Race Rundown: Lakeland Trails – Hawkshead 16k – 13th April 2019

OK why did I sign up for this –

Great way to start our holiday in the Lakes.

Means we have to arrive early to start our holiday.

I love walking the hills in the Lake District.

To mark the last day in my forties!

There was a “challenge” option which is for the slower runners (or fast walkers), so no pressure!

Why this might be a bad idea –

Yes I do love walking the hills but I don’t like drops, I don’t like running down hill when it’s either steep, slippery, gravely or covered in stones/rocks.

I don’t like running up hills, does anyone?

Mile 8 was known as the coffin trail, steep uphill for a mile!

David was doing the “race” which meant he set off an hour after me, so my plan was to walk any bit I didn’t like and still arrive back before David. Matthew was to meet me at the end I told him it would take me about 2 hours (hopefully no longer)!

The race organisers said the weather was “perfect”, dry, just a bit breezy and cool, the 493 “challenge” runners lined up to start to the sound of drums and a brilliant atmosphere. We set off along the road and soon up the hill towards Chaife Heights, the pace was steady and I managed to run nearly all the way up, under foot was nice, no steep drops, not too much gravel or rocks, so the running was good.

Following a down, an up and then a lovely grassy downhill we passed though Far Sawrey and the first water station, I was enjoying every step.

From Far Sawrey there was a long uphill, but with so many people walking, I felt the pressure was off and was happy to also walk. Whilst walking I still managed to overtake a lady who was running, just shows sometimes it does pay to be a tortoise.

For me the next bit was the worse bit of the race I really didn’t enjoy the drop down to Lake Windermere, it was quite steep with rocks and stones, I went so slow down about 30 people flew past me. Once on to the Lakeside I managed to pass a few of them before starting the coffin trail, no one ran that bit at all!  After the coffin trail mile it was 90% downhill to the finish.

I must say the marshals were great, one of them had about 10 small toy sheep with him and the one on the coffin trail was a full size skeleton he was wearing a hi-vis vest and pointing the right way.

With just over a mile before the finish I passed Matthew walking up the hill, I guessed that meant I was going faster than planned! I did walk part of the final downhill due to loose stones but once we were on the field and the road for the final stretch before the finish on Hawkhead playing fields I picked up the pace and passed quite a few runners and even managed a sprint finish with words of encouragement from a gentleman from St Helen’s Striders as I went past.

There was a commentator at the end of the race who spotted my number and shouted “well done Marie” as I came over the finish line.

To greet everyone at the end there were the drummers again, a finishers t-shirt and a brilliant selection of traders with goodies for sale, Matthew enjoyed a venison burger, David an apple and cinnamon latte and me a lovely cup of tea!

I really did enjoy the race (challenge) and would happily do it or maybe another Lakeland Trail run again, they are really not about time, they are about enjoying the hills, the views, the atmosphere and the great sense of achievement, which I did have at the end.

Just for the record, time wise David in the race came 36 (out of 152) 1 hour 24 min 5th V50, and me I’m over the moon 1 hour 47 mins!  141 overall, 8th V40 lady (if the race had been the next day I would have been 5th V50, maybe I should do it next year J )

Results: http://www.lakelandtrails.org/download/Results/AA%2019%20Results/Hawkshead%2016k%20Trail%20Race%20Provisional%20Results.pdf

By Marie Walker

Race Rundown: Greater Manchester Marathon, 7th April 2019

Manchester Marathon 7th April . My debut, wow what a marathon.

My marathon began with a party going on in the hotel room next door!!! Finally dozing and then a fire alarm at 4am. Wake up call. FALSE ALARM!!

I arrived at the start line wiring for the toilet or so I thought! No I was in a pen with 2:45 runners ARGHHHH! No way out I was stuck.

13 miles in everything going to my plan and that included 2 toilet stops. Shell Garage was very kind and gave lots of encouragement! The crowds that supported the race were very supportive all the way along the full route. I was now in new territory, 20 miles, don’t look at the watch just keep going. I needed the enthusiastic crowds. Then out of the bushes appeared Jane! It was me who went to a proper toilet. That amused me for a while and made me chuckle.

The atmosphere was phenomenal, I have never seen so much support from the local community. The different bands on route were uplifting. All I can say is well done to the organisation of this marathon, it certainly inspired me.

For extra energy I used 6 orange SIS gels from 6 miles and that gave me enough to finish. I kept my head and stuck to my plan and although I didn’t blow up at 20 miles the last 6 were so hard. Weather conditions perfect for a long run and a lovely flat course which was supported all the way around.

By Tracy Glaister

Results: https://results.sporthive.com/events/6488812689306147584

Editor’s note: Tracy completed her debut marathon in a very impressive 4 hours 20 minutes.

Race Rundown: Druridge Bay Marathon, April 7th 2019

Here are some of my running stats:

  • Number of marathons completed ever:  4, all in 2017
  • Date of last marathon: September 2017, Hull
  • Number of times I’ve run further than half marathon distance in last 12 months: 1 (16 miles)
  • Months missed through injury in 2019: 2 (most of January and February)
  • Reason for entering Druridge Bay Marathon: Absolutely no idea

Well actually I do know why I entered, but nothing makes complete sense. I was inspired by Mike W running his first ever marathon at the Hardwick Winter Wonder in January, based on simply being in good running nick; I’ve been involved in a lot of marathon talk recently with the Manchester, London and York enthusiasts and it’s quite seductive (John H: “Camm on Pete, you’ve gotta do Yawk mayt”); I am a member of the North East Marathon Club, the clue is in the name; I didn’t take my free place at the Leas event nor was able to do the winter wonders due to injury, so I had this one for ‘free’; due to tide times at Druridge, those doing the full marathon had to set off an hour earlier than those doing the half, so I couldn’t start the half and just see if I could keep going, I had to state my aim.

But apart from being in decent running nick for me and racking up a few miles in March, I really hadn’t trained for it. I kept quiet about it, partly out of respect for those doing Manchester the proper way on the same morning, and made it to the start line.

I haven’t done Druridge Bay before, but it’s in keeping with NEMC’s events in that a number of attractive laps are repeated, four in total. Each lap was like a squiggly figure of 8, with a mid point (an interchange, enabling refreshments twice each lap). Those who have done Druridge cross country would recognise the lake to be orbited each time, but there were also really nice sections of path and closed road, all at easy gradients. The highlight of each circuit was the mile or so stretch on the beach, on hard sand with the wind behind, a lovely bay.

Conditions were chilly and damp, ideal for long distance running. After a quick briefing and ‘ready, steady go’ we were off. I can honestly say that the first two laps (half marathon) were a dream. I ran at a steady pace (just over two hours) and felt great. I made several new friends. Ryan was doing his first ever marathon, loping along in a very easy style; he lives up in Weardale, his wife works in M&S in Durham. It was only when I needed a wee at the end of the first lap that we were parted. Debbie D and her Peterlee friends were discussing HR issues at work. On lap two I caught up with David. Recently turned 50, he was training for an ultra in a couple of months’ time; should he go for a flat 47 miler or a Lakeland mountainous 32? We discussed the merits of each until I eased ahead of him on the second beach stretch.

In quieter moments I was also mentally writing my Rundown. At the halfway point it was all about how easy it was to run a marathon with no additional training. This new found revelation was despite me finding every long run difficult, ever, after about 16 miles…

There were no other Sedgefield runners in my race but I did spy Ben Smale at the interchange one time. He was doing the half, and flying along on his way to a brilliant 4th place and huge PB. Julia Atkinson-Tait was somewhere in the half field too. When I saw Ben, I bellowed a huge ‘Good luck Ben Smale!’ He told me later that he had heard and that it had really benefitted. The woman with the headphones alongside me that jumped out of her skin may have not felt so grateful. “Oh, sorry love”.

Lap 3 and I definitely started to stiffen up. I felt it first as I got onto the beach and by the end of the lap was finding it hard to keep moving. Stopping to empty my shoe of small stones was probably as much about taking a breather, but I did keep running overall.

The start of lap 4, coming back through the public area was really tough. Had it just been a more informal winter wonder type event, I would have called it a day then. I was knackered. But I kept going. A short way into lap 4, and I walked for the first time and so began the most miserable hour or so of running/walking since the closing stages of Hull, 18 months ago. The triumphant mood of an hour previous was long consigned and gradually many of the people who I had passed in the earlier stages, steadily came back past me. I was so full of self pity. I thought enviously of Chris and Ciaran doing 3000m at Middlesbrough. 3000m, now that would have been much more sensible. I began to rewrite this rundown in my head, recognising the stupidity of not training properly. I aimed for trees and puddles and any other landmarks to run (shuffle) to before walking again. I counted 100 running strides to 40 walking. My glutes said no, my pride whispered yes. The only person I had passed early on in this final lap was Noel. I only know his name through the results. His feet were killing him, he muttered. But not so much, because he stayed close for all the last 5 miles. We played slow motion cat and mouse all the way back; he catching me with a faster walk, my shuffle run slightly quicker. I never looked behind – now that would have betrayed my pretend nonchalance – but each time I heard him close I dragged myself into a jog. Once past the refreshment table (no final Haribo, I’ve had enough of those for a while!) I kept up a slow run for the last half a kilometre and thanked Noel once we’d both crossed the finish. 13 seconds separated us, he had really helped.

4 hours 31 is nothing to write home about, but neither was it a disaster. Feeling utterly fatigued I gratefully accepted both medals (yes two, one about ‘World Bamnation Weekend’. No idea what it means, neither does Google, but I deserved it). I had a photo with my lap 1 friend Ryan who also had suffered latterly and the briefest of chats with the likes of Mel, Ian and Omar from the club. I was so wrecked, that I just wanted to go home and curl up. Sitting on the boot lid of the car, wrestling with stiffness and the lining of my track bottoms, a member of the public came over and asked if I wanted some help. I must have looked that pathetic. I remember hearing myself say “Thanks, it’s okay. I’ve just run a marathon.”

The volunteer marshals were great as always: Karl & co hunkering down behind the concrete beach blocks, Andy swatting away midges for five hours, Chris on his camping chair in one corner of the park, Anna and her friend unable to take a photo because they were too cold, Christine on the refreshment table (who pointed out my bleeding nipples at about half way!). Others too. Heroes, all.

So would I recommend doing a marathon on minimal training? Absolutely not. Stupid idea. Running should be an enjoyable experience. Yet, as soon as I’d warmed up, grabbed a coffee, got a free electric charge at Stannington Services and thought about what I’d done, I realised I didn’t regret it. I’m so not a long distance runner, but I was quite pleased with myself. Marathon #5: third quickest (or slowest, if your glass is half empty).

I’m definitely not doing Yawk though John, before you ask again.

By Pete King

Results: https://www.trailoutlaws.com/tots/index.php

Race Rundown: Forestry 100 running series – Hamsterley 10k – 7th April 2019

I entered this race earlier in the year not really knowing what to expect. I spent a lot of time there as a child so was well aware of the multi-terrain possibilities of the course. My fear after entering was that it was all going to be off road, uphill, through mud and over tree roots (some people’s cup of tea but I’ve done my share of Tough Mudders).

The weather forecast the night before was for drizzle and the met office wasn’t wrong. I arrived in good time for the start of the race so had a little walk from the parking area to the start line to see what was going on. It was all very subdued, a hand full of people milling around, the registration tent, the finish line and a solitary burger van, the only sound was that of a nearby stream and the van’s generator. I headed back to the car to keep warm, pin my number to my top and take on a few sips of water.

15 minutes to start and I ventured out of the car towards the start. Steve Cram had followed me up the road to the start line and offered a courteous “good morning.” There were a few more people there now and a bit more of an atmosphere was building. I had a little jog out of the back to the finish line to warm up then we were soon called to the start. Steve Cram started the race with a speech about the important work of Forestry England and the benefit of physical activity in these areas. He was supposed to be running but claimed he’d sustained a hamstring injury in training earlier in the week (I think he probably didn’t feel he was being paid enough to run back up the hill that we had to drive down to get to the start).

The race was under way, I made a very steady start as I knew from the run route signs on my way in that after the 200m flat to the first bend it was going to be a steep climb for at least a few hundred metres. Luckily for me the route was all forest track so solid under foot but there was no sight of the top of the hill as we passed the car entry road. A dozen or so runners, obviously more adept at running up hills, passed me on the way up. We reached the 1k marker and were still climbing. First mile passed in 9:07 mins of quad burning pain and 255 feet of ascent but soon after it levelled out a little, the damp mist and drizzle had subsided and the trees cleared to reveal a view of the forest below. It was a very scenic panorama of the valley below, the evergreen treetops and Weardale in the distance.

Another 194 feet of ascent through the 8:22 2nd mile and 176 feet up in the 8:44 3rd mile had my legs screaming for some downhill at the half way point. Soon after passing the 5k marker, which the drinks marshal had enthusiastically claimed “was just around the corner,” but was in fact around the corner, down a dip, up the other side of the dip and around another bend on the top of another rise, the descent began. My legs loosened up surprisingly quickly and the miles passed by quickly as the route meandered through the trees back down to the finish line. My legs were more adept at running downhill and flat than those who passed me going up as I steadily re-passed the dozen or so runners that passed me on the way up on the sprint to the finish, (7:16, 7:11 and 6:42 for miles 4, 5 and 6 respectively and a 1:20 ¼ mile sprint to the finish). I crossed the line in 48:56 which I was more that happy with especially considering the punishing nature of the first half of the race. Mr Cram was handing out the wooden finisher medals and the “well dones” at the finish and I helped myself to a cup of water and a Jaffa Cake from the refreshment table while I caught my breath and watched a number of other runners finishing the course.

I thoroughly enjoyed this race, the sense of achievement in not giving in on the inclines, the interesting surroundings and tranquil, traffic free route made it different from the races I usually enter and I’d sign up to enter again next year (with a little more hill training under my belt).




by Sam Rudd.

Race Rundown: Kieran Maxwell Memorial Open 3000m, 7th April 2019

“…its not about you joggers who go round and round and round

I always used to be more daunted by a 3,000m on the track than a road half marathon. Theres nowhere to hide on the track you can feel exposed, with all of your athletic shortcomings on display for anyone to see and judge. I also used to find the experience oddly claustrophobic. Hmm, Im not really giving track and field the big sellhere am I?

The truth is that I am a convert, but the above paragraph is my attempt to avoid being that most annoying type of person the atheist turned holier than thou evangelist, or the reverse for that matter. So now that I have got that out of the way, I will unashamedly eulogise about running on the track!

Its a great experience and whats more, it has helped me improve my performances on the road. The discipline of getting into a rhythm and consistent pace on the track can have a significant impact elsewhere. In 2018, after running distances from 1,500m to 10,000m on the track during the summer, I managed to set new PBs at both 5K and 10K on the road, having struggled to get close to my previous bests for several years. A coincidence? Of course not.

Were really fortunate that there is a well-established calendar of track and field events in the North East, and I particularly recommend the NYSD series over the summer, which this year will all be held at Middlesbrough Sports Village. You can register in advance, but you can also enter on the night, and they are extremely welcoming events that give anyone the opportunity to have a go at track and field without feeling like theyre in the crucible of competition. Thats not to say that the meetings are not competitive, just that the focus is as much on participation as it is on performance, and in that environment, its much less daunting. Last year, as well as racing on the track, I had a go at long jump, triple jump, discus, shot and high jump (think less Fosbury Flopand more Lines Lateral Leap’ – note the crucial problem with the latter!).

Another great aspect of the NYSD series is that its open to people of all ages. Track and field is a vital element of any young athletes development, so I have been trying to get my oldest son Ciaran along to as many meetings as possible its a bonus that I can participate too. The traditional outdoor season curtain raiser used to be the Anne Marie Readshaw event at Shildon, but that no longer takes place and in the last two years, the baton has been passed to the Kieran Maxwell Memorial Open, held in memory of an inspirational young man who I was fortunate enough to meet on a couple of occasions. Like the NYSD events, anyone could take part, though all registration was in advance and the event filled up quite quickly.

Ciaran and I both tackled the 3,000m, which was held in a single heat that attracted a mixed field of junior and senior men, and one lady. As I lined up, I realised that some pretty speedy young men had decided that this would be a great opener for their seasons. I was already reconciled to being towards the back of the field, but identified my own battles with a couple of the other vets, with Ciaran, and versus my time of 10:35 from the same event in 2018.

For those who dont know, the Linesy sub-text to all of this is the countdown to the (inevitable) moment when Ciaran (who will turn 16 in July) gets officially faster than his old man. Hes been getting very close in recent months, but hasnt quite managed that at 5K or other longer distances. In the immediate lead up to Sundays race, I predicted to a few folk that this could be the moment, but I was determined that Ciaran would have to work hard for it.

Back to the race. We set off and I kept close order with Ciaranfor about 200m. Then he scampered off up the track with a group and I was detached. I ran most of the race in splendid isolation, some way behind Ciaran and several young whippersnappers, but ahead of a few of the other older runners. My hope was that Ciaran had gone off far too fast and that I would gradually make ground on him. It didnt happen and while seven and a half laps can feel like a long way, its not really, so theres not a great deal of time to claw back a significant gap. The overall winner of the race was New Marskes Dean Newton (in a rapid time of 8:52), who I am relieved to admit was the only person who lapped me. I crossed the line in 10:24, 11 seconds faster than at the same event last year (but a little behind my PB of 10:16). I don’t think that I could have gone any quicker on the day.

As for Ciaran, well he was a minute faster than last year, finishing in 9:58, so not only did he comfortably beat me, but he also blitzed my PB. I call that pretty definitive. I am genuinely delighted for him (really!). Im also glad that hes had to work hard to get ahead of me in the Lines pecking order at one distance, because thats how it should be, and I will now redouble my efforts to stay ahead of him at other distances. ?

Finally, once again, I highly recommend that junior and senior Harriers have a go at track and field. Its fun, competitive, accessible, and can definitely help you improve in other aspects of your athletics. You can find full details of the NYSD series here and theres also a well established series for veterans called the North East Masters full details here. If you really want to challenge yourself (and put yourself out there), theres also the NECAA North East Track and Field Championships on 11th and 12th May see details here.

The results from this years Kieran Maxwell Memorial Open can be found at www.kieranmaxwellopen.co.uk.

Thanks to Karen Harland (Dean Newtons mum) for the photos.

Chris Lines.


Race Rundown: Lancaster Mother’s Day 10k, 30th March 2019

Mother’s Day 10k is part of the Lancaster Race Series and has been a firm favourite in Lancaster for many years. This race attracts many runners from Lancaster and Morecambe but also runners from as far afield as Surrey. Surprisingly, this race is totally flat which is a novelty for Lancaster as there are hills everywhere especially at parkrun.

Starting at the George & Dragon Pub, Lancaster Quay and heading towards Morecambe; this route is a simple out and back course on the cycle paths next to the River Lune. Due to the flat elevation, it is ideal for a fast time.

So, the start time was nearing, and I was getting my usual pre-race nerves, there was a short walk to the start (5 minutes) and then the race began. My first mile was very fast due to starting quite close to the front and this led to a new mile PB for me of 7:39. However, me being me, I decided that I could keep this pace going for the whole race!! As many of you know, I always set off a lot faster than I should. The run followed the cycle path and crossed the Lune Millennium Bridge which was lovely.

The halfway and turn around point was close, and my watch clocked 5k at 24:37 which was also a PB. However, after the halfway point, I started to flag! Luckily, one of my best friends (Alice) managed to catch me up and we both decided to stick with each other and help each other finish. As the race progressed, we both realised that sub 50 minutes for the 10k was achievable. Around 8km we decided we could do it. We went over the bridge for the final time and I knew it was going to be very close, but we could do it.

My final time was 49:56 which was a PB and I was very emotional on the line. Both Alice and I managed it which I didn’t think would be possible this early in the season. This is probably only one of the only times I have been emotional on a finish line. We were handed our medal, chocolate and water, then the celebrations began!

This was my first race in the Lancaster Race Series, and I would 100% recommend this particular race to anyone as it was well organised with a variety of prizes including a slow cooker and waffle maker (useful for students)!

Race Results: https://www.runbritainrankings.com/results/results.aspx?meetingid=284723

By Georgina Letts

Race Rundown: Stockton Winter Trail series 2018 – 2019

I only started running 5km at Sedgefield Parkrun last August and liked the idea of trying different 5kms.

I had been taking part in the junior series for quite a few years which was 2km but they stopped doing the junior races this season.

The series took place between October – March. There were six races in total, two at Tess Barrage, and one each at Cowpen Bewley, Preston Park, Wynyard Woods and Ropner Park. I did all of them apart from Preston Park (which was a shame as this was the one where they gave out selection boxes!). Each of the venues was completely different. Tees Barrage was pretty flat, Cowpen Bewley was the other extreme and has a big hill and is always very muddy! I enjoyed Wynyard as I liked running through the woods but there was a section where you have to run up a lot of steps….I ran up them but a lot of people were walking up them! Ropner Park was the last one of the series and was more like a more parkrun as all on path instead of trail. Although it was a nice lap of the park I didn’t really enjoy doing the same lap 3 times.

This series was mostly adults but I did enjoy doing it. It was well organised and everyone was really friendly to me and adults often came up to me after the race to shake my hand and say well done….even the ones who were trying to beat me at the finish. One man said he was pleased he had overtaken me only for me to sprint past him at the finish! I would recommend this series to other juniors as this year I think there was only me and David Edwards taking part.

By Thomas Rowe

Editor’s note. Thomas is extremely modest about his running, as evidenced by his excellent results, such as here at Ropner: https://events.stockton.gov.uk/media/1997/ropner-park-results-2019.pdf

Race Rundown: Kielder Dark Skies Marathon, 23rd March 2019

2019 Trail Outlaws Dark Skies Marathon is one big loop around the stunning Kielder reservoir. The course is mainly on gravel paths with plenty of ups and downs that last the whole loop. The only flat bit I can remember is the dam. The forecast was promising, and we had our fingers crossed for the Aurora Borealis making an appearance. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be so no light show on the night, but the conditions were perfect for running so I won’t grumble.

Ray was kind enough to drive again and we had some company this time from fellow Harrier Lisa Darby and Catriona Miller Frampton. The journey went well apart form no coffee stop and Ray getting the start time muddled up with Sunday’s race, so we arrived 1 hour late! I was very stressed… Luckily though we allowed enough time and made it to registration in time. To be fair to Ray I should have paid attention to the start time myself instead of letting him sort it all out… I had my usual several trips to the loo, sorted my bag out and headed to the start. I chatted with a few friends and Garry Scott did the race brief. There was a bit of controversy the day before with some runners ditching kit. I know it’s a safe, well marked trail and it’s not the longest of events and the weather was okay, but why go against the rules? They got disqualified so hopefully it won’t happen again.

I was treating this run as a long hard training run. My training plan said to do some miles at my goal marathon pace, but the bulk of it easy. Kielder is lumpy, so I don’t think I did anything at goal marathon pace, but plenty of the miles were run at marathon effort. Also, the easy never felt that easy… Saying that, I ran the following week as normal so overall, I gauged the effort right.

The race started at a quick pace and the runner who eventually won the race was out of sight very early on. I could see 2nd, 3rd and 4th for about 5 miles, but 2nd and 3rd vanished after that too. I did manage to catch 4th up, but he caught me back when I stopped for the loo. I was really surprised to be so near the front with this being a training run and it was hard not getting wrapped up in the event. I just kept telling myself I’m training for London, I’m training for London!

Even though it was quite lonely running I found the miles passed easy. It’s a lovely trail with lots to see and some great sculptures on route so my mind was constantly occupied. Also, when the sun went down you could see the headtorches from the other runners. I never get bored of sights like this and I never get bored with being outside too.

I opted for the high-tech nutrition approach of 12 month out of date mountain fuel and half a bag of jelly babies. I’m still sticking to the mindset of we don’t need all the expensive nutrition that we consume before, during and after a run. I’ll run important races with gels, but everything else comes from whatever is kicking around in the cupboards. Luckily for me, out of date mountain fuel goes down and more importantly stays down.

I found it easier running in the dark. I couldn’t see the hills and I had no concept of how long was left to go before we reached the top of a climb. This just allowed you to run completely in the moment. I always kept a check on my heart rate. This kept me from slacking off and pushing too hard.

Getting to the dam was brilliant and it felt like I was on the home straight after that. It was great to see this checkpoint as I approached in the dark. I didn’t stop at any checkpoint, but it’s always a welcome sight and a boost so I’m really grateful for these people giving up their evening. I imagine quite a few of them gave up Friday, Saturday and Sunday!! Big shout out to Graham Darby for giving up most of his Saturday so we could run around the reservoir.

I did slow down quite a bit after the dam, but my heart rate was consistent, so I was happy to just go with the flow. On reflection it was a lonely run for me, but I never felt bored or the need to reduce my effort. I wished for a headlight to appear in the distance to give me something to aim for, I wished for the finish to come sooner too, but these are all natural when the race is in its final stages. I can’t get enough of running around our capital, but as soon as I see Big Ben, I’m begging for the finish line. Well, eventually the finish line did appear, and it was like running into a Christmas grotto. Loads of lights lighting up the route made for a lovely finish. More smiling and helpful marshals and a great medal.

I spent the last 2 hours thinking about the food I’d ordered so I quickly thanked everyone, found my bag and tucked into a big plate of chilli! It was canny, but the Victoria sponge cake was amazing. Perfect with a cuppa!

The room soon filled up with runners and before I knew it, Lisa Darby, Catriona and Ray finished. It looked like pretty much everyone had an enjoyable evening. Ray loved it so much he went back the next day for more hills. Would I go back again? Yes, 100%. I loved the route, atmosphere and I had a great run so why not. I came 4th in the end and 1st V40 male. I was over the moon with my award and it sits pride of place on my fire place at home.

Trail Outlaws put on slick events and everything seemed to run like clockwork. I have marshalled for them before, so I have seen it from the other side of the fence too and they really know what they are doing.

I’d do this race again without hesitation. I could even have my arm twisted to do all three of them!

Thanks again to Ray for driving. It’s my turn to drive this weekend as we head to Manchester for what will be hopefully marathon number 91.

I’m trying to reach my 100th marathon this year and hopefully I’ll raise a few quid along the way. I have been blown away with people’s generosity. If you would like to support me then pop over to Virgin Money Giving and give what you can.


By Gary Thwaites.




Results: https://darkskiesrun.com/dark-skies-kielder-results-2019.php



Race Rundown: Thirsk 10M Road Race, Sunday 17th March 2019

This was the first Harrier Grand Prix event of the season that I have attended and a good number of Harriers turned out to run the ‘fast flat course’ in North Yorkshire. My definition of flat appears to differ to that of race organisers – yes, it wasn’t hilly, but not what I would call flat. The race HQ was at Thirsk Racecourse and seemed to be well organised. There was plenty of parking and I didn’t have to queue for the loo – woo hoo!

It was a bright but windy day, the first few miles into a strong headwind and the later ones were wind assisted (which I needed). With over a thousand race entries, the start made for a crowded affair. It took a few miles to really get going, but it was a pleasant sight to see a long line of multi-coloured runners snaking along the country lanes. The course contained an out and back section, which seemed to last forever. I was relieved when I was finally on the main road heading back to the racecourse, blissfully unaware that Pete King was slowly reeling me in. The finish area was awash with yellow t-shirts from the event, but I didn’t hang round for long – that wind was cold!

I entered this race wistfully hoping for a PB, which didn’t happen. I really struggled during the run and was pleased when it was over. I later had to abandon my shopping plans and curl up on the living room floor with stomach cramps and sickness, not how I normally spend race days.

Some good results from the Harriers, particularly Clair Walker and her doppelganger.


by Tracy Henderson

Race Rundown: Hardmoors 55 (50) – March 16th 2019

Time to stop doubting, and start believing!

This could be a long read, so grab a coffee or tea and make yourself comfortable. This year the race was shortened slightly to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of The Cleveland Way and 10th Anniversary of the running of this event.

The route of the run went from North to South, Guisborough to Helmsley via Roseberry Topping (up and over it twice!) This proved to make this race extremely difficult due to the direction of the run. Whilst the run was as long as it was difficult, the biggest factor was the weather. This proved to be the undoing of a lot of combatants; I don’t use this word lightly, because it was a battle out there between the elements and sheer willpower. During this Race Rundown, I will attempt to, not just describe the miles I crossed, but to try and convey what was going on inside my head at the time.

Friday night before the race, full of hope and optimism, I packed my race gear, a lot of essential kit to carry on an ultra. I packed two drop bags, with extra gels and Haribo for Drop 1 at Kildale, and ham and pickle sarnies and pork pies for Drop 2 at Osmotherley. All set, good to go, early night then race day! No matter what race it is, I love race day, the excitement of what’s about to unfold, the uncertainty of how it will go, the buzz of anticipation from all the runners, its palpable.

It was raining on the morning, but did not dampen anybody’s spirits, well, not yet anyway. The race was under way 15 minutes late, after registration and everyone had to have a tracker taped to their race vest.

The first couple of miles were uphill, no surprise there, and across to the Tees Link, which was a vertical mud-bath climb straight to Highcliff Nab. This was relentless, but weather wise, shielded from the wind was not too bad. Once we got to the top and a few hundred yards later the wind came into its own just as Roseberry Topping came into view, in all its rugged splendour. Runners were already streaming down one side of Roseberry and on to Captain Cook’s Monument before I even made the first climb over it. Once up and over, we turned around and did it again then on our merry way. The wind was horrific, almost catching people off balance, this was set in for the day. After 5 miles the first of the retirements were logged.

Between mile 5 and 10, I was not in a good place. The sheer difficulty of the climb with wind, and rain combined got me thinking about the next 40 miles. My legs were stiff, knees with a niggle I have had on and off for a long time, Kildale seemed an easy decision to call it a day! Gutted!

On the approach to Kildale I started running a little more freely, maybe it wasn’t gonna end here after all. I was of course soaking wet, but not cold, benefits of carrying a few extra pounds I suppose. My inner Andy told me, get inside, hot drink, grab your dropbag and go. The problem with staying too long in warm indoor checkpoints is the fact that it’s warm and indoors!! So I decided to have a go to the next check point, up and over Bloworth Crossing to Clay Bank. It was 10 miles. I had arrived at Kildale 45 minutes ahead of cut off, so to have a go and carry on was my decision, based on the fact that if I ran every now and again my legs and knees loosened up and felt better. Off we go.

10 miles crossing Bloworth I started thinking about the next big cut off point at Osmotherley, which was a further 10 miles away and included the 3 Sisters. I had until 6.00pm to do another 20 miles. There was a small group of us traversing Bloworth together, not a lot of conversation, driving rain coming at you sideways and wind gusting up to 45mph took all of our concentration. We leap-frogged each other (not literally tho! Lol! ) on that 10 mile stretch. Each time a faster person went past, words of encouragement were given…” nice one, keep it up” … “ well done, looking strong” and other short words of motivation. The runner would then stop and walk a while, others picked up the proverbial baton and it was their turn to stretch their legs….This went on for what seemed like an eternity, but in reality, 3 hours. Bloworth is bleak on a Summer day, never mind on a day like this. But all I could think of was making Clay Bank and evaluate my mind and body as to carrying on or calling it a day.

Approaching Clay Bank the 3 Sisters loomed in the distance, looking bleak and menacing. Its only 3 hills, up an over, up and over and you’ve guessed it, up and over again. I have done this section probably a dozen times, and to be fair, its one of my favourite places. Once I dropped into Clay Bank my mind was more or less made up to carry on. A lot of bodies called it a day at that point, not wanting to go any further. And who could blame them, 20 miles of being battered has taken its toll. Inner Andy told me “its not gonna end here is it? C’mon ya big Jessie, fill your bottles grab some Jaffa cakes and go!!” I would not have forgiven myself if I didn’t at least climb the next stage to Lordstones. In hindsight, Inner Andy would have being right. I had to carry on. At our amazing club at Sedgefield, I seem to have a name for liking the hills and doing reasonably well at them for a big lad. I’m not the quickest or strongest on the flat but you just have to embrace the hills, grit your teeth and grind them out. So basically I carried on, with Inner Andy and The Harriers in my mind, Wainstones 3 Sisters were smashed and dedicated to our Club & members.

I could always stop at Lordstones Café, if I was in no shape to carry on further, call my wife to collect my body from there, while I could have had a nice pint of Guinness. Mmm more internal dialogue.

To reach Osmotherley from Lordstones I had 8 miles and 2 and a half hours to cut off at 6.00pm. I was by now moving slowly so it was going to be tight on time. I discounted stopping at Lordstones and carried on. My reasoning being, Osmotherley is easier to get to for my wife and more importantly I had pork pies there! And waiting about, for an hour in wet clothes would not have being fun. So while I was still mobile, albeit wet but not cold I went onwards.

Friends of mine caught me up on the run in to Osmotherley, it was a nice distraction to chat and have a bit of banter with them, they eventually pushed on after a few miles to try and beat cut off time. I was moving slower. I knew my race was over. I made peace with Inner Andy, had an epiphany 4 miles out from Osmotherley, and looked back on the previous 9 hours and realised what I have just done in the bleakest of conditions. I was pleased with myself for giving it a proper go, no regrets, 30 miles in the bag and lots of memories.

I made the call to my wife to meet me in the village hall. I was not upset by this, or even subdued like I was at the first attempt and being timed out 3 years ago. It was the correct decision. Whilst I was wet all day, I was never cold. But as daylight faded, the temperature dropped, so for me to carry on would not have ended well. My friends missed cut off by 6 minutes, I was disappointed for them. I trundled in at 6.24pm happy in the knowledge I had given it a proper go, my wife was already there 10 minutes before me. So the day ended with coffee and pork pies, warm dry clothes and a bag of chips from around the corner. The last half mile all I could smell was fish and chips!! And they were lovely!!

Lessons learned today were, some kit worked better than others, but only a small portion of runners managed to stay dry. All sorts of big name jackets eventually failed the weather test we had, quite a few, me included were soaked after the first 3 hours. The weather made this an extremely unpredictable and difficult race for an unsupported runner like myself and many others. But the race is designed that way, to be run in one go by oneself. Even supported runners dropped out. Some guys on the race said it was the worst conditions they have encounted, and a few of them ran last year when The Beast from the East hit the race.

Will I run this next year? Of course I will, it’s one of my favourite races in the calendar.

My run by the numbers, I do love a good bit of data:

Distance – 30.5 miles

Ascent – 8855 ft – 5 hrs 27mins of climbing

Descent – 8688 ft – 4 hrs 34mins

Heart rate average for 10 hours – 132bpm

& 2 pork pies

A couple of items of kit I had are note worthy of a mention:

Runderware anti-blister, double layered ankle sock – feet were wet all day, but no chaffing or blisters and very comfortable. Feet were as good as when I started, NO HOBBIT FEET HERE!

Lanacane anti-chafing cream – one application all day, no issues at all, nuff said!

Base layer, Under Armour Cold Gear – I may have been wet because of the extreme conditions but I was never cold.

Suunto Ambit 3 Peak – Battery life amazing, only used 37% in over 10 hours of use, and I was wearing a bluetooth chest heart-rate strap.

Thank you for reading my race rundown, at the time of writing, the full set of race results have yet to be published but will appear on the Hardmoors website. The winner did finish in 8 hrs 19 mins.


Andrew Corfield.