Tag Archives: Tim Skelton

The Daphne Wagstaffe Memorial, Westpark (1st Shelter) 5k, St. Helier, Jersey, Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Tim Skelton

I’m not really one for parkrun tourism. If I’m on holiday, the thought of getting up at 730am to go find a local run doesn’t really appeal. Jane and I tend to go to bed later than normal because the kids stay up later….so it all makes parkrun a no no for us. This leads to me usually taking my trainers and going out for a run on an evening when the family is chilling prior to food etc.

The race routeOut of curiosity, I had checked if there were any races during our week away in Jersey (incidentally the birthplace of the prettiest of the Littlewoodi (the correct plural I think), Wendy)….and to my surprise the local running club was to hold a 5km race along the prom of St.Hellier.

We arrived back at our Airbnb an hour before the race which was a nice 1mile from the start. The Facebook page had just said “meet at the first shelter” which obviously meant nothing to me. Luckily the aforementioned Wendy knew all about this famous bus shelter so I was given a handy map. I didn’t ask how or why and assumed it was a weird local thing.

I jogged down the hill expecting to get there 15mins before the start at 6:30pm and totally misjudged it. I arrived 30 mins early and had that awkward decision about whether to go for a run or stay and meet the local club runners. I stayed and had a nice chat with a few. People filtered down and we all had to sign our names and get a hand written number, or old GNR number for our vests. Didn’t seem to matter as it was free.

At 6:45pm there was a photo shoot of some in attendance and a little speech by the organiser about the meaning behind the run. It was for a nice sounding lady called Daphne Wagstaff who had passed away a few years previously but had done a lot for the local running community.

Photo Shoot

The race started at 7pm in full sun and no wind. Gutted. I hate running in the sun. It was about 26c. I knew it would be flat though so decided to take it easy and not do anything stupid (which is hard for me!).

The 37 of us set off at quite a nice pace and quickly formed into the usual groups. I was at the back of the fast pack and we pounded along watching out for cyclists (who can be quite aggressive in these parts we had been warned) and the odd dog walker. The simple route was an out and back along the prom with the beach (and sun) to our left. I passed about 5 bricked shelters (so I’m glad Wendy knew which one was the special one) and picked up my pace to pass one chap who was being tracked by his wife on a bike. Up ahead we passed almost through a cafe and I eventually saw a friendly face smiling at at sign directing me to turn back. By now the fast lads had passed me on their way back and I had a decent gap between me and the next runner. But it was hot and my head knew what was going to come.

The elevation map of the route should be flat but there were key sections which where I had to jump over a grate or a curb and thus added mini hills of about 10cm. Nothing Fiona B or Stuart and his ladder would struggle with.

With about 1.5km left I started to really feel the heat (Have I mentioned that I hate heat!?). I’d been eating and drinking holiday food all week and probably wasn’t hydrated nearly enough for a parkrun paced race. I could see a female closing about 100m behind me so I had to focus on the bus shelter ahead….but to my horror it wasn’t THE shelter but a trick one to put me off. Onwards forged against the driving wind, rain and 1:4 hills. I wished! My feet were on fire and my eyes were blurring with sweat. I saw the shelter again….people were stood at it so I put my all into the last 100m to make sure I wasn’t passed by the closing lady. But once again I was betrayed by the shelter and it was just a trick! I had to crack on but I’d mentally gone. If I was a horse in the National the jockey would have just pulled me over to trot to the end to protect it from injury. I couldn’t do this! I was representing the Elvet Striders internationally and I could feel the weight of expectation on my drooped shoulders. By now the lady’s shadow was just in the corner of my vision. I knew I’d be beaten. I could actually see the finish now but with 50 yards to go I was passed by what turned out to be the female winner (she was actually second female but you can only win the trophy once and the other lady won it previously).

I passed the line to claps from the fast lot as the first Elvet Strider! I was happy to add to my tally of being the first in purple for my last 2 races (See Roof of England Fell Race).

We stayed around by the beach clapping in all the rest, much as we do up in Durham. The trophies were given out to the first new Male and Females from Jersey Spartan AC. This seemed a good idea as it enabled different to win it rather than just the same persons each year – it was a memorial run after all.

After the photos I popped down the steps to the beach, ran to the shore and jumped in!! Poppy and Fred met me there whilst Jane sunned herself on the beach.

This was a lovely local race with some fast runners and inclusive feel. 37 of us ran and nobody needed a GPS/OS map or more than 1 Marshall. I’d recommend the island and this race to everyone!

(Visited 25 times, 1 visits today)

Elvet Striders summer night out, Saturday, August 18, 2018

Tim Skelton

Bonjour from the other side of the pond …

Saturday 18th August (THIS SATURDAY) is this summer’s Elvet Striders night out at 7pm onwards.

I have booked a VIP area to start with in the Library, (formerly Varsity) (photos below).

Address: 46 Saddler Street, Durham, DH1 3NU

This is a social event. New and old members are openly invited. We don’t expect everyone to know everyone. The point is to turn up to a safe place and chat and get to know like minded people…..but also get to know the person behind the name/vest.

Dress code is whatever you want. Casual most likely. Students are away so it will be nice and quiet I think.

As you enter the pub, we have a VIP area straight away on the right up 2 steps. I’ve booked this for the purple army.

See below for photos of the pub front and our VIP area highlighted in yellow.

I hope to see you there from 7pm. They do food there if needed I think.

If we decide to move on en masse we can. But the point is to natter.

I will have Facebook and messenger. Get in touch via that if you are not sure or have any questions.

In mud, track and tarmac,

Tim
Social Secretary

(Visited 11 times, 1 visits today)

Roof of England Fell Race, Chapelfell Top, St John’s Chapel, Tuesday, July 17, 2018

AS / 7km / 400m

Tim Skelton

I’ve long been an armchair fell racer. I’ve done bits-and-bobs here and there (Swaledale Marathon being my biggest and favourite). I’ve also been a member of the Fell Runners Association for 2 years to try to motivate myself to get out there… They send out amazing magazines and a yearly calendar of events. But…. children, work, travel and laziness have prevented me from getting out onto the fells until I saw DFR offering the Roof of England Fell race. All the planets were in their right zodiac signs and I discovered that I was able to make it!

Weardale is one of, if not my favourite, of the dales…. maybe only beaten by Borrowdale and Swaledale. The drive over to St. John’s Chapel was stunning. Nobody was on the road and I thoroughly enjoyed the sweeping roads and views over the fells. I pulled up outside the public loos after driving past a couple of dozen chaps and lasses in their respective club vests. I saw Geoff in an alien vest and realised tonight he was one of the enemy. Geoff Davis (aka Yoda) has long been the club’s bastion of Fell running and puts on some great up and downhill training sessions. The plan for the night was to finish with Yoda in sight. I knew I’d been off the boil over the last few weeks so this was more about testing myself and seeing if my armchair love for fell running would develop into true love, as I suspected it might.

Much humming and haa’ing ensued and I decided to go full Mudclaw. It rained very heavily the night before but until then, we’d had a month or so of now’t but sun. The kit list was downgraded too from full FRA requirements to map, compass and whistle. Thank goodness, as I didn’t fancy carrying the full body cover, hat, gloves and water – a tad excessive for a 7km race.

I wandered across the road after a 200m warm-up through the village to meet the race director for our pre-race briefing. In total there were 46 of us from a wide range of clubs on the rocky start line. The fast lads (and lasses) had made their way to the front under the flags but the atmosphere was jovial and people were nattering away in the gorgeous summer’s evening light.

The race started at quite a pace but slowed slightly as it became almost single file up between stone walls moving very much in an upwards direction. After 1 mile I’d passed quite a number of my fellow fell runners (I think I can say that now) and we passed the first set of Marshalls wishing us well. After this, it was every man and woman for themselves. There was no route. Only point upward to Chapel Fell Top. Competitors could go any route their heart desired (imagine that at the GNR!) as long as they made the summit. This was much like the Durham three peaks challenge but no ladders would be of help here…

The terrain quickly became very steep. I was about 10m behind Yoda and I decided that this would be a good classroom to learn the ways of the force. Where he walked I walked. Where he picked up the pace, I picked up the pace. My legs were feeling good, I was loving the surroundings, but the grass and moss were getting higher and squishier respectively. There was no clear route and people were spread out across the Fell trying to find a route of least resistance. I kept swapping places with a Keswick AC and Derwent Valley runner over the next gruelling mile. It was great. I loved it but, my word, it hurt my calves. All of a sudden I thought I saw a “different” more direct route to Geoff’s and went off on my own…. sod the lesson plan, this was a race! It seemed to be the bed of peat bog (one which Elaine would probably try drink out of if the stories are true) but was now dried to a powdery black mush. We both rounded the Cairn together and turned back to decent down (down deeper and down) to the village once again.

Here it became a bit crazy in a very good way!! I’ve always loved going up hills (but they hurt)…. but LOVE running down…. it seems to play to my strengths. It sounds stupid writing it but I find it’s like a super fast game of chess. My brain works at 100mph working out where to place my feet. What’s safe? What’s not? Where will require a little jump and where will cause a bit of a squelch. I love this side of downhill running on trails (and now fells). It makes me feel very alive and following Geoff was certainly that.

He is obviously very good at this and I savoured the challenge of keeping up. I passed a couple of people with a, “you alright mate?”, who’d twisted and ankle (or 2) and flew down some sections with the grass whipping at my knees. It was hard work but on the thighs now. I loved it.

We passed the 1-mile left marshal and picked up the pace. My Strava said 6:30m/m over the next very rocky section. I’m really pleased about this as it was tough underfoot but was great fun. We went down with the dry stone walls blurring past us. My plan was to wait until 200m or so before the end and to kick on and pass. All was going well and I spotted my chance…. but stupidly I hesitated. I have no idea why, as I had more in my legs to give… Then the track changed and became single file only. I couldn’t pass. I debated going through the nettles but it seemed a bit silly as I’d already proved to myself that I was okay at this AS grading of Fell runs. (Fell races are all graded. Simply put, the first letter A-B-C, is for the grade in terms of steepness/complexity. The second letter, S-M-L is the length and I’ll let you work out what they stand for). This was an AS. Under 10km and carried a fair bit of elevation gain (400m).

We rounded the last corner with the flags in sight. I passed the finish line on the heels of Yoda and was met by an “oh I didn’t realise it was you chasing me!”

We cheered/clapped in the remaining runners and chatted about the race.

After a quick Lucozade in the Chatterbox cafe (apt name), we moved outside for the prizes. Andy the Race Director had put on a great spread of wine, beer and chocolate for the lucky winners. Strangely I got a spot prize for it being my first proper fell race.

Many then returned to the cafe for a treat… My chosen indulgence was a freshly cooked scone (rhymes with gone!), jam and cream. I sat with runners from other local clubs and just nattered. It was the perfect after race party in that respect.

The drive home was stunning. The sunset behind me made it look like the Gods were happy and putting on a show especially for us runners. Reds, oranges, yellows and amazingly, purples. This little Elvet Strider was one happy bunny after bounding down Chapel Fell Top at sun 7mins/mile.

I’d love to see many more Elvet Striders join me next year. It’s a fantastic race and at £5 on the day, what is there to lose?

 

(Visited 25 times, 1 visits today)

Keswick Half Marathon, Sunday, May 6, 2018

Tim Skelton

Over the past few years, there seems to have been an increase in the add-ons available when booking races. Tech t-shirts, medals, coasters etc…. The Keswick Half Marathon was no different (with t-shirts and slate coasters available) but a “pleasant” surprise was that they included a heatwave for free.

I thoroughly enjoyed last year’s race which I would easily describe as the most scenic and beautiful I’ve ever entered. It is very well organised with registration being held at the rugby club, 1 mile from the start at Portinscale. On paper, this sounds like a right pain but in reality, it adds to the atmosphere and enjoyment of the day. The race is limited to 1000 with some EotD.

As everyone streams along the path flanked by sheep and fields you can see everyone actively relaxing whilst they warm up. I spent the time strolling along with my wife, Jane, whilst Club shirt spotting. There seemed to be an awful lot of our usual XC enemy from the Poly. I knew this was going to be a very different affair but I had my heart set on beating as many of the red/black lot as possible.

The start was held just over Portinscale’s mini Humber Bridge. Many of the Purple Army congregated and nattered before the race with some of the Bob Graham Round support team also in attendance to wish us well on the tarmac. All of a sudden the race director seemed to be counting down from 10 and we were off…. very little warning.

The initial mile winds through the village past a lot of parked cars and supporters. It reminds me a little of the start of the cash-cow that is the Blaydon race.

After we break free from the houses the race follows a lovely road enveloped by trees. It gave us respite from the direct sunshine. My phone had said 21C as we started and it was only going to get hotter. (I hate the heat! I might mention that again later, a few times!).

We passed my friends waving in Swinside and made our way up the first horrid little hit past the adventure centre. From here until mile 10 there was no tree cover. That was it….sun sun sun. I had predicted it so hydrated a lot and covered myself in lots of sun cream.

I know this area like the back of my hand and this is one of the reasons I keep coming back and will probably do so next year. The roads are quiet for the first third of the race. Our Scottish dynamo, Allan, then overtook me at the start of THAT hill on mile 5. By then I’d realised I had totally underestimated how crap I was in the sun and gone off too quickly. I love hills….but not hills with no breeze and in this heat. I was struggling and annoyed with myself already. My head always lets me down in these situations and I knew it was going to be a very tough 8 miles from now on. At the top of the hill, there was a big animal trough with fresh water running into it from a stream….in went my head and arms to try to cool down (I hate being hot!). This provided much respite and I sped up for the next mile.

The views opened up with a stunning vista across the water. The problem now was that every walker in the NW lakes seemed to know this too and there were cars and vans parked all over.

The issue of it being an open road race didn’t really bother me last year but because of the long weekend and sun, everyone seemed to have made their way to the side of Catbells. The sun was belting down now and like a newborn baby, I was struggling to control my temperature. Suddenly I saw a mini waterfall and jumped under it…..then Penny passed. This was on 7 miles. I tried to talk myself into following her for as long as I could but I just didn’t have it in me.

The views around were simply stunning though so I just decided to take them in and plod along as best I could. Originally I had a target of 1:45hrs but this was downgraded to 1:50hrs due to the heat.

As mentioned earlier, the organisation for this race is excellent. In total there were 7 water stations (1 of which was put on last minute by a local hotel). These tables were very much needed and I dread to think what would happen if there were fewer. The smiley volunteers must have been sweltering as they greeted us with the cold water (I have no idea how they managed to keep it thus).

As I crossed the final section from Grange to Keswick I was met by someone shouting “Come on Tim, Penny is just ahead of you!!” I have no idea who it was and we all think it was just some friendly chap who had noticed the purple named vests. It did spur me on and although it wasn’t a fast 3 miles along the road to Keswick, I did manage to feel stronger than the previous year. (Being in shade did help).

The final section took us into the town centre and past all the day visitors.

One helpful local lad stood with a hosepipe squirting us all on the final few hundred yards. At this point, I slowed to run with a couple of fellow runners when I heard them say, “I cannot do this anymore. It’s too hot!”.

Unfortunately, by doing this it allowed one of the red/black enemy to pass me with only 200 yards to go. I left it until about 80 yards and left my new found friends and sprinted to overtake the Poly runner. Luckily I took him with 10 yards to go and finished in a sluggish 1:54:38 (6 mins slower than last year).

I was met by a smiling Stuart Scott some 10 hours after his successful Bob Graham Round! Gareth was also there basking in the glory (and sun) of coming second in an amazing 1:21:19.

This is what I love about the Club….regardless of our individual speeds, successes and pace, we all support each other and wear our purple with pride.

Jane finished in a very respectable 2:37hrs in her first proper race of length as an Elvet Strider, shortly after Anna, Catherine and Andrew.

I’ll be back next year. It’s too pretty a route not to….I just hope I get some drizzle next time. I’d love to think that more Elvet Striders could join us!! It’s a fantastic day out.

 

PositionAct TimeSurnameFirst nameCatSex
101.13.30Arthur
Blackburn Harriers
ChrisM
2101.32.38Rich
Steel City Striders
JenniferF
201.21.19PritchardGarethM
7101.42.12RenwickAllanV45M
14501.50.09BrowellPennyV45F
20501.54.38SkeltonTimM
24601.57.44RaynerAndrewM
33102.06.07BradleyJeanV60F
36602.08.53DaviesAndrewV40M
50602.23.06SeeleyAnnaV35F
50702.23.06SmithCatherineV40F
61302.37.05SkeltonJaneV35F
62202.40.11FarnsworthChristineV65F
67802.52.42BrownVickyV35F
(Visited 13 times, 1 visits today)

Keswick Half Marathon, Keswick, Cumbria, Sunday, April 30, 2017

13.1 miles

Tim Skelton

I love Keswick. It seems to have everything an outdoorsy family would want. I’ve been going there every year since I was born so now my wife and I use any excuse to take our 2 there to explore and be outside. When I saw the Keswick Half Marathon pop up on my Facebook suggested events I was on it in a shot. I know the area very well so that would surely be an advantage?

 

The race was a lovely flat (cough) route starting at the rocky swing bridge at Portinscale. (see elevation image). The route was an anti-clockwise traverse around Derwent water with an added loop in Newlands to get the mileage up to 13.1.

 

We set off at home early doors with the plan to arrive in the centre of Keswick to collect my number for 10:30am. The race started at a very respectable time of 11:30am which was another tick in the box for me. I hate early races! I find the hydration/getting food on board very hard for early morning races. We arrived in good time and had a wander over to the Rugby club who were hosting the race to raise fund for their development teams (they also have an amazing beer festival in June which is fantastic) – the finish line was at the centre of their rugby pitches. There was a slight haze overhead and the sun was shining but there was a biting blustery wind. The race limit was 1000 so I was expecting a good buzz around the club and I was not disappointed. Everyone was wandering around in club colours and “active wear”. Once I collected my number it was time to pass on my Purple hoodie to my wife and go for a nice 1 mile warmup to the start line. This actually worked out really well as it forced everyone into a proper warmup be it a nice walk or run.

 

The start was bang on 11:30am and took everyone through the village of Portinscale which was full of lots of supporting friends and family. There was a great friendly feel about this race which developed over the course. I met the same people throughout as I passed them and they passed me back. Plenty of local and NE club runners were out in force so there was a good air of camaraderie.

 

The first hills came quite quickly and I was met by family in Newlands as I started a nice pacey down hill section…..as we all know about these nice bits though is that they are usually met by something to take you back up again….and after 15mins I was met by one hell of a hill and a very steep ascent. There was little time to strap on my oxygen bottle I had to just go for it. The air by now had warmed up but it was still very blustery in parts. The hill kept on coming as if it was toying with us. It even added in some tight corners to throw us off our stride. By now I was passing quite a few people as I love my hills. I did suspect this might come back and bite me on the bum but I was enjoying myself too much to worry about the latter part of the race. I figured the Lucozade tablets I was carrying would do the trick….as long as I had something left for a sprint finish I didn’t really care.

 

Although this was a road race, it was not closed to traffic. A motorbike decided it wanted to  tootle down the single track road we were on. Shouts of “MOTORBIKE!” cascaded along the line to ensure nobody got squished (although it was only crawling along). Then we hit the 4th and 5th big hill sections…I say this because all in all my Garmin counted about 19 in total. These were massive in terms of the rate of ascent. I got on my tiptoes and pushed on trying to pretends in my head it was only as big as the DLI hill but in reality this was a monster. At the top we were met by smiling families and locals shouting their encouragement, many strangely wearing hats made of flowers (I think this was related to May day the next day).

 

Once on the top the views were simply amazing. Anyone who know the area will love the vista from the side of Catbells looking down onto Borrowdale. The sun was shining through the slight haze and all the peaks were visible. This section was a long downhill aiming to take us into Grange and across onto the main road back up to Keswick. I knew the last 4-5 miles would be tough but I was enjoying the race for the now. I cannot imagine there is a prettier race out there. The views all around were simply stunning and there was plenty of opportunity to take them all in as it was on road and not trail.

 

After we passed through Grange we turned left and we knew it was a long road back up to Keswick. This is the bit I wasn’t really looking forward to as I knew it was a long slow incline with traffic all the way to the finish. In reality it was horrid but everyone seemed to club together at this point with words of encouragement and support. I imagine only the elite runners had good legs after 10 miles so I just had to knuckle down and get on with it….although this is never my strong point. At the 10 mile point there was a shout of “only a parkrun left!” and we all seemed to up out game a tad.

 

The last mile took us into the south side of Keswick and round the rugby club where I knew my family and Neil Sleeman would be waiting. There was no chance of being the first strider home today. After seeing him on the DT20 I knew he’d have finished long ahead of me. I always look forward to the finishes. It is my motivation through much of the latter part of races. Finish strong, take as many people out with my sprint finish as possible. Here I knew I would have the added incentive of my kids and wife being there cheering me on. I rounded the corner and put my food down as soon as I hit the grass. There was a very loud tannoy with a woman shouting encouragement. I managed to stretch my legs and not trip up (always a worry) and pass about 6-7 people in the last 50 yards.

 

Once I caught my breath I was given a really nice white tech tshirt, a banana, bottle of water and some shortbread. All quite decent for the £15 it cost me to enter. A lot cheaper than many of our other local half marathons and 4 times cheaper than the most famous half marathon in the world ™. Excellent value and I cannot recommend this race enough. Yes it is hilly. Yes it hurt my legs but the views and 4-5 water stations made up for that.

 

Well done to Neil (pictured) who finished in an amazing 1:29 and Jean Bradley in 1:53:54.

 

 

 

 

 

Tim Skelton – 198/683 – 1:48:23

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