Race Rundown: Tour de Helvellyn, 21st December 2019

A Nav4 Adventure event. 38 miles, 2000 metres climb.

Well here I am once again, and would just like to thank Peter King for this privilege 😇…….. This event started back in June /July time when Mr Thwaites managed to twist my arm once again 😂😂 plus Justin Cox had forgotten he had entered mid summer. I’m sure he wasn’t trying to get out of it ?????

It was going to be a next step up in my running adventures with mileage and terrain. I didn’t think much about it til looking at the kit list and thinking I was short on a few things…… so over the summer I pulled it all together. As the date drew closer, travel plans fell into place which was great as Gary and Aaron (Gary’s friend) were picking me up on route so feet up all the way. Talk on the way over was about the route … and hoping not to get lost with all those hills and turns. It helped that Gary and myself had run over that way in the summer so I had the route in my head. I was just hoping there would be no snow or much fog, which would have made things a little interesting????

Once we had arrived at Askham, things seemed to turn out bad from the start as the car sank into the mud where we had to park. After helping three cars out we chanced it and left ours there til Saturday evening (just what you need after an ultra) but luckily things weren’t that bad on the night and it pushed out very easily……. As we signed in the village hall I had a flashback and realised I had been here previously with Chris Lines, Diane Baines and Doreen in an event called the Grand Day Out back in 2016 after all the floods. That was a tough 10 miler and I still think about my favourite Berghaus gloves I lost there….. But on the bright side a bit of relief as it was part of the course which we had not run in the summer so hopefully it would come back to me.

So as we were sleeping in the hall we set up camp, sleeping bags and air bed …..”how first class we roll !“. But it makes part of the whole weekend. All set up we popped to one of the local pubs to carb up and hydrate so they say ???

Saturday morning arrived and lights in the hall came on around 6am to the smell of freshly made porridge and coffee: right up my street…… Once fuelled and packed away people were arriving and the atmosphere started to build. People could set off from 7am but you couldn’t pass a certain checkpoint before 9:30am which was around 10 miles away so we decided 8am would be a better time to start, plus it gave time for the sun to rise a little more. Once you had your kit checked off you passed though the side door, they scanned you off and you were on your way up the road like wild sheep heading in the same direction; only around 40 miles to go….

With only three miles in I was hot hot hot with all the gear we had to carry and waterproof jacket. “Good time for a photo!” We had the weather gods with us as the previous weekend was very different… As you could guess the route was very hilly but with the fantastic views you could forgive them for now !!!!!

As I ran towards the first climb, which I knew from the summer, it all became real 😳. Proper hills these hills, up and over I went but remembering the down hills are just as fun !!!!! You had to be careful watching your footing in places. Checkpoint passed then onto Glenridding to the one climb which stuck in my head from the summer …….Sticks Pass which is a killer ….. time for another photo but this was where I found out my gloves were very hard to put back on. So much for expensive clothes, so I put the photos on hold!!!!

Once up (and I mean up the pass) it was foggy and was starting to try its best to rain …. !! Great, good job I didn’t need to take a map bearing…..thanks to my gps watch working as it should (but I had to keep quiet about it as only map readers allowed on this event 😂😂) The watch and I did help a few out, guiding the way, while up on the top though. And no I didn’t feel like I was one of the wise men! I know it’s Christmas 😂😂😂 Sometimes technology does have its place.

Coming off the top was another great experience; legs burning as you tried your best to come down with grace …. Half way down, these so called fell runners showed me how to do it!!! But there was no chance I was throwing myself down the hill….. Once down all in one piece (only two slips) I scanned in with the marshal at the bottom and off around to the next main checkpoint, a very gnarly path which caught me out quite a few times so took it easy here. Another checkpoint, water bottles filled and away off down a forest road where you could have a run before coming to another sweet climb!!!! NOT ! It was straight up a rocky climb which was very slippery but halfway up I met Santa 🎅 . Go on then, photo time ….. but again, my gloves took a good half hour to pull back on while climbing up and over the top.

See, see I did see SANTA…… but he wasn’t under the bloody Christmas tree…. He was half way up a sodding great big hill” !!!!!

I should have taken a left turn to follow the path down…… but no……. I followed two lads straight over the top and down the other side which was hard and daft as I hit knee-deep bogs and a few big holes to boot….. but it seemed a faster route and it took me to the bridge where everyone was heading. You could do this if you knew the ways…. but I wouldn’t do that again !!! “Stick to your route!”

The miles were building up now and the body seemed okay. I kept up the fuelling and just had to keep moving forward, The main plan was for me was to be over the last climb (which was also the first as we went back the way we came) before sunset as I didn’t fancy doing it in the dark …… so at the last main checkpoint, I grabbed a coffee, swapped my gloves, put head touch in pocket, filled water bottles and was back up ready for action. Plus, I even had chance to check in with Boss back at home as I had a phone signal. It didn’t go to plan though as she thought I had finished but I still had another 10 more miles to go. The response was not great but I’m sure that’s called positive encouragement 😂😂.

Up and over all safely done… nice one. Now for a little run along the farm road back to the church and a turn back along towards Pooley Bridge – a long uphill slog. Now as the day passed and darkness had fallen I slowed it a little as the path was a minefield for trips and falls – so close now to the end I had to be sensible. With around 3 miles to the finish this was where you had to remember where to turn as in the past it had caught a few out and I didn’t fancy any free extra miles…. But all was good heading for home, footing better for a little run, passing people “yes passing!” At this stage of the race I must have had the famous Joe’s soup in my head; “not far now” I thought but that thought was longer than before, now it was dark.

Down, back in Askham and the village hall in sight, all lit up, I was like a moth heading to the flame. It was a great feeling. Through the door, scanned back in safe and well, handed a nice new buff and a slip of paper with my time. In the hall it was all tables set with food and Joe’s soup… I was greeted with handshakes all round by Gazza and his friends (who I’ve met in the past, a great group from Peterlee Runners). After a quick change and a good feed, I headed to the pub next door for my sixth pint of the year!!! (now back in double figures) The pub was like an oven so off we went to the Golden Arches for a fill and a milkshake: good call 👍👍.

Rising the next morning….. (well you could say rise) we fell out of our sleeping bags and made tracks for home ….. But just one small stop off; the café that probably everyone drives past over the A66 on the top. Full English all around… “cherry on the cake” 😁

So to sum the weekend up: great event, well organised, great volunteers, marshalled in places where needed. If you’re thinking of fell running or walking out in the hills I can see why the equipment and gear is important as conditions could have been very different.

https://www.nav4.co.uk/ : if you’re looking for something different for 2020, some good looking events.

Also well done to Gary and Justin as they both ran fantasticall, plus the lads from Peterlee. Thanks again Aaron for the lift .

And a MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, HERE’S TO A GREAT 2020

 

(ps my legs the day after feel great…. honest ). RAY out 🙋🏼‍♂️🎤.

 

Results: http://results.opentracking.co.uk/event/tdh2019?fbclid=IwAR2cWOcog7PxANlt5vQZ0NqYGYIN_xsrZKnJ1O8CnY8PN80jXMK054YjYdA

 

Race Rundown: Loftus Poultry Run, 15th December 2019

by Clair Walker

When I saw the Poultry Run website it was advertised as a friendly run, with, as is always important to me, no cut off time – sounded right up my street. The day before the run a fellow volunteer at parkrun told me “it’s a hard run, you run uphill for ages but once you get to the farm its all downhill from there”, had I bitten off more than I could chew? Hopefully Sheree’s hill training through the summer would put me in good stead.

Sunday morning was cold, very cold, after scraping the ice off my car I almost bottled it. I was very tempted to finally join the steady Sunday morning run at Wynyard which I’ve been wanting to join for ages but never managed to get there. Luckily I’m a Yorkshire lass and had paid so I was going, plus there was a T-Shirt with my name on it – I do love a free T-Shirt.

Driving towards Saltburn I noticed several cars driving in the opposite direction with their roofs covered in a good couple of inches of snow. Should I have checked the website before leaving, do they cancel for snow? I had no idea.

On arriving at Loftus leisure centre a friendly marshal directed me into the housing estate to try and find a parking space. Parking space found I started a precarious walk back down to the start, I felt like Bambi on ice; my sense of balance is never the best, should I be wearing trail shoes? Running was going to be fun when I struggled to walk.

All doubts were put to one side as I arrived at the start, Christmas music blasting, loads of runners dressed up in Christmas paraphernalia and a lovely atmosphere I was glad I came but definitely felt underdressed in my Harriers vest. I knew there were more Harriers competing but didn’t spot any vests as I took my usual place at the very back as the race was started.

The initial climb was through the housing estate where several people were out to cheer the runners on, a great spectacle of runners dressed in all sorts of weird, wonderful and festive costumes. The climb continued, at one point I overtook a woman dressed in an inflatable cow outfit, whilst another runner asked if she could mooove out of the way, bet she heard that a few times over the 8 mile course.

I find it difficult to recall the exact route of the course as I tend to be more of a one foot in front of the other, repeat, kind of runner.  It definitely involved quite a bit of climbing and every time I looked up I could just see the masses of runners in the distance still climbing. Every time we came to a farm I prayed this was the one I had been told about prior to the descent. After about 4 miles we turned off through a farmland track and here the mud was so thick I had to walk in order to keep myself upright and most seemed to be on the same wavelength. The ground soon firmed up and we were running along the icy fields. At one point we ran past a waving family who had built a snowman to help cheer us on.

We joined a country road and here the scenery was lovely, white fields to either side and the sea in the distance. At this point I was talking to a runner from South Shields who commented how lucky we were to be running in a winter wonderland. At last we seemed to be going downhill I’m always a slightly nervous downhill runner and the ice didn’t help matters. Soon we were at the five-mile point, only a parkrun left and I was still feeling surprisingly fresh.

The descent began in earnest back through the estate and to the finish. The last 2 miles were all downhill so I decided it was time I just enjoyed it, if I fell over I no longer cared.  Anyone who knows me will know that falling down is a pastime of mine especially after a drink or two. Running the last part of the race I overtook a giant Christmas pudding – what an achievement.

With the finish line in sight I even managed a bit of a sprint finish, a lovely friendly challenging run and I loved it. I will definitely be back next year and have promised to make a bit more effort with my outfit.

Well done to my fellow Harriers who completed the run, they were probably enjoying their fish and chips by the time I crossed the line.

Race Rundown: Town Moor Marathon, 17th November 2019

Not sure where to start really as the Town Moor marathon was on my mind for most of the year. I love NEMC races and the Town Moor is no different. I know some don’t fancy the prospect of a 7-lap marathon, but I don’t mind. It never feels too lonely when you are out running for hours and you get to see the same lovely marshals loads of times! Also, it’s a lot easier to organise.

Why Town Moor and why try and run 100 marathons? Well, the Town Moor was the first marathon I ever enjoyed. Removing all the pressure of a big event proved brilliant for me. I knew I had to run a certain pace to hit my time goal, but my previous marathons saw me shoot off way too fast then suffer badly for the last 10K. It was a light bulb moment in pacing, which has served me well over the years. Also, I found my bunch of people. All walks of life from all over the world, but we share a love of running marathons. My 100th marathon had to be on the Town Moor.

I did not plan on going for my 100th marathon in 2019, but I wanted to try and raise some money for Get Kids Going. I thought I might struggle to raise donations for charity, so I needed a bigger challenge. I did the maths and if all went well then completing my 100th looked possible.

I know the drill during the build up to a marathon, so a lot of things just took care of themselves, but I did find myself getting nervous. It’s all I was thinking about and pretty much all I was talking about too. I had some fantastic messages of support. I even had a shout out from my favourite podcast courtesy of David Bentley! That really did take me by surprise. Thanks for doing that David. I was blown away with all the support.

I did my usual check of the weather and got my kit sorted for the next day. Forecast was canny. A windy day on the Moor would have been miserable and no fun for anyone. It rained a bit, but for November I think we got lucky.

I never get used to waking in the Dark. I had a rubbish sleep and could have snoozed for ages. No time for hanging around though. I stopped dragging the kids to marathons a long time ago. It’s not much fun for them. Hanging around for ages while I run, the early starts are miserable too. Lisa was coming up to cheer me on and marshal, so the kids had to come. They seemed fine and in good spirits when I saw them every lap. I think the steady supply of hot chocolate from the café helped distract them…

We parked up in Jesmond and walked through the tunnel to registration. I was supposed to be helping with registration, so I grabbed a high viz vest and took my position. I didn’t stay on registration long as they had lots of help. However, I was on it long enough to notice lots of familiar Harrier names! At first, I didn’t think much of it apart from it would be great to catch up with people, but there was a lot more than I was used too for a NEMC race. Then I started to see everyone arrive. I have to say it was such a lovely surprise. I don’t get over to Sedgefield much these days and I really miss the community and the sessions. I noticed a pic of me attached Melanie’s back which made me laugh. Well, until I saw loads of them and kept seeing them all morning… It was weird! I managed to come home with a large stash of the picture too!

I have shared quite a few miles with Ray over the years and I really wanted to run with him today too. We even have Razza and Gazza marathon club vests 😊 I represented all my clubs that day. First few laps in my NEMC vest then finish off in my Sedgefield vest and I wore my run Peterlee buff. Three great local clubs. Justin said he would stay with us once he lapped us, so he shot off and myself, Ray, Paula and Rosie set off together. The run itself went well. We chatted all the way, I kept stopping for toilets breaks and jelly babies. Ray had made me a Gazza drinks cup 😊 and the steady stream of Harriers who kept appearing and running with us was a real treat. It was nice to see a few PBs for the half marathon. Great running everyone!

Who would you choose to be with in a zombie apocalypse?

Good to his word once Justin caught us, he stayed with us. Like Ray, Justin and I have become good friends over the years and travelled to quite a few races together. We’ve run together over longer distances, but I can’t usually keep up with him over the marathon distance. It was great to finish the marathon with these two. The race was great. We chatted all the way and finished comfortably under 4 hours. Constantly bumping into Harriers really helped. The miles and miles always feel better when you can have a chat.

George wanted to run to the finish with me. He was waiting for me at the pond and we ran to the finish together. We both loved it. I don’t normally go for stuff like that, but it was such a special moment to share with George. The finish was the best finish to any race ever! To see everyone making a tunnel for us to run through was amazing and a lovely thing to do.

After the race we all gathered for some photos. Ray produced some marathon chocolate bars, which went down lovely with a brew once I got home. We then went to the café for a coffee and cake. Unfortunately, the cafe wouldn’t let us eat the cake, but we managed to make our way through it all the following week at cross country.

Ray presented me with a lovely card with loads of lovely messages from Harriers. It was great to read them all and something I’ll cherish forever. I love my 100-marathon t-shirt and bracelet too. Also, a load of money for the Get Kids Going Charity! Thank you all so much.

I have to say I was taken back with all the generosity and kindness that day. I have seen the group chat, so I know all the effort that has gone on behind the scenes to make the day so special. A big thank you to everyone! I won’t try and list everyone because I would hate to miss anyone out, but an extra special shout out to Ray. I’m sure most of you remember him and his tractor helping at XC a few years ago. He achieved legend status that day. Well, Ray is truly the best of us. I often have a chat with my son about what and who would I like with me if there ever was a zombie apocalypse. Well, Razza would be first on the list. Nailed on he’ll have coffee and chocolate.

Thanks to all the marshals who gave up a massive chunk of their Sunday, thanks for NEMC for another great event and big shout out to my long-suffering wife Lisa who marshaled too. I even bagged a kiss every lap. She made cake too, so we have eaten a lot of cake lately.

by Gary Thwaites.

Results – http://www.racetecresults.com/results.aspx?CId=16685&RId=16

Race Rundown: Gavin Duffy Memorial 5k, 24th November 2019

Trail shoes, cross country spikes, road shoes and football boots(!) were all around as I lined up for the Muddy Roads 5k race in memory of Gavin Duffy (Billingham Marsh House).  Caught up in the euphoria of completing the muddy cross country the previous day, I was encouraged by Ray to take part. David would pick me up so I was fast running out of excuses.

I’d never taken part in a Muddy Roads event so didn’t really know what to expect.  They operate a similar system to Parkrun with a barcode procedure being used so entry on the day was really straightforward.

After a minute’s silence for Gavin we were off.  It was quite a narrow and frantic start and I felt comfortable in the footwear choice as the runners in spikes darted off to the side to find some softer ground. I remember Ray mentioning there is a tight turn coming up and it gets congested which was why I suddenly felt him breathing down my neck. First tight left turn reached and my mild smugness regarding the footwear choice soon evaporated. The next section involved some serious mud and the spiked runners disappeared into the distance and away up the hill!

We’d been warned about the “slippery bit” on the downhill section of the hill which was soon upon me. Slipping and sliding around the corner like a cross country skier I was free from the ankle deep mud into just mud. One kilometre further along you started to pass some of the runners at the bottom of the hill (words/grunts of encouragement were exchanged) before turning towards the finish to start another lap and more mud (have I mentioned that yet?).

The finish was a friendly affair just like a Parkrun, with everyone queuing to have their barcode scanned, before Team Sedgefield (Lisa, Graham, David, Ray and myself) showed the others a clean pair of heels and headed to the visitors centre for the lovely finishers’ cake.

Well this was my first but certainly won’t be my last Muddy Roads event. It was well organised, friendly and great value for money. It was lovely to hear that over £700 was raised for local charities from the event.

*So how did the football boots fare I hear you ask? Well unfortunately I don’t know if they were the right choice of footwear (1st place went to spikes with wellies in second), so if anyone wants to give them a go, let us all know how you get on!

Thanks to Karen Harland for the pictures.

By Mark Raine

Results: http://trailraces.co.uk/results.php?event=27&race=74

Race Rundown: Slaley Hall 10k, 17th November 2019

Scrolling through Facebook I noticed that my good friend Andy Corfied had entered a 10k trail race to be held at Slaley hall. With my interest piqued I mentioned it at parkrun and with only modest arm twisting I was persuaded to enter.

The event is organised by Wild Deer events and is a multi terrain 10k trail race.

Andy and I travelled up on a very wet Sunday morning and met up with Karen Killingly there. We had arrived early, but killing time wasn’t an issue as we sat in the car park watching the concept of one way traffic destroyed, culminating in an amusing messy soft verge incident and exasperated officials.

Once the floor show had finished. It was time to address the ‘which shoes to wear?’ issue. With my spanking new Inov8 Trailtalons selected we made our way to the hall to collect our numbers and join the gathering athletes on the start line. On the start line a runner tells his friend he’ll be happy with sub 60 and I concur. That’s my target for today. The rain had mercifully stopped as we listened to the race briefing. The first time I’ve been asked not to make a mess of a golf course at a briefing.

The rain may have stopped, but as the race started it was clear it was going to be a clarty affair. The first 3 km was a steady climb. I took it very steady, being unsure of my own fitness or what to expect on the route. A short section of tarmac became a forestry road, then narrowing trails. The Trailtalons were awesome. A little further though and it was a different story. With a clarty mashed up field to cross the pace slowed and the Trailtalons were now diving boots coated in swarfega and ball bearings. Relief came in the form of another hard trail and at the top we enjoyed a long decent stretch through pine woods with what turned out to be the last of the serious clart on the other end.

A very enjoyable and rapid decent followed, along the edge of the golf course. As I ran I couldn’t help but wonder at who was daftest, us or the golfers hunched under their brollies and bags of golf bats. They were possibly as puzzled, but were very vocal and supportive.

We’ve reached about 6km now and it’s now a rollercoaster of very steep ups and downs for another 2km. We hit tarmac at 8km and with the scent of the finish in my nostrils I get a bit of a move on along this road. This turned out to be a cruel prank on the part of the organisers as a smiling marshal directed me back onto the clart for another 500m of ups and downs to 9km. From here in I can see that it’s an unrelenting climb back to the hall and I’m regretting my earlier exuberance. Still it’s nearly over and the Inov8s are returning to normal service. It’s a real slog in now and I don’t want to look at my watch at this point. There are a few more cruel twists and turns to negotiate before the now visible finish line can be reached, but I do in 57.27 and all of a sudden the world is a much nicer place.

Karen, Andy and myself regroup and adjourn to the hall for a well earned T shirt and sausages sandwich.

All in all a hard but very interesting route, well marshalled and organised. I’ll definitely give it another go. Thanks Andy and Karen for your great company.

By Paul Lee.

http://www.timingupnorthresults.co.uk/results.aspx?CId=16576&RId=6013

Race Rundown: Middlesbrough Mile, 6th November 2019

I am increasingly aware that my daughter will now beat me over any distance less than 5km (and after her 2 min parkrun PB at the weekend I’ll extend it to now include 5km). For now I’m safe in 10km and above, mainly because she’s too young to enter those distances. So when the Middlesbrough Mile gave Ellie an opportunity to have bragging rights over me (again) I was very surprised she passed it up in favour of attending the regular sprints session coached by Frances Barlow and David Walker. It just goes to show how much she values and enjoys these sessions. High praise indeed to our junior coaches.

I decided I would go anyway. The mile was delivered by Stride Out Events and the people organising it, Scott Hydon and Kieran Walker have been an integral part of our club for many years. Scott’s enthusiasm and expertise for athletics have benefited so many of our juniors in the past and continues to do so. We are very lucky to have him as part of our club.

A great one from the archives. Scott cheering Kieran on to bronze at the North East Cross Country Championships.

So, plans were made to take a car full and I picked up Thomas and Becky Rowe and Rory Letts on the way and the conversation soon turned to the topic of cake. How much can you eat before a run / after a run and somewhere in between.

Pre registration was essential for this race as each race was graded and so all who entered were put into a race with others of a similar ability. I was hoping to get sub 7 so entered 7 minutes and soon found myself up against Rosie, Lisa and Callum who are far faster than me. I revisited my goal to include the target not to be last!

Race 1.

The route utilised the cycle track at Prissick, a 1km loop which is mainly flat and fast with sweeping bends rather than tight corners as cycle racing demands. It is an ideal route for a PB if you are in form.

The first race set off at 7pm with a lead and tail bike although it was impossible to get lost. The finish times in that race ranged between 6.34 and 10.21 with the majority nearing the 10.21 finishing time. It does seem that someone was definitely quicker than they had anticipated!

Andy in race 2.

There was a great turn out of 13 harriers and the club was represented in race 2 by Paula, Andy Corfield and Graham Darby.

I was in race 3 and we were quickly heading off down the slight decline in the track and I was just thinking don’t get carried away in the first part. Having said that, both Lisa and Rosie definitely got carried away and shot off in front and by the end of the first bend Lisa was out of sight. Of course she maintained her pace (why wouldn’t she?) and finished as strong as ever in 6.21 only to be beaten by Callum who won our race in 6. Rosie put in a great performance of 6.30 and having not set off too fast I managed to finish in 6.48. I was very pleased with sub 7. I quite fancy having a crack at 6.45 next time!

As I headed off to watch Rosie make me a cup of tea (I was still out of breath) race 4 was underway. I liked the relaxed but organised atmosphere. Make your own tea and coffee, help yourself to biscuits and check your results (which are available immediately after the race) although published and linked to power of 10 the next day.

There were lots of great performances by Harriers. https://www.runbritainrankings.com/results/results.aspx?meetingid=329242&event=1M&venue=Middlesbrough&date=6-Nov-19

The next event (always held first Wednesday in the month, 4th December) in the series is a 5km. It’s fast, flat and PB potential. Get yourselves along.  Pre entry is essential so that you are allocated into the right event. The plan is for two races, the first for those who predict a finish time of sub 21 minutes and the second race for over 21 minutes. All abilities are welcome and encouraged to come along; don’t be put off by the sound of the second race (it sounds fast to me), I predict that finishing times will range to include 35 minutes plus….. I also predict that Ellie will beat me.

Enter here:
https://strideoutathletics.fullonsport.com/loginorguest

By Jane Spink

Another lovely one from the archives – even further back.

Race Rundown: York Marathon, 20th October 2019

Let me say before we get started, things have been very, very busy. And when something had to go this summer, it was training….marathon training. Marathon training, which apparently is very useful, if you’re planning on running a marathon.

So you get it…..I hadn’t trained.

Here we go – York Marathon Race Run Down.

I have previous with York Marathon. In 2016, after doing the training I might add, I hit the wall at 19 miles and spent the last 7 miles crying, watching my target of 4.45 slip away. I finished in 5 hours and 6 minutes. I had gone off too fast and not stuck to my plan. It was a rookie’s mistake and I knew better.

This year my mistake was to attempt the marathon on the back of only one long run, which was only 12 miles. But being a Yorkshire lass, and having paid my entrance fee, I was damn well going to get my money’s worth. And If time spent on the course is value for money, I was one of the richest ladies alive. Saying that, not training and knowing you’re going to just bimble round meant that I could at least enjoy a cheeky glass of vino the day before, and obviously, a huge slice of cake.

The morning of the marathon came, and it was time to line up. My goal was now to ‘run’ for as long as I could, and then to see what happened. I knew I had to slow it down in order to get as many miles as possible at a pace marginally quicker than speed walking. I managed 10, then 13, then I was at the start of the switch back at 16 miles….still running!! I met loads of people on the way, some like me, slogging it out, others were really cheerful. You know the type, annoyingly happy and really enjoying themselves, smiling, and all I could think was ‘If I’d trained for this run, I would be able to overtake you…but I can’t’. Fortunately, they overtook me instead.

Graham at the switchback

During the switchback I was having some serious conversations with myself. My knees hurt, my hips hurt, I had managed to run much further than in my training and I was chuffed with that, but the wheels were starting to come off. I tried to convince myself of the many benefits of dropping out. These included getting to the pub quicker, increased likelihood of being able to walk in the morning, going for some lunch, and it would be nice for Steve to not have to stand in the cold rainy weather. Yes, I am always thinking of others.

Lisa on her way to a Sedgefield record!

At 19 miles I discussed this with Steve as we walked together. Through the tears I justified my many, many reasons for not continuing. He didn’t buy it one bit. And by the time I’d got through my tear stained excuses he said ‘Well, we’re at 20 miles now, you’ve only got a 10k to go’.

So I did. It was painful, and I had to walk parts of the last 6 miles, and I got a bit emotional as I passed the brass band playing in the rain, the supporters still out cheering us on, and all the marshals who must have been freezing, but still clapped and whooped as we came into the last 5k. Through the villages, passed the pubs, and finally, that hill. You know the one. I was determined to run the last mile. And suddenly, there was the finish line, and not a moment too soon. I was cold, soaked through, and in a lot of pain, but I had done it. And I was very pleased. I managed 5 hours and 22 minutes. See, I got my money’s worth.

I didn’t make it to the pub that night, and I couldn’t walk the next day, but it did make me think, if I actually did some training, maybe I can achieve 4.45 for a marathon. Good job I’ve already entered Manchester in the Spring.

By Tracy Foreman

Marathon Results: https://www.chiptiming.co.uk/events/asda-foundation-yorkshire-marathon-2019/

10 Mile Results: https://www.chiptiming.co.uk/events/asda-foundation-yorkshire-10-mile-2019/

 

Race Rundown: Kielder Marathon, 13th October 2019

Kielder Marathon Weekend
12th/13th October
Stick to the plan, man

I have taken part in races at the Kielder Marathon weekend every year since the event was launched in 2010. In that time, I have been part of a relay team in all of the Kielder Run-Bike-Runs, usually as part of the ‘Sedgefield Specials’ with Roger Whitehill and cyclist Ian Dunn. In recent years, I’ve also returned to Kielder on the Sunday to tackle the half marathon. I love both events; being part of a team in the run-bike-run is always fun, while the half (added to the weekend about four years ago) follows a challenging, but attractive route that includes parts of the full marathon course.

However, until this year, I had never tackled ‘Britain’s most beautiful marathon’. For the tenth event, I made a late decision to scratch that particular itch and booked a place a few weeks out. On the Saturday, Rog, Ian and I travelled up to Northumberland for our annual date at the Kielder Run-Bike-Run. This year, ours wasn’t the only Sedgefield team in the race. David Bentley, Rob Spink and Mark Raine grabbed third overall with an impressive performance, while we were a respectable fifth. Young guns Ciaran Lines, Tom Hearmon and George Hampson also finished in the top ten. Meanwhile, Tracy Henderson was second overall in the women’s individual race, a place higher than last year’s excellent result. On the same day, Karen Killingley and Jennifer Chaytor completed the Kielder 10K.


I was back up at Kielder early the following morning for the start of the marathon, along with Gary Thwaites (for his 98th marathon!), Ray Carmichael, Dave Walker and Lisa Darby. I had already decided to not put pressure on myself by targeting a fast time, partly because I had always intended to really push myself in my 11K leg the previous day, partly because I knew it was a tough course, and partly because I hadn’t been training for a marathon. However, I wanted to aim for somewhere between 3:30 and 3:45. Chatting to Gary, Ray and Dave ahead of the start, I established that they had important targets in York the following week, so were planning to run a steady pace, aiming to finish in a little under four hours. I was tempted to join them in that, but decided to stick with my plan and set off with that in mind. This meant that I went out a bit faster than my fellow Harriers, but I soon found myself running in other good company.

The opening few miles were very familiar, following the same route as the first leg of the run-bike-run, and establishing a familiar pattern of undulations and the occasional challenging switchback hill, all in stunning surroundings, even on that dreich day. For regular participants in Kielder Marathon events, there has been an in joke for years about Northumbrian Water’s ‘Steep Incline Ahead’ and ‘Steep Decline Ahead’ signs, which used to appear with alarming frequency along the course (and featured on the finishers’ t-shirts one year). Although those signs are no longer employed as zealously as in the past, they do pop up every so often and are a fairly regular reminder that running around Kielder Water doesn’t involve following a straightforward, flat lakeside path. It’s lumpy up there.


Despite the remoteness of the location, there were spectators out along the route, offering encouragement alongside the ever-brilliant volunteer marshals. I settled into a comfortable pace that I was able to maintain and then moved onto a section of the route that I hadn’t run before, around the north west corner of the reservoir, before heading east along the northern shore. It was during miles seven to 17 that I really started to appreciate just how beautiful the setting is, and that certainly seemed to help me along.

For me, one of the biggest challenges in a marathon relates to nutrition. I can’t digest sucrose or maltose, which really limits my options for energy replacement. I still haven’t found anything that can do the job of a gel, so if I ‘bonk’, then I’m in big trouble as I can’t take anything to give me a quick boost. Earlier this year, I managed to find a Swedish brand called Nick’s that makes genuinely sugar free chocolate and some of the company’s products incorporate seeds and nuts. So, I carried a few of those and maintained a discipline of eating one about every hour during the race, managing to coincide each with the lead up to a water station for washing down the chocolatey goodness. For possibly the first time for me in a marathon, this plan seemed to work as intended and I don’t think that I ever really properly hit the wall. I was certainly knackered towards the end of the run, but that was more due to the fact that I hadn’t run anywhere near the distance since January and my limbs were screaming blue murder.

Anyway, back to the marathon course. I had been warned that one of the tough sections was at around 14 miles. So it proved, with a tasty, sustained switchback climb through the woods. Being prepared for it helped and I worked hard to not work too hard, if that makes sense. After that, I enjoyed (genuinely – look at the uncharacteristic smile in the pic!) several scenic miles heading towards the dam, gradually gaining a few places along the way. I was also caught by a couple of runners, who trotted off ahead of me, but I didn’t try to stay with them like I might have done in a shorter event. Stick to the plan Chris, stick to the plan.

By the time I reached the dam (the only significant flat stretch of the day), I was back on familiar territory, as the marathon was by now sharing a route with the half. Psychologically, this was a double-edged sword. On one hand, I knew what was ahead in the last eight miles and could prepare myself for that. On the other, I therefore also knew that this included a brutal, multiple switchback climb in the 22nd mile, the toughest section of the whole marathon. At least it didn’t come as a surprise!

By this time, the weather had closed in and it was raining steadily, but that didn’t concern me. I reached that crux hill still feeling okay and, crucially, I managed to run from bottom to top without slowing to a walk (even if my pace was barely above a walk, my method of movement was a run and in my mind, that was very important). Once I reached the top without any ‘damage’, I knew that I was going to be okay. Complacency is very dangerous in a marathon and can easily happen when you’re tired and struggling to concentrate, but I kept my head and continued to stick to the plan, eating my last bar of chocolate despite not feeling like I needed to.

The last four miles were tough and my lack of training/marathon conditioning did slow me down a bit, but some of the runners ahead of me were slowing even more and I gained a few places between miles 22 and 25, including one of those who had overtaken me about nine miles earlier. Again, that helped my head. The last mile and 192 yards were actually enjoyable. I caught the other person who had passed me earlier, along with another runner, and even managed to put in a modest sort-of-sprint for the line. I finished in 3:34:39, which was towards the faster end of my target ‘window’, and therefore more than satisfactory. All of the Harriers who were taking part in the 2019 Kielder Marathon finished in times of under four hours, which was great running all round. I think that Lisa got around in just under 3:41, only a week ahead of her brilliant club record in York. Meanwhile, Marie Walker, Ian Hedley, Emma Featherstone and Christine Hearmon also ran well in the Kielder Half Marathon.

I can heartily recommend the Kielder Marathon, not for a PB (unless you haven’t run a marathon before!), but certainly for the atmosphere and the amazing scenery, which definitely lives up to the billing. And If you don’t want to tackle the full marathon, there are plenty of other events to choose from over the weekend. Next year’s events will be on 3rd and 4th October. Find out more at www.kieldermarathon.com, and make sure that you have a plan…

Chris Lines.

Race Rundown: Penshaw 10k, 6th October 2019

Trail Outlaws organises an Urban Trail series of 5 trail races across the summer with Penshaw 10K the last in the series. All of the Trail Outlaw events are really well organised, friendly and you always get a medal and some goodies at the end. They are also well known to be challenging and have a sting in the tail, the 2 Penshaw races being the toughest of the series.

My race day didn’t start well when i saw the forecast for torrential rain and looked out at 6am to see it pouring down. The thought of not turning up crossed my mind many times but I had run all the others in the series so wanted to finish it. My support team (Paul and the boys) refused to come because of the weather so I set off on my own.

 

The weather was grim. After collecting my number, like most of the other runners I sat in the car with the heaters on trying to find some motivation to get out. Although I had my waterproof on, I was so cold by the time the race started my legs refused to function and it took a couple of miles before I warmed up. The course was challenging but totally off road which I loved.

After starting at the bottom of the hill and running around the Penshaw Monument we flew down over the fields to the the old railway line. Two people running alongside me had already fallen by this time and I hoped I would finish with my ankles intact. The route then headed towards Washington, along the river and then back across the fields. The organisers had to change the finish due to the weather and instead of climbing all the way back to the monument we cut back down to the start, although it wasn’t any easier running down the steps. I bet the course would be quite lovely in the middle of summer, but I could barely see past the rain and at some points the water was up to my knees.

By the time we finished I was just glad it was over, but also quite pleased I had actually turned up. I quickly popped into the visitor centre to get my medal, some cherryade and sweets and then was in the car in dry clothes driving away within two minutes. Quick Costa drive-through stop on the way back to warm up and hot bath when I got home.

You know its been a tough race when you are eating piping hot tomato soup in the bath, with your woolly hat still on.

by Rosie Warnett.

Results: https://urbantrails.co.uk/penshaw-10k-results-2019.php

Editor’s note: Rosie finished 6th female overall, out of 156, a very good effort.

Race Rundown: The Princess Challenge (Ravenscar), 31st August 2019

On the Harriers page Emma Featherstone asked if anybody would be up to do the Princess Challenge which was at Ravenscar on the 31 August. It immediatley caught my attention with the title PRINCESS however I didn’t realise it was 17.5miles!!!

On the site they encouraged you to dress as a princess, wear tutus or tiaras and not just for the ladies. I have never seen as many men in tutus There were 3 distances: 8.5 miles, in the middle 17.5 and the long one which was 31 miles. You also got rewarded with chip butties at the end and they also encouraged you to bring cake as this is shared at the end. Race sold (cake and chip butties).

I have never ever run 17.5 miles in my life!!! but thought I would still like to give it a go as it was off road which I enjoy. This was not a marshaled event, you had check points to show your number. You also had to carry a certain kit and a map (this is something that I have never done before however wasn’t too bad) and my husband bought me a new lightweight Montane running coat so I was in a win win situation.

Race day arrived. Me, Emma Featherstone and Marie Walker were travelling together and meeting Nicki Blackett at the start. We set off at 6.30 in the morning to ensure that we were there and ready in plenty time. They completed a kit check before we started and provided us with a map (Map!! I get lost on our Sunday morning runs round Sedgefield area never mind through woods where I have ever been before).

I got talking to a local man about the course and how anxious I was about running 17.5 miles and what he basically said put me at ease and changed my mindset. The start point was a community centre and that was the centre point; he said just think it is approx 4 miles to the right then back again, then 4 miles to the left then back again….hmm this sounded a lot better then 17.5 miles.

The route was absolutely stunning. There was no pressure on how fast you could run it was so relaxed. We stopped, took some selfies and a few photos of the breath taking views . When we had hills (which there were a fair few) everybody walked up and down to reserve their energy. The only down side, there were no markers on the route. Thank goodness for Emma and her map reading skills. The four of us all stayed together through the run from start to finish which was lovely. Not sure that I would ever do one of these runs on my own due to my very poor navigation skills. We all finished the race within seconds of each other.

I really enjoyed the race and to think I ran that distance I was buzzing. Definitely on the top of my list for next year.

by Lisa Martin.

Results: https://racebest.com/results/6zfh8