Race Rundown: Leas Marathon, 24th February 2019

2019 Leas Marathon, around South Shields and Souter lighthouse. The course is mainly on gravel coastal paths with some gentle inclines. It can be tough if it’s windy, but we had perfect running conditions today. I travelled and ran with Ray and we saw Ben Swales on the course too. I haven’t seen any results yet so I’m not sure how Sedgefield Harriers faired on the day.

I really enjoy North East Marathon club events. No massive nightmare getting to the start line and the relaxed atmosphere is always welcome. Ray picked me up and we headed up the coast. As usual the conversation turned to food. It was the AGM that day too so there would be a buffet! Back-up would be a Big Mac Grande and a Twix McFlurry. The buffet was great so no trip to the golden arches was needed.

The weather was fine in Wingate, but the fog was so thick in South Shields you couldn’t see more than 50 meters in front of you! We found the tent, picked up our numbers and got ourselves ready to run. It was a staggered start, so Ray and I started on our own. No race briefing or anything like that, just turn up and run. Ray and I decided to run together. It’s great to have company and miles seem to pass much quicker when chatting. Basically, I talk about food for a few hours with a bit of cross county, football and other running chat too, but it’s mainly food.

The thick fog made it hard to stay on track during the first lap and we took a few wrong turns. Maybe I shouldn’t blame the fog… I have run this marathon a few times and always get the route wrong. Nothing major and the distance still adds up to marathon distance. We even followed fellow marathon clubber Paul Blakey thinking he knew the course, but he went wrong too. No harm done and we quickly got back on track. The fog made everything wet too! You could see dew on runners’ hats, my feet got wet and I could even feel water on my eye lashes. The route was basically two out and backs with a little loop at each end. You did these 4 times, so you kept bumping into other runners throughout the whole event. I love this type of event when it’s a small field of runners.

I wasn’t sure if I drank too much water or my compression gear was too tight, but I kept needing the toilet. Luckily you ran past public toilets so I didn’t have to wait too long before I could go again.

The run was going well, we ran well together and pretty much chatted for the whole run. The sun made an appearance too and we were treated to a beautiful sunny afternoon in South Shields. We could see a warship just out to sea which was pretty cool. I started looking at my watch and could see a sub 4 marathon was achievable if we kept moving at a reasonable pace, but I kept needing to pee and Ray needed to stretch to keep cramp at bay so it would be close. We did manage to just sneak under 4 hours so that was great.

After the run we made our way to the AGM. This is a great time to chat and catch up with everyone plus take care of club business. Peter King came to the AGM so four Harriers in total at the event. The food was great! A simple but lovely fish and chip buffet with pasta for vegetarians and vegans. I love fish and chips, but never eat it so this was a proper treat for me.

Everyone received a Marathon Club travel mug as a surprise gift! This was a really nice touch, and everyone seemed pretty chuffed with it. After that we said our goodbyes and headed home. It was a long, but very enjoyable day out at the seaside.

All in all, a great day out catching up with running friends and another step closer to completing my 100th marathon. Thanks to Razza for the lift and the company and everyone at NEMC who helped put on another great event.

By Gary Thwaites

Results: http://www.northeastmarathonclub.co.uk/the-leas.php

Race Rundown: Tees Barrage 5k Trail, 24th February 2019

I decided about 5 weeks ago to give this run ago.  As I am fairly new to the Sedgefield Harriers family I thought that a 5k race would be nice for a change (short).

I am a keen gym member and go most mornings when everybody is still in bed (it’s the only time I get to do it).  I normally do weights a couple of days and a couple of classes as well.  Four weeks ago doing star jumps!! I rolled over on my ankle which has resulted in me not running.  My husband Richy says I have done nothing but twist as I have not been out running, so I have just been walking the dogs instead.

Anyway, enough twisting.  The journey to the race was very easy to find and well described on the actual race page.  There were loads of parking places and as usual I had a panic on thinking that I was going to be late, however we had plenty of time for at least 4 toilet visits (ha ha this is normal).   I always get really nervous before a race even though I have been running for a couple of years. The registration was straightforward and easy as my details were already listed and there was no queue.  I like this time of the event as I like to talk to different people to get their feedback on the race and also check out how many fit people are about!!

There was a slight nip in the air, however I was brave enough to just put a t-shirt under my Harriers vest instead of a long sleeve top.  Again this is something I always do before a run, I put too many layers on, and Jane Spink rocks on up in a vest and shorts. It was lovely to see so many Harriers at the start and made my nerves drop a little bit.  In fact I think we had the majority of runners for a specific club. I got talking to Stuart who was giving me the run-down of the race.  He did say that there was one slight hill and unfortunately you have to tackle this twice. Apart from that it was a nice race.  Bingo!

I am not sure what is worse, knowing the route or not knowing the route?

The first mile into the race and I felt good, no niggles, so far so good.  If you closed your eyes for just 1 second (only kidding I didn’t do this really) you would have thought it was a summer’s day i n July; nope it was 24th February.  Fantastic weather.  Anyway back to the race, we tapered off in to the woods and it wasn’t too muddy and was well marshalled throughout.

Coming in for the final stretch and yes I knew what was coming, the final hill, However I seemed to attack it as I knew the finishing line was just straight after and downhill. I finished the race in 24 minutes, well that’s what my Fitbit says. Very pleased with my time especially with my ankle not being 100%.

A very well organised and friendly race and pleased I took part and will definitely do it again. I look forward to people updating Facebook with future runs just so that I know what to enter next please.

By Lisa Martin

Results: https://events.stockton.gov.uk/media/1967/tees-barrage-5k-feb-results-2019.pdf

Race Rundown: English National Cross Country Championships Harewood House, Leeds, February 23rd 2019

I t turned out to be a lovely day, however I had three layers of clothes on as I am normally cold. I also had 3/4 length leggings and so went to buy some shorts at one of the stalls. However they only had little tiny ones. I said, I like my backside covered up thank you! Everyone at the stall was laughing.

I got to the start line where you were guided to pens with numbers on where you had to stand and everyone was spread out along the field. It was a brilliant sight to see all the ladies in a line at the start. The gun went and everyone charged to the middle. With 1034 ladies charging up the hill you got a bit stuck at times with arms, legs and uneven ground to contend with. It was a very warm day and quite a few ladies pulled out, it was very tempting; however I was very determined to finish.

T here was a slight wind which was nice to cool off, a few inclines and two lovely down hills. No mud either to my delight as running round fields is not my favourite racing. It was supposed to be a training run (ha ha) however I did have a good race as I was two and a half minutes quicker than last year (maybe not that fast at 40.10 for the 5 miles and placed 492nd). It was a very friendly atmosphere but I was the only lady Harrier running.

Do I love cross country racing? No, but it’s good training… x

By Lisa Darby

Results: https://www.englishcrosscountry.co.uk/news/saucony-english-national-xc-results-2019/

Race Rundown: Hardmoors 26.2 Trail Series Saltburn Half Marathon – 9th February 2019

Sunday 9th February is the first event of the Hardmoors 26.2 Trail Series. This consists of 7 race venues throughout the year, in and around The North Yorkshire Moors. Each race day has 3 events, 10k, half marathon and full marathon. I have run this event every year since it started in
2013, mainly 10ks, but today was a half marathon for me.

The race itself starts from the Saltburn Recreation Centre and heads towards the Valley Gardens and down to the seafront within the first mile or so. This is the only flat bit on the course and from here the only way is up! We headed to the cliff tops and started a very long ascent, terrain was actually quite good for the most part (more to follow on that statement) and the weather was actually quite kind today. No driving sleet and snow like last year.

A caption here

It was a little breezy on the tops, nothing like the past day or so, which actually caused the RD (Jon Steele) to divert the route as it would have been too dangerous in high winds in certain places. This shortened the route by over a mile, but we still had over 14 miles of race to complete.

Hardmoors miles are approximate!! Value for money Jon calls it.

Sadly today I was the only Harrier out there. In fact I am at most of these
events. I’m not sure what this says about me, answers on a postcard please! LOL.

The course follows the coastline for a few miles, views are fantastic, runners strung out along the cliff tops, it’s an inspirational sight. We then headed inland on the loop back, via public footpaths, country lanes and bridle paths. Some fields were a little muddy, lots of slipping about but manageable for the most part. Until that is, I came to a sharp downhill; it was very muddy and slippery, bearing in mind some 400 or so marathoners and others had made this what it was. Deadly. I nearly escaped with a controlled slide, but a fight between me and gravity was only going to end one way, me on my backside sliding down the rest of the way.

Back at the race finish I received my medal and shirt. A hot coffee, biscuits and cake, a chat to good friends I only see on race days, then start off back home, another one in the bag! Time was 3hrs 55mins, not fantastic, but a good solid training run for bigger things later and good for a kit evaluation and maybe tweaking a few things for other runs. These runs have a compulsory kit requirement which consists of : waterproof jacket with taped seems – hat – gloves – 500ml water – map and direction guide – emergency food – and survival bag.

These events are very well organised and safe, checkpoints every few miles with lots of goodies. Marshals who are experienced trail and ultra runners, look after every athlete, it’s one big family, The Hardmoors Family, and it’s open to everyone! Thank you for reading.


by Andrew Corfield

Race Rundown: Valentine’s 10k, Newcastle, 17th February 2019

Having run this race last year I was looking forward to returning to the Town Moor in Newcastle to run the Valentine’s 10km again this year. Due to concentrating on longer distances recently I was interested to see how I’d get on over a distance that I used to run regularly and on a course that is relatively fast. 

Due to the leisurely 10.45am start time I didn’t need to leave too early and picked up Nicola en route. Having found parking tricky last year we decided to park in Gateshead and have a jog to the start over the iconic Tyne Bridge and through the Toon to the start. This turned out to be a good move as the Central Motorway appeared to be closed causing the traffic to tail back as we jogged merrily on. We got to the start and I had expected to see a few Harriers out as it had been a Grand Prix event last year and was really well attended. However, having collected my number, there was only myself representing Sedgefield that I could see. I bumped into some friends from Hartlepool Tri and then having discussed the usual pre-race topics of “What time you expecting?” and “How’s the injury feeling?” I headed off for a warm up. There was a 5k event just before the 10k this year so having run the first section of the route the first runners of the 5k were starting to cross the line as we stretched off and dumped clothing into the baggage drop. 

T he Run Nation events always seem well organised so we were in the Start chute on time and with a last ‘Good Luck’ to each other we were ready to go. The course is 2 laps of the Town Moor, heading from Wylam Brewery across to Gosforth and then working your way round the Moor and back to the Brewery. It was apparent coming over the Tyne Bridge that there was a substantial breeze but as I headed out on to the Town Moor for the first frantic mile I realised we were going to be battered coming back as I was getting pushed along by a very pleasant, but very strong, tailwind. This prediction came true about halfway through the first lap as I headed back to the brewery, looking at nothing but my feet as I kept my head down, trying to tuck in behind anybody close enough to offer any protection. Fortunately this didn’t last too long and soon enough I was passing the start and heading out on my second lap. Once again I managed to pick up heading away from the start and was still hopeful of matching my sub-40 time of last year. These thoughts soon evaporated however as I really struggled turning into the wind again on the second lap. 

I finished in just over 40mins which I was more than happy with considering the training I’m currently doing. Nicola however ran a massive PB, showing that it is a fast course, even in windy conditions. I’d definitely recommend the race as for 2nd year running it’s been well organised and a pleasure to run in. 

By Ian Blakemore

Results: http://www.racetecresults.com/results.aspx?CId=16685&RId=153&EId=1&dt=1

(editor’s note: modestly, Ian doesn’t mention a fine 3rd in his age category)

Race Rundown: Hardwick Park Winter Wonder 6 Hour Run 20th January 2019

Guest post by Melanie Horan of the North East Marathon Club

As part of our Winter Wonder series, the North East Marathon Club decided to go on tour this year and on the advice of Pete King, hold an event in Hardwick Park. After a recce of the parkrun route in autumn 2018, the NEMC committee decided the park and the parkrun route would be perfect for our event, and a welcome change from running around the Town Moor. This seemed a popular choice and for the first time ever, we had to close entries as we were full and start a waiting list for the event. After the slight worry of snow earlier in the week and a covering of frost on Saturday morning, the weather was reasonably mild at the start of the day, with the sun making an appearance later on. The course conditions were excellent, dry with no puddles or mud, with the only obstacles being a dangerous looking gaggle of geese and a game of swans on the path beside the lake.

Another first for NEMC was the Race Director’s role being taken on by Catherine Smith and Kerry Barnett of NEMC and Elvet Striders, who did a fantastic job of race set up, managing the marshals and time keeping. Registration ran smoothly and it was fantastic to see so many Sedgefield Harriers on the start line, and thanks again must go to Pete for persuading you all to enter! The race began in the usual NEMC manner, without ceremony or incident and after running for a few hundred metres, it was amazing to look back and see swarms of runners along the path.

For those of you who don’t already know me, I am a bit obsessed with the marathon distance, and this was to be my 93rd marathon. I am still absolutely rubbish at pacing myself and set off, as usual, as if I was running a 5k, desperate to keep Gary Thwaites in my sight for at least the first mile. I was pleased to see my good friend and fellow terribly paced runner Omar had also set off at a ridiculous pace, and I had a little bet with myself as to whether I would catch him at 18 or 20 miles as usual. I ran the first few laps with Ben Smale who had kindly marked out the course for us earlier and we had a good chat about pacing and ultra marathons, neither of which are a talent of mine.

Ben made his escape after about an hour, and I ran the rest of the race by myself, although not alone as I was continuously speaking to runners I was passing or were passing me. In case you are wondering what I think about while running, main themes include what is for tea, how long is it until I can visit the sweets and pop buffet (drinks station, which was exceptionally well stocked today thanks to our RDs), whether I need to stop at the toilets, how long it will be until I catch Omar and how much different parts of my body are hurting. Today I had the added fear of having to run through the hissing geese and evil swans, who everyone knows will break your arm if you get too close. To my horror, one of the geese actually ran into me and I felt its wet, slimy beak touch my leg! All was going well until about 22 miles when I had to make an emergency pitstop and spent about 5 minutes in the toilets. After that I found it hard to get going again and really slowed down. I managed to finish my 93rd marathon in 3:51, which is about average for me these days. A great venue, really friendly runners and fantastic support from the volunteers, we will definitely be back in 2020. Incidentally, I passed Omar at 14 miles….

By Melanie Horan

Results: http://www.northeastmarathonclub.co.uk/winter-wonder-runs.php


Race Rundown: Gerry Kearsley Winter Handicap, 13th January 2019

Distance: 10k (ish)

Terrain: Mainly off road on farm tracks, footpaths and the disused railway line. Dry and good surface.

Weather: Dry, bright sun, cold, but extremely windy which made the run quite challenging.

I love the Gerry Kearsley Handicaps, they are a really friendly free event, running through beautiful countryside and I always get to set off first. I have run not run a winter handicap for a number of years as I have invariably had a cold over Christmas but having avoided the usual illnesses I was raring to go on Sunday 13th January.

This start of the Handicap was particularly poignant due to the recent death of Peggy Kearsley who was such a fantastic supporter of the event, Sedgefield Harriers and was a lovely lady. Ean paid a very moving tribute which was followed by a 30 second silence.

A key section of the usual route from Fishburn along the River Skerne was closed. This meant that as an alternative the Handicap was a two lap course starting from the Community Centre in Bishop Middleham. Almost immediately after setting off there was a steep climb through the village, past a farm and houses. Once at the top the road dips down, giving me a chance to recover before turning left heading out into the countryside around Bishop Middleham and following a track to the River Skerne. This route immediately gives the runner beautiful views and passes historic landmarks, the castle ruins and medieval wall.

The route continued along the track, over a footbridge crossing the River Skerne, then turning left to carry on along the disused railway line. This is a good steady section with flat running before turning left again over the river and climbing back towards the village. This was the tough section running uphill into a very strong wind. At one point I thought I was running backwards! Once through the fields it’s down then up and down again into the village. If that’s your first lap then you have to do it all over again.

I found it a tough run because of the wind but I was really pleased with my performance. I didn’t have quite so many runners overtaking me as normal so maybe others found that last couple of miles quite challenging. It was a great atmosphere before and after the run with the enjoyable presentation ceremony at the end. The Handicap is a really inclusive event where different runners can succeed and get their hands on a bottle of wine and their name on the shield.

I hope to be back in July for the next one.

By Anne Gladwin.

Results: http://www.sedgefieldharriers.co.uk/gerry-kearsley-handicap

Race Rundown: Brass Monkey Half Marathon, 13th January 2019

Brass Monkey has been a firm fixture in the northern running calendar for a number of years and is one of the most popular half marathons attracting runners from the Scottish Borders down to the Midlands. Fast and flat it’s somewhat surprising only a handful of Harriers run it each year. This year saw myself and Ian Spencer running with Emma Featherstone (and the sprogs) and Jayne Freeman on supporting duties.

Starting at York race course and heading to Bishopthorpe, Acaster Malbis and Appleton Roebuck before heading back to the race course, it follows scenic country roads and is ideal for a fast time. Bit of fun running in gale force winds but at least carrying a few pounds meant I didn’t get blown over.

The race is hosted in excellent facilities in the Ebor stand at York Racecourse.

So this makes an eventful race report….after a steady 5 and a half miles battling strong winds and holding a steady pace my race took a downward turn. Running in a group I was unable to see a pothole and did my best pavement surfing routine and hit the deck. Covered in blood on hands, knee and head (due to hands) and with a set of sore ribs and bruised hip, after a minute on the floor I dusted myself off and continued on my way, getting some funny looks like I’d just been in a slasher movie.

Losing time and with adrenaline wearing off I dropped pace and managed to make it to the finish line having dropped 6 mins away from my goal and made it in 1h42 (not the 1h36 I was on for). Just over 7 minutes later Ian followed and met his goal of going sub 1h50 with 1h49.

The post race memento was the ever fantastic long sleeved Brass Monkey tee shirt, this year in a fetching purple shade. The t shirt allows for the creation of an ‘Ass Monkey’ shirt when worn under a short sleeved t shirt for a bit of fun. Was also nice to get a wooden medal to celebrate 40 years of York Knavesmire Harriers.

By Andy Featherstone

Results: https://resultsbase.net/event/4596/results

Race Rundown: Stuart Pailor Memorial (Old Monks) 5.5 Mile Trail

6th January 2019. I shouldn’t have looked back at my race notebook (doesn’t every running geek have one?!). It has been 8 years since I last ran the Old Monks (now called the Stuart Pailor memorial run) and I was having one of those ‘why did you enter this’ moments.  If I wasn’t getting picked up I might have feigned illness. I’ve been in the Sedgefield Harriers since the beginning but MIA for most of the last 7 years since 3 small people have arrived and caused havoc with my running schedule. I’ve only completed a handful of races over the last few years and I’m a bit race ‘rusty’.

I remember Old Monks to be freezing (well it is the beginning of Jan and yes it was, but not as bad as some previous years), brutally hilly through the dene (yes and need to remember you go through the dene twice and save some energy for the second hill) and fast on the roads on the way back (or as fast as tired legs can go). There were 294 runners which is 5 times as many as the last time I ran it but it still has the friendly feel of a local trail race. The village hall is lovely and warm, serving coffee and cake. It’s well organised and relaxed and once we had set off all nerves disappeared and it was great to blow the Christmas and New Year cobwebs away (powered by child free euphoria and caffeine).  

29 Sedgefield Harriers took part which is a fantastic turn out with some amazing results. David Bentley was 4th Male overall, Justin Cox was 1st male Vet45, Ciaran Lines was 1st U20 and I was an unexpected 1st female Vet 35 (which I think was more down to luck that there were not many V35 runners rather than speed). The prize money will be just about enough to pay for my next Costa coffee and I’ll be back next year, as like a true running geek, I loved every second! 

By Rosie Warnett

Results: http://www.hartlepoolburnroad.co.uk/results/Old_Monks_Jan_2019_results.pdf

Race Rundown: The McTaggart Trot. Barton, near Darlington. Sunday 23rd of December, 2018

The McTaggart Trot is unique. Teams of three, more or less randomly deranged, set off at the pace of the slowest runner to cover the first leg of four miles. They (the first leg runner) are then free to go back on the bus of leisure, where canapés are served by a liveried flunky (not really), run the four miles back to the start, complete the second leg of seven and a half miles, before dropping out, or run the whole 11 miles. The second leg runner is faced with similar choices at 7.5 miles while the final leg runner is obliged, on pain of death, to finish the 11 mile scenic, undulating, route around t’country lanes of Yorkshire.

O nly the final leg runner has the ‘chip’ on their ankle (I had to be content with the one on my shoulder). So, the 11 miler could just blast round on their own but that wouldn’t be in the spirit of the event. And this event is all about spirit. Fancy dress is optional but almost universal and it’s all for charity, mate. The whole thing is in aid of St. Theresa’s Hospice and probably raised about £2000, as most chip-in more than the £8 entry fee. This event is steadily growing and deserves to. This year 75 teams, with no other ambition but to enjoy thems-elves dressed in a variety of suitably festive gear, apart from one bewildering Power-Ranger or whatever and a very sparse sprinkling of people whose countenance screamed ‘bah! Humbug!’

Sedgefield Harriers were represented by Jayne ‘Santa’ Freeman, who took the first leg of our team 19. I ran the 2nd leg, as an elf with a pituitary gland disorder and our 3rd leg runner (not a Harrier) ran as the ghost of Christmas can’t be arsed. Pete King hedged his bets by running faster than any of us in team 62, wearing Santa’s tropical kit.

The organisational team is superb under the admirable captaincy of Grant McTaggart and results in a race that just makes you feel good and brings forth a mountain of cake at the end.

Times? Who cares? But, for the record, the race was ‘won’ by Team 54 (Abbie McCartin, Pauline Brown and Peter Armstrong) in 1:22:09. Their split times were: 32:25, 26:26 and 23:18, respectively.

Team 19 (Jayne Freeman, Ian Spencer and Sarah Guy) 1:40:07 in 44th place. Our split times were 40:08, 31:40 and 28:18.

Team 62 (Susan New, Julie Whinn and Pete King) 1:40:57 in 47th place. Split times 28:08, 45:48 and 27:01.

We’ll be back next year, having found a way of making sure our costumes don’t smell.

By Ian Spencer.