 2014

23.2M / 4,128'

Anita Clementson, Will Horsley

Anita Clementson …

Elvet Striders – Tour de Force at Swaledale

My third attempt at this gem of a run. Rolling hills, fabulous views, checkpoints which would give any WI cake stall a run for their money and of course the cracking company.

A really well organised event from start to finish, on its 35th year so I guess they have had lots of practice. They even had a nice shiney new shuttle bus to take smellie runners back to the car park just outside Reeth post race.

Swaledale Sunshine. Great to see such a good turnout and mix of striders, from the very experienced Will, Dougie, Maggie, Andrew T and Mandy to striders taking the plunge for the first time on a longer distance fell event namely Camilla, Lucy, Kerry, Denise & Helen. A few striders choosing to take the walking option were Roz, Barry & Christine. Also Angela teamed up with Sue who was pacing herself salvaging energy for the Rosedale marathon on the following day!

Swaledale Selfie. The morning started off feeling quite warm with the clouds giving a slight promise of the sun making an appearance at some point. Runners and walkers gathered for the ‘grande departe’ at the foot of fremington edge. We were off but no mad dash with elbows out, no, this was a walk and a queue up the hill with runners politely by-passing the walkers. In reality this only lasted about 5 mins then we were making good ascent up the edge and once on the top the race really began as there is a lovely long stretch slightly downhill to Langthwaite. I was running with Camilla and Lucy and it was their first Swaledale. My aim was to get under 5 hours and better last years time of 5.21. Pacing was on plan as we hit the next climb upto Punchard, felt good but bloody hot! The miles just seemed to tick by really comfortably, running with company was really enjoyable and we passed quite a few other striders on our way having a quick chat and also chit chat with other fellow runners. This is one of the absolute highlights of this type of event, it is relaxed and everyone’s out for a good days run taking on the challenge soaking it all in.

Climb out of Gunnerside. A cake fest at checkpoint after a bit squelchy Punchard, pass through ‘moonscape’ then a grassy descent to Gunnerside with a couple of really cheeky steep banks thrown in (unfortunately cramp set in for Camilla at this point). Re-fuelled with more cake and tea here for the last stretch. Was fab to see Jan Young & hubbie next cheering us all on (hope you will be running next year Jan), this was a real boost. Lucy was running really strong as she had plenty left in the tank for a good finish so at the next checkpoint Surrender Bridge she bounced off into the distance. I’d forgotten the last section, even though it’s mostly downhill it is quite stoney so requires a fair bit of concentration and effort to not fall flat on your face! I was still on track for achieving my desired time, the rocky path finally came to an end and a Marshall shouted ‘300 metres to go’. Dodging the throng of cyclists doing a reccie of stage 1 of the TDF, I ran as hard as I could, past the crowd outside The Buck Inn and all the finished runners lying on the grass, cheering everyone in, what a finish! Will was first strider home and 4th male, Jon A , Mike H & Aaron all gaining PB’s. Mandy & Jules 1st strider ladies home with Lucy 3rd. David Brown, David Selby & Rachel strong finish times on first Swaledale. Ladies team 2nd overall, Men’s team 4th.

Aye, a grand day out in all.

Panoramic Finish.

… Will Horsley

Swaledale from near the front

From the very start a couple of fellas made their intentions clear and were pretty much out of sight by checkpoint 1. Did catch one last glimpse of them on the climb up Punchard Moor and they were still on each other’s heels. It looks like they pushed each other to very quick times. For the chasing pack we settled into a steady rhythm and took turns in leading, with me usually leading the climbs. Eventually me and a lad from Newton Aycliffe, Dez, pulled a small way ahead and pushed each other round for good finishing times. Indeed Dez acted as a superb guide when it came to the descent to Gunnerside. We both slowed up badly in the final few miles with Dez staying just that little bit sharper than me. Conditions were very humid at the start and dehydration was clearly going to be a concern. It stayed warm all day but conditions dried out. It was cool and very damp underfoot on the top at Punchard Moor. This was a fantastically organised event with cheerful marshals and supporters, nice conditions, beautiful surroundings and a huge number of striders. It was also great to see Jan, Tony and Pam out on the course cheering on the striders and others. I gave this race everything and am still recovering now but it was worth it. So proud to be a part of this club, which looks like we had the greatest number of entries and took 4th men’s and 2nd women’s team positions. Stride on!

Is there something else happening soon?


Pos Name Club Cat CatPos Time
1 Tony Lambert Swaledale R M 03:00
4 William Horsley M 03:18
19 Jane McCarthy Ilkley F40 03:35
48 Jon Ayres M 04:07
60 Michael Hughes M 04:16
78 Aaron Gourley M 04:28
96 David Brown M 04:34
97 Mandy Dawson F40 04:34
98 Juliet Percival F40 04:34
127 Lucy Cowton F 04:49
135 Anita Clementson F40 04:53
142 Rachael Bullock F 04:59
143 David Selby M 04:59
152 Paul Foster M50 05:02
183 Camilla Lauren-Maatta F40 05:18
189 Andrew Thompson M 05:20
196 Dougie Nisbet M50 05:21
271 Phil Layton M50 06:18
275 Margaret Thompson F40 06:20
302 Sue Jennings F40 06:39
303 Angela Proctor F 06:39
360 Christine Anne Farnsworth F40 07:21
361 Barrie John Evans M50 07:21
370 Roz Layton F40 07:30
372 Denise Benvin F40 07:31
373 Helen Allen F40 07:31
374 Kerry Lister F40 07:31

436 finishers

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Swaledale Marathon, Reeth, Saturday, June 8, 2013

23.2M / 4,128'

Mark Dunseith

Having signed up for this race back in January thinking I had plenty of time to train for the distance I hadn’t planned on an ankle injury in February putting nearly all running on hold for 2 months so I arrived at the start line wholly unprepared for what was ahead of me. With my longest race being the Great North Run last year and my longest run being a winter Broom Park outing one Sunday morning for 14 miles I was a little worried about doing 24+ miles over fells.

A good sleep the night before plus a good breakfast and I managed to get to the start line feeling as good as I could on the morning of the run. Off we went up the hill and after taking advice from Sue Jennings and reading Anita’s report from last year I walked up this hill as well as many others throughout the day. After a quick picture at the top of the first climb I finally got chance to get running. I ran past Anita and Dougie saying a quick hello and then shortly after Mike Hughes caught up with me and we had a bit of a chat while running. After my performance at Broughton Wood Wobble, when I was passed by glaciers while descending, I decided to read up on how to descend properly. I put this into practice here and managed to make a few places while going downhill.

Paul Evans, heading for a top-ten finish.Shaun chucking a soggy unwanted cap at Pam.

After passing through the gate, over the bridge and up a hill I reached round to take a drink from my newly acquired Pier to Pier bottle belt and disaster, my bottle had fallen out. At this point Mike Hughes caught me again and when I mentioned what had happened he said there was a bottle lying back at the bridge. Only being 4 miles into the race on such a hot day, it was a quick but difficult decision but I had to turn round and run back to the bridge. I think it only added about a third of a mile to my race but it was so demoralising running the wrong direction with lots of people passing me.

I grabbed my bottle and took off up the hill for the second time where I eventually caught up with Anita and Andrew Thompson. Having never met Andrew before I spent a bit of time running and chatting with him before he and Anita ran ahead as I slowed a bit due to my hips hurting. I knew that to get round this run I would need to find someone to focus on and stay within sight of and I decided that Andrew would be that guy.

Mike Hughes going well at Gunnerside.Paul Foster and Dougie conserving their energies at Whaw.

I kept them both in sight and caught them just before the first checkpoint running again with them as we crossed a road at about 8 and a half miles and headed up the fells. Andrew ran on ahead with Anita and me running a nice pace behind. Up yet another hill and I was keeping Andrew in sight when I decided that my choice of attire was a mistake. Having always worn under armour while running (I only started running last September and have always needed it) I had to stop to take off my under armour top. A Clif bar and a drink and I was off again with Andrew still in sight.

For about 3 miles I just kept plodding away and eventually caught Andrew before he took off again and increased the distance between us again. At this point I noticed a girl with a skull and crossbones tattoo on her arm that I had passed a few times so decided that she would be my new target as Andrew was getting further away from me. I kept up with her until the 12 mile checkpoint where I met Andrew again who was having a chat with Dougie and getting ready to leave. I grabbed a drink and a sandwhich and started walking up the hill with them. At this point I had passed my furthest distance ran before so from here on it was uncharted territory. After a bit of a walk I spotted the girl I was chasing a little in front of me so started a slow jog up the hill. The rest of the race was overtaking, then being overtaken, by this girl. The time was passing so slowly with me checking my Garmin every quarter mile or so. At this point I considered taking the watch off but instead I made a conscious decision not to look at it quite so often. A quarter of a mile later I checked my Garmin, this was going to be a long day.

Mark reaches Fremlington Edge.

With just over 6 miles to go I was under 3 hours 50 minutes and had a sub 5 hours finish in my head. Then I left Gunnerside and the climb nearly killed me and sub 5 was a distant dream. I can’t remember much until Surrender Bridge and once I got up the hill I spotted ‘the girl with skull and crossbone tattoo’ and decided that I was going to overtake her for the final time and stay in front.

After doing a walk/run strategy all through the race I decided that as there was ‘less than a parkrun to go’, I would run every step to the finish. I passed quite a few people on the way to the finish. Once past the final self clip point I ran down the narrow path with the loose stones and into the town to a great welcome by the spectators and a 5 hour and 12 minute finish. If I had to sign up now for next year, with the pain my legs have been in today, then I don’t think I would be back. However, come January I may be persuaded again.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Stewart Gregory Holme Pierrepoint M 3:08
7 Paul Evans M 3:30
12 Heather Mochrie Unattached F 3:33
38 Shaun Roberts MV50 3:55
87 Mike Hughes M 4:27
105 Aaron Gourley M 4:39
130 Jon Ayres M 4:49
156 Paul Foster MV50 4:59
184 Mark Dunseith M 5:12
204 Anita Clementson FV40 5:21
213 Dougie Nisbet MV50 5:26
220 Andrew Thompson MV40 5:33
288 Christine Farnsworth FV40 6:17
289 Barrie John Evans MV50 6:17
304 Margaret Thompson FV40 6:27
348 Bob Layton *HS MV50 7:08
349 Roz Layton FV40 7:08

444 finishers.
*HS Honorary Strider
Striders Mens team 2nd, Striders Womens team 18th, of 19.

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Swaledale Marathon, Reeth, Saturday, June 9, 2012

23.2M / 4,128'

Anita Clementson

I was really keen to do an endurance event this year and push the boundaries from my previous longest race (Coastal Run). The Swaledale marathon ticked quite a few boxes for me 1) nice views 2) mixed terrain 3) hills 4) friendly non corporate event 5) (and most importantly) serves tea and cake at checkpoints!! Thanks to the reminders on the Striders emails I got a place as they fill up literally within hours when the Swaledale Outdoor Club announce race entries early in January.

The weather conditions looked pretty grim on review the night before and thus was expecting a soggy experience. Arriving in Reeth though the next morning the clouds were breaking and I dared to be optimistic that the forecast could be wrong. A handful of Striders were taking part in doing the race, Maggie & Andrew Thompson, Christine, Shaun, Dougie, Jan, Tom, Angela and Sue (who’d both completed the full yomp last week, hence not much recovery time but that’s never held these two feisty ladies back!)

This race was hilly and this was no joke for the first slog upto Fremlington edge, wisely was a steady walk and this took on the premise for the rest of the race, walk up the hills! Once we got upto the edge the sun came out and the Yorkshire Dales were in all their glory. The views were stunning and really lifted my spirits. Another positive feature of this race is it has walkers as well as runners, the field of competitors was very friendly and a few words of chat were to be had when passing people en-route. This also meant for me as a slower runner that I wasn’t at the back of the field for once.

We’ve had horrendous weather over the last few days with lots of flood alerts. The tops were very boggy (nearly lost my shoes a few times) and had to negotiate a lot of streams and bogs. Everyone commented that it’s the wettest they’ve seen it on this race. Although conditions were pretty good for running staying dry and sunny but not too hot with good views until the last 3 miles (after surrender bridge) and then we had hail stones (felt like it anyway, was well battered!) was very soggy at the end, the stony path backdown into Reeth turned into a gushing stream (a kayak would have been useful a runner behind me commented).

I paced myself with Maggie who is a seasoned marathon runner and on her 10th+ Swaledale. There were check points serving cakes and tea! You don’t usually get that on runs. One checkpoint had homemade fudge (yum yum). With the slower pacing and fuelling I felt pretty fresh at 17 miles and Maggie encouraged me to go on. After a 15 minute teastop at Gunnerside the last few miles were my fastest and I even did a sprint finish to the village hall finish in Reeth. This was assisted by making sure I overtook Mr Nordic poles whom was in my eye line in the 21st mile, who made a comment about runners as he overtook us at checkpoint 1. A free meal and copious amounts of tea were served up in the Reeth village hall with lots of volunteers (seemed like the whole village had come out to help) and caught up with other club members whom had already finished and also Barry & Pam who’d had to give numbers up unfortunately. I’ll definitely be back next year.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Tony Lambert Swaledale Road Runners M 3:07
15 Naomi Fowler Unattached F 3:52
27 Shaun Roberts MV50 4:03
76 Andrew Thompson M 4:41
115 Paul Foster *HS MV50 4:57
153 Jan Young FV40 5:24
169 Joan Hanson *HS FV40 5:27
170 Tom Reeves *RWM M 5:27
171 Dougie Nisbet M 5:27
225 Christine Farnsworth FV40 6:08
233 Anita Clementson FV40 6:12
237 Thomas Hanson *HS M 6:14
256 Margaret Thompson FV40 6:26
274 Angela Proctor F 6:40
275 Sue Jennings FV40 6:40
309 Bob Layton *HS MV50 7:08

419 finishers.
*HS Honorary Strider
*RWM Running With Missus
Striders Mens team 7th, Striders Womens team 15th, of 18.

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Swaledale Marathon, Reeth, Saturday, June 11, 2011

23.2M / 4,128'

Pam Kirkup

I had planned to walk/jog the whole way this year – I’d certainly done enough training. However, a nasty little virus intervened and I was relegated to the sidelines once again; a reluctant spectator after Langthwaite, the first checkpoint. The weather forecast was dubious for Saturday when what seemed to be a smaller-than-usual field congregated at the start for that heart-warming slog up to Fremington Edge. Heart-warming? Try lung bursting, leg burning and totally knackering. Ok, I’m exaggerating but I was feeling feverish at the time.

Nina ended up running much, much faster than the prediction she rather strangely had stuck in her cap. Nigel was in denial at this stage, but it all went ok.

I drifted steadily to the back, or so it seemed, by the time I got onto an unusually bog-free Fremington Edge. There I met some friendly people from Northallerton with their very fit niece, Emma, from Brisbane and on leave from the Aussie air-force. They kept me entertained en route to Langthwaite where, after umpteen coughing fits, I decided to drop out. So the rest of the route is Paul’s description!

From Langthwaite to Whaw was good underfoot and the support was much appreciated on that steep hill up to the main road and on to Great Punchard Head. The first drops of rain occurred at this point although the hill-side and path remained drier than usual. A couple of weeks previously we had recced the possible routes from Great Punchard and there was still plenty of sloppy mud about. The area near the checkpoint was badly eroded and taped off and so on to Little Punchard and the real mud-bath! Paul was very impressed with the extensive choice of grub at Level House – a wide range of sandwiches, cake and flap-jack managed to stave off hunger pangs and cramp.

It was at Gunnerside when the rain got really heavy which seemed to be an on and off feature all the way to Surrender Bridge. The last three miles I personally hate – heavy, aching legs, sometimes cramp, always running out of energy – and then there’s the gully to negotiate and finally that horrendous, long, stony and narrow path down to Reeth. It’s like having the soles of your feet beaten with a bamboo stick. However, Paul doesn’t agree! He actually loves that last stretch – it’s ‘a buzz’, an adrenalin rush’! Clearly he was dropped on the head as a small baby! After his moment of excitement he came into view running down the road and finished in 5.02 – delighted and cramp-free. And cheered in by myself, Shaun and a bunch of Hartlepool Burn Road Harriers who had kept everyone at the Buck Inn amused all afternoon.

Is that a skirt, or 'skort', you're wearing there Jean? Very smart. Any chance of getting them made up in Striders colours I wonder ... that'd be a bit different for the Harrier League, eh? Just a thought ...

Striders had some excellent performances, including Nina coming in as 5th Senior lady. All in all it was a very pleasant day with considerable successes for the club. Back at Langthwaite, one of the marshals told me that 62 people hadn’t turned up to run, so if you fancy it next year and miss the entry in January, you can always register on the day.

Shaun adds: Tom Reeves was first Strider home, in a fantastic time of 3:55, having left his abdominal difficulties on the start line. I came in a couple of minutes later in 3:57, some 23 minutes faster than my previous best time, hugely faster than I’d expected. Nina was also much faster than the 4:15 she’d hoped for, and did a PB time of 4:02. Andrew Thompson, on a break from marathon running, got round in 4:30 or so, followed by Jan looking very strong in about 4:45, then Nigel on his first time out here in 4:50-ish. Dougie came in a tad under five hours, doing well with a twingey knee, and Stef wasn’t far behind having a good solid run, as did Pam’s Paul coming in soon after. Jean Gillespie came in just under the six-hour mark, and Maggie Thompson came in somewhere around six hours 30, recovering well after a bit of a fall, finishing with Barrie and Christine who had a romantic day out on the fells together. Great day on the hills! SR.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Matthew Hayes East Hull M 3:06
10 Heather Mochrie Unattached F 3:37
32 Thomas Reeves M 3:55
36 Shaun Roberts MV50 3:57
41 Nina Mason F 4:02
102 Andrew Thompson M 4:32
143 Jan Young FV40 4:47
146 Nigel Heppell MV50 4:50
165 Dougie Nisbet M 4:58
175 Paul Foster MV50 5:02
183 Stephanie Barlow F 5:06
274 Jean Gillespie FV40 5:58
295 Phil Layton M 6:18
304 Margaret Thompson FV40 6:25
305 Christine Farnsworth FV40 6:25
306 Barrie Evans MV50 6:25
374 Bob Layton MV50 7:05

426 finishers.
Striders Mens team 6th, Striders Womens team 14th, of 21.

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