Race Rundown: South Shields Winter Trail 5k, 2nd February 2020

South Shields Winter Trail 5k

Sunday 2nd February 2020

Always beware a smiling Pete. As Helen and I have a little jog to warm up, Peter and Paul running in the opposite direction pass, and Pete smiles and says those fateful words – ‘You’ll do a rundown for this one won’t you Sue?’ He then jogs off, so even if you could think of an excuse, he is no longer there to hear it.

So here goes.

A 5k trail race. Meet at the White Horse pub. All sounds fairly tame. After all, it’s just like a parkrun. So why at the end was everyone saying ‘that was tough’?

It all started so well. The first positive was there wasn’t a queue at the toilets. A major bonus for the nervy runner. A quick warm up with Helen, and then off to the start. Everyone was very friendly. One of the regulars described the route; steep climb, quarry and steps were mentioned but I put those to the back of my mind. There was only a small group of runners and the race official gave the Sedgefield Harriers a special mention and a round of applause, which was lovely.

Normally I run with my head down watching where I am going, the joy of wearing varifocals, but as Pete had asked me to write the blog I thought I had better try and look up occasionally and take in my surroundings. So after a flat start, I negotiated the horse/cycle/pedestrian barrier – I went for the pedestrian route whilst others did a bunny hop over the horse barrier – turned right and right again and into the quarry. At the far end we climbed back out up a muddy path and then across grassland up hill to the top. Here the route opened out with a great view. I glanced back to see the sea and then caught sight of a majestic brick water tower off to the left. Then more importantly I could see the line of Sedgefield Harriers in front of me……Ian, Chris, Dave, Mike, Paul. My target was Mike as he is in my division, but he was a long way ahead. Still we are not half way round yet, so I’ll try and keep in touch.

At the far end of the park we dropped down a muddy path, a left, a right, then right again up a steep hill. I can see some people walking ahead so I try and keep running to gain some time, but eventually I decide walking will be quicker. Then the path drops down and we reach the start line via a set of steps. Then its round again for lap two.

I manage to pass Paul in the quarry and he shouts some encouragement to ‘go and catch Mike’ who is up ahead. Mike has started to walk up the hill out of the quarry but has a sneaky look back, sees me and accelerates. In my head I shout ‘wait for me Mike’. When I reach the highest point I can see the Harriers ahead but they are now a bit more spread out. Oh well, I’ll try and keep Mike in my sights.

Legs beginning to hurt now and breathing’s more difficult but nearly there. I drop down onto the bottom path. Slightly confused. Dave Walker is walking one way; Abbie is running the other way; then my brain kicks in – Dave has finished and is walking back to encourage Abbie, who is in the home straight and I have to go to the right and back up the hill and then down the steps! As I turn up the hill I see Pete in the distance; I bet he is still smiling! As I run along towards the finish I can still see Mike but the points are going to be his. But I am happy with myself for not giving up.

I cross the line, to cheers of encouragement from my fellow Harriers – the best bit of any race. Lots of discussion about it being tough, a varied route, slippery under foot – so it wasn’t just me. I shake Mike’s hand – maybe next time?

We turned to watch Helen. She had a good sprint finish and then the reason became apparent as she was being followed by two huge horses, luckily with riders.

So all the Harriers were safely round. After the team photo some went off for more running along the coast. I was happy to head back to Sedgefield with Paul and Helen and to celebrate with a hot shower and breakfast.

Results: http://runeatsleep.co.uk/winter-trails-february-2020/ 

by Sue Dobson.

Rundown: Harriers Training Weekend, 22nd -24th February 2019

Helmsley YHA

Sixteen of us arrived in a sunny Helmsley by train, car, bike and on foot for the annual training weekend. A combination of seasoned Mount Hooley attendees and first timers, the group was pleased to find a comfortable youth hostel on the edge of Helmsley, well equipped, warm and quiet. 

As Chris and I had arrived just in time for dinner last year, we made an effort to get there earlier and took the afternoon off work. Chris cycled down from Greatham and I drove down arriving about 3pm. I thought training had better get under way, so I had a quick look at google maps and headed out of the village on the Cleveland Way towards Riveaulx. A tarmac path soon turned into a field edge path and then a wonderful up and down route through woods. Once I reached the road I doubled back, clocking up 5.5 miles. A great start to the weekend. We all went to The Feathers for an evening meal. I was the only one to have a pudding (dark chocolate and orange brownie, with white chocolate sauce and ice cream, in case your’re wondering) but I was the only one who had done any running!

Saturday morning started with a ‘pacey’ run. With Tracy as our leader, we headed out of the village for a 6 mile loop . A beautiful still morning we saw roe deer and lots of pheasants. A steep hill slowed the pace and the challenge of hill reps was politely declined. Nice try Tracy! Once we got back to the youth hostel Mil and John headed off for another 30 minutes, getting the prize for ‘commitment to training’.

Once we had showered and refuelled the majority of us set off for a walk, taking full advantage of the glorious countryside that surrounds Helmsley. We covered 7.5 miles across fields and through woods. Normally at training we may only have chance to have a quick chat to fellow Harriers, so this was a great opportunity to talk to people. John (Marshall) is a keen bird watcher so could help us identify various birds including magnificent buzzards, waiting to pick off any weaker members of the group.  

In the evening a number of the group headed off to the Brewery to watch the rugby and then everyone refuelled – some getting takeaways and some having home cooked food. Mike (Wood) won the prize for ‘commitment to eating’, managing to consume a family steak and ale pie from the artisan bakers. The men then settled in for an evening of poker and whiskey drinking – luckily playing for chips not coins. 

Sunday dawned sunny again. Another walk was planned but three of us headed off – Phil to Wem-ber-ley (a football match, which apparently the right team won on penalties); Chris cycling 50 miles home; and I headed off to Stockton to run in the Winter Trail Series as part of the Grand Prix. All in all the weekend was great fun with great company. 

And the final prize for ‘commitment’ goes to Sue (Round) for her unwavering ‘commitment to shopping’. She set off before us and came back after us – who knew there were that many shops in Helmsley? Don’t worry Sue, there will be another pair of bargain Gabor blue shoes. 

By Sue Dobson