Race Rundown: Red Kite Trail Race, 10th July 2022

Derwent Valley Trail Race (8 miler)

Sunday 10th July 10.00 am start

Club: Derwent Valley Trail Runners

Location: Dipton Jubilee Centre

Diary notes…

Saturday 9th July. My best mate’s 50th birthday for beer and BBQ.

Sunday 10th July. Derwent Valley 8 Mile Trail Race.

Could the two events be completed without compromise? I seriously wanted to do both!

I am normally awake early on Sunday mornings for our Sunday Social, and my routine was no different. I was feeling a little fuzzy from a good few beers, burgers and sausages the day before, but all was good. Am I going over to Derwent Valley I asked myself? Damn right. It was 7.30am, the glorious sunshine and heat was already a given for the morning ahead as I supped on my coffee outside. I sorted my running gear and drinks belt out and got changed into my Sedgefield Harriers colours.

The drive over takes about 30 minutes, through Durham and Lanchester following the A691, winding your way up and across to Dipton, where the race is held. The views as I approached Dipton were stunning to the north and you could see for absolutely miles. In fact I could see scarily “down” for miles too. I parked up and made my way to Dipton Jubilee Centre, where I bumped into Sam Rudd and Karen Killingley. Both in good spirits we briefly chatted before I headed into the hall for race registration. I grabbed my number and pins and whilst I took in the breath-taking views across the valley, clocked a route map on the table. A quick study and the realisation hit home. Those stunning views right across and down the valley were only telling half the story…as I would eventually find out!

As we made our way to the village centre green on the Front Street, we were given our race briefing with some friendly welcome advice and safety info. I had a quiet laugh to myself inside, as the guy kept saying everything would be “aal reeet” at the end, I guess he was only too familiar with what lay ahead. And that was it, the whistle went and we were off.

I was on the front line of about a dozen runners and we headed along the street for 100 yards or so, and took a sharp right after the church onto the public foot-path. Straight down from here at quite a pace, this turned into a bumpy farmer’s track, a mixture of gravel and concrete towards Pontop Hall, passing a few runners. Bearing left at the bottom, it was uphill to the left side of a field, with a crest at the top to catch your breath, then another fast-paced 1km run down through the forestry track all the way to the bottom. “Wow this is brilliant I was thinking”, as I continued to snake along the track at the bottom, and then navigate the second climb. However, I knew then, that I was so far down the valley and Dipton was so far up the hill that this was going to be a really tough slog, and not to get carried away! Two runners were ahead of me from Washington #1 and Derwentside #2, and over the next few km, I kept pace with them, conscious of how bloody warm it was (understatement!). I passed #1 leading down to Southfield Farm, with my sights clocked on number two. As we entered the next field it was another long slow climb and I managed to sneak ahead of runner #2 with some great encouragement for us both from a family nearby (with two very cute dogs!).

At the end of the next track we entered the woods again, and the marshal kindly pointing out the logs and branches, as well as the stream and steep steps ahead. This was a superb technical section, but you really had to have your eyes open as it was so dark in places, otherwise you could come a cropper.

We exited the woods and onto the next section of tracks and woodland before heading over some glorious fields, over a stile and passing through Loft, a sharp hair-pin (photo opportunity) and then past Lintz Hall Farm. From this point on it was a gradual up-hill climb on a narrow road / track. I remember asking a marshal who was taking photos at the gate “What’s it looking like ahead?” To which he replied… “Don’t worry it doesn’t get any easier”. I took comfort from that to be honest. Why worry? My legs were really feeling it now though, with my watch buzzing on 9km. I just kept telling myself to dig deep. Some sections were slow, steep and undulating, so I changed my approach to big walking strides to try and gather some energy and collect my thoughts.

Taking a right turn at a farm crossing, the next section started to level off a touch now, as we made our way along the farm road, through the fields and meadows and across the stiles towards Upper Lintz. Ahead of me were a further two runners, Derwent Valley #3 and Derwentside #4. Could I catch them? Or better still could I make the top 10? I managed to open up the throttle a little and in time caught #3, but #4 was pulling away. A Blaydon Harrier #5 must have taken a wrong turn as I passed him with one final field on the cards, then it was a sharp right turn and steep grassy hill up into Dipton. I was struggling here (big strides needed again) but #3 was getting closer. One last stile and I could see the small crowd, and on to the tarmac I went, but as we got to the last right hander on Front Street, #3 was on my heels. “It’s all yours” I said, “take it away mate”. I had nothing left in the tank other than to bring it home.

I crossed the line just short of 1 hour and 1 minute, and collapsed on my knees. The heat was just unreal. I was jiggered. That was brutal. We all we congratulated each other, as I took in plenty of water. All done I thought…or was it? I heard a voice mention cupcakes. Damn right! And bloody lovely it was too.

I managed to pull myself together and waited for fellow Harrier Sam Rudd to cross the line. Another sterling effort by Sam in 1 hour and 29 minutes, as we congratulated each other and reflected on the race. An excellent run by Karen also.

Did I make the top 10? News came through on social media, that I had claimed 7th. I was absolutely chuffed. My smile was bigger than the Valley itself!!

Pete asked me for a Race Rundown, and I can honestly say the course ranks as one of the best trail races I have completed. Very similar to Old Monks but over 3km longer. It has everything. Derwent Valley put on a brilliant morning and this was a Covid re-scheduled race from 2020. Entry is £8 affiliated £10 unaffiliated, and you can’t beat it. The silhouette t-shirt is a superb souvenir also.

With more and more races coming up, I would honestly put this one in your diary for 2023. It really does deserve more entries, so I hope to see more Harriers there next year!

Thanks for reading

Mil Walton.

Race Rundown: Blaydon Race, 9th June 2022

by Elaine Noakes

Blaydon Race has been on my “to do list” since I started running in 2017 but I’ve never managed to get a place. So, when they released a few more places recently, I was over the moon to get one. Everyone has told me the atmosphere is brilliant and its worth it for the beer and ham and pease pudding sarnie at the end, although can’t say I’m a fan of pease pudding (I’m a southerner, well midlands really, and never heard of it until I moved North!!).

I was nervously excited all day. This is only my second race in a Harriers vest and I feel like a bit of an imposter, I haven’t been running as much lately so really hoped I would have a good run and my only aim was to finish and hopefully not be last. I got there early, making sure I had plenty of time for my ritual pre-race coffee and no doubt numerous loo trips I would need. I found my friends from Durham Mums, and after dropping our bags we walked over the Millennium Bridge to the Quayside where the race start has moved to. Everything I’ve been told was true, the atmosphere was buzzing and it was good to see some other harriers, I bumped into Emma Featherstone and her dad, and then Ian & Helen Hedley.

 

After getting some photos we gathered on the road, waiting for the start, which seemed to take forever. Eventually the Blaydon Races song was played and then everyone started shuffling forward, and soon we were across the start line. I started with a few friends, but we soon got separated amongst the crowds, as we ran through the streets. So many people lined the route, and it was great to hear the cheers of support.

I was conscious not to get dragged along too quickly at the start, as I really wanted to try and run as much as could without walking. I soon started to regret not bringing my water bottle with me though as it was quite muggy, and I was counting down to the water stations at the halfway point. I expected the support to dwindle as we got out of the town centre, but there were people all along the route and they spurred me on to keep running.

 

I was pleased to get the water station without walking, grabbed a cup of water, spilling half of it before drinking the rest, and then started running again. I finally seemed to settle into a rhythm and kept going, slowing for the inclines but managing to keep running. Even though I was on my own, the crowds and other runners were great in keeping me going, and there was a band which really helped too.

As we got to the first point when you turn back on yourself, I saw my friend Alison, who had shot off at the start and lost me, she was still going strong, and then I saw Helen again, who was also still going really well. That gave me another little boost, especially when the turn-around point meant another incline L. I got to about 4.5 miles and was really starting to tire, my knee and hip were starting to feel sore, I’m not used to road running so much now, as I tend to do more trail races, but I kept telling myself it’s not much further now, just try and keep running. I thought if I walked, I probably wouldn’t get going again!! There was also a steel band who were fantastic.

As we came up over a flyover, I could see another turn around point and was hoping that this would be chance to see Alison and Helen again. I missed Alison (she was still flying along) but did see Helen again which gave me another boost. I looked at my watch and had about half mile to go. As we came round past Morrison’s I was really started to flag but soon saw a 300m to go sign so I was determined not to walk now. When I got to the 100m  sign I tried to spur myself on to go a bit faster and passed a few people to the finish line, although I think I went a bit too fast as I nearly passed out when I stopped!! Thankfully I saw Alison and then Emma who looked after me until I felt a bit better.

I was pleased to get my goody bag, complete with can of beer and sandwich, and thankfully I ended up with the veggie option of a cheese sarnie so dodged the pease pudding.

Once I had recovered, I found my friend, and headed for the bus queue to go back to town for a well earned pint in BrewDog, and then had a nice walk along the quayside back to the car. The Millennium bridge looks great at night when it’s all lit up.

 

All in all, Blaydon definitely lived up to the hype. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and my time of 01:06:50 was only 2 minutes off my 10k pb, which I’m really chuffed with. I’m never going to be speedy, but I do feel a bit more comfortable wearing a Harriers vest now.

Race Rundown: Boston Marathon, 18th April 2022

The Boston Marathon is so flat that it makes pancakes look hilly, flat fish look like sharks and flat tyres look firm and bouncy. It’s flat then. That’s one reason why I wanted to do it. Another is the look on people’s faces when I tell them that I’m doing ‘The Boston Marathon.’

It’s the look that says, ‘how did that lardy git get a qualifying time?’ Naturally, I would then explain that this is Boston in Lincolnshire, which has no qualifying time and where some 17th Century religious dissenters started their journey, culminating in the voyage of the Mayflower and the founding of Boston Massachusetts, where, I understand, they also run a marathon on the same day but one which requires a sub 3:15 qualifying time.

It was my 61st birthday and I wanted to mark it with about four and a half hours of running (4 hours, 37 minutes and 27 seconds to be precise), followed by a hot bath and enough beer to alarm a public health physician.

Boston is an interesting and beautiful place. The town rests on a tidal river, so there are boats and who doesn’t like boats? The ‘Boston Stump’, St Botolph’s Church, is the largest parish church in England (according to Wikipedia) and well worth a look. There are also some other fine buildings. The imposing Century Methodist Church attests to the fact that there still a dissenter tradition in Boston. Other forms of God botherer are available.

The other thing that makes it interesting is that there are two distinct populations: a white British one and an East European one. The latter picks fruit and veg in the farms that surround the town. The former voted for Brexit by about 75%. Well, probably not the farmers who depend on the East Europeans to pick the fruit and veg but I’m just guessing.

In the evening, the East Europeans, promenade around the town or play football in the lovely central park, where the marathon runners assemble. The native Bostonians seem to go to pubs adorned with the flag of St George. Other flags are also available. These are to be found on all the East European delicatessens. So, if you want to run a marathon and pick up some Polish sausage and beer (recommended) then this is the one for you.

The race is extremely well organised. Covid precautions mean assembling in the park and being led to staggered starts in the market square, where there is still a market on Wednesday and Saturday. It’s all chip timed, and you literally get your finish time text to you as you cross the line. Impressive. The route is mostly on small country lanes. It’s not traffic free but there is so little traffic, it may as well be. There are also a half-marathon and fun-run options. The half marathon starts after the marathon, which is handy if one doesn’t want to hang about too long after the show. Both end at the local college, which is a short walk back to the town centre and pubs aplenty.

At the end you get a medal and a tee-shirt. The tee shirt is a work of art… if Dadaists made race tee shirts. Nothing sums up the supreme endeavour of running a marathon as a tractor, vegetables and some random runners. At least it has a Union Jack, just to make sure that no one thinks you ran the other Boston Marathon.

The men’s race was won by William Strangeway in 2:25:11 and the ladies’ race was won by Natasha White in 2:59:07. Show offs.

By Ian Spencer.

Race Rundown: Hartlepool Marina 5M, 10th April 2022

Trigger warning: 1610 words

I’ve always enjoyed the taking part but I’ve never been very good at the winning. That’s okay though, because it’s the taking part that counts isn’t it? Obviously, in every race there’s only one winner and for most of us, even the better runners in the club, the chance to actually win doesn’t come along that often. Which is why I like the Grand Prix. Of course, I’m biased because I administer it, but I think it’s great for encouraging a bit of friendly competition and opening up the possibility of winning something meaningful for those of us who wouldn’t otherwise.

So, let me get this out of the way before I say anything else. Graham Darby is a sound guy. I really like him. He’s a good family man, always tries hard at training and he’s got a good sense of humour, which is lucky for him as he’s also a Sunderland fan. But this year is the year I decided I’m going to win. And he’s standing between me and my prestigious Division 4 title. Next race: Hartlepool Marina 5M.

I needed a plan. So I came up with a plan. It didn’t have a name at the time, but for historical reference I’ll call it “Plan A”.

“Plan A” involved running every other day and gradually increasing my distance until I was running 10k comfortably. For reasons I don’t want to go into, but not limited to the fact that I don’t really like running, I’ve not run more than 5k for about 3 years. Rather than get straight into it, I thought I’d alternate my longer runs with 5k runs. And wishing to avoid over-reaching and risking injury, I started out with a 5k run at what I quaintly call “race pace”. This was followed a couple of days later by a 6.5k slog. It felt good; I didn’t have to slow down that much and there was little to no reaction from my legs. Now Graham and I are friends (or whatever the Strava term is) on Strava and I didn’t want him to see me upping my training regime so I altered the visibility settings on my run and let out an evil plan laugh. While I was there, I thought I’d have a neb at what he’d been up to training-wise.

Since the start of the year he’d amassed 293.9km. I’d done 166.6km. Now, I am a computer programmer by trade so I have a logical mind, but I appreciate not everyone will be able to keep up with the complex maths involved so please take it on trust when I say that’s what we in the business call “almost twice as much”. This posed a threat to The Plan. The opposition had almost twice as many miles in his legs. I’d have to run a marathon every other day to catch up, which was clearly neither feasible nor indeed desirable. My plan needed to include a strategy.

I have two strategies when it comes to running – go out with the fast boys and girls and try and hold on for as long as possible or sit in the slipstream and pull out my lightning fast sprint finish when the time comes. While the first strategy has worked for several of my parkrun PBs, it’s something of a blunt instrument and I wasn’t convinced that leaving myself 5-6km of the holding on part was going to work. So at 0900 hours on 12 March, I tried sitting behind Graham at Sedgefield parkrun and testing my sophisticated “sitting in the slipstream” strategy. It worked! Although I didn’t execute the lightning fast sprint finish phase, I was comfortably within distance had I wanted to be. But I didn’t want to show my cards, so I hung back.

At 0900 hours on 19 March, I repeated the experiment, but this time I stayed a little closer. This was definitely doable. But I was running close to threshold and I got the impression that Graham wasn’t.

As race day approached, I noted with alarm that I’d never fully realised “Plan A”. Strava espionage revealed that Graham had run some mad 20M race around Kielder the week before. Did this mean that his legs would be shot or did it mean that he’d be looking at a 5M race the way I’d look at a 1km race? I was about to find out.

A swarm of Harriers

It was almost perfect running weather as we pulled in to the Mecca Bingo car park. (Those are words I never thought I’d write.) The collective noun for harriers is a swarm and there was a small swarm of Harriers on the other side of the bingo hall where the numbers were being handed out. I got mine (87 – or one fat lady doing karaoke), pinned my radio tags on my shorts and got my mum (Alda) to pin the number on my shirt. Harriers swarmed in and out of frame as the team photo was being taken. I wish I looked as happy in end of race photos as I do in pre-race photos, but it’s never going to happen. Even in this one, you can see I’m not quite fully committed to the smiling as part of my brain is trying to formulate a new plan.

After what seemed like a long time standing around (my sciatica was killing me), we were marshalled into the starting pen. I lined up right behind Graham (mwah-ha-ha!) and waited for the starting gun. When it came, everyone in front of me ran off at the same keen-o pace. My speedometer was clocking 5 minutes per km, which is way too fast me. I thought it would be way too fast for Graham too, so I watched him disappear into the distance and hoped that the tortoise might beat the hare. “Plan B” was set in motion.

How it started

After about 3km, it was clear that “Plan B” was not cutting the mustard. Graham was too far in front and while I was reasonably comfortable, I was running at a fast parkrun pace and the lack of miles in my legs augured ill for my chances of keeping it up. I engaged evil plan laugh mode and instigated “Plan C”. This was as dastardly as a dastardly thing with a side order of dastard sauce. The following facts were true:

    • The turnaround was coming up
    • Graham knew I was in the race and behind him
    • Graham was probably running towards the top end of his ability too

The evil plan conclusion to this was as follows – as soon as I saw Graham turn around, I would slow to a walk and start hobbling. Graham would see me, be lulled into a false sense of security and slow to a jog, leaving himself vulnerable to my lightning fast sprint finish. Mwah-ha-ha-haaaaa!

What actually happened was this – Graham either didn’t notice or didn’t care and continued at his accustomed pace. I meanwhile, having lost momentum in feigning injury, struggled to get back into my stride and went from running near my threshold to running like a little old man and being overtaken by several little old ladies as I slowed to a waddle.

Graham was now a distant dot, so I recalibrated my expectations. “Plan D” was to beat my PB, which I knew was about 48 something. But 48min divided by 8km (sorry about the maths again) is 6 min/km which is the pace I was doing on the way out, rather than on the way back.

“Plan E” was to catch up and overtake the little old lady that had gone past me around about the time “Plan C” came off the rails. But I’d lost heart as well as momentum and I had an attack of the walkies. Little old lady was now also a dot.

How it ended

“Plan F” was merely to waddle to the finish line and test whether, had I actually been able to keep up with Graham until the last, I would have been able to execute the lightning fast sprint finish. The results were inconclusive. I think I probably would have done, but going over my heart rate limit wasn’t worth it without the possibility of a meaningful victory, so I held off until the final 300 yards or so and only then gave it the beans.

A kindly marshall undid my radio tags and I waddled over to join the rest of the swarm and congratulate Graham on a race well run. I also wanted to find out the result of the Raine v Letts battle at the front. A victory for the middle aged, although I’m very sure it won’t be long before Rory is beasting the longer distances as well as the 5k.

The Marina 5M is one of my two favourite races, the other being the Old Monks. (Well done Burn Road Harriers.) I like it because it’s almost entirely flat but also because I can wave and shout encouragement at my fellow Harriers as they pass me on their way back to the finish line. Graham told me later that the shouting had helped give my position away. Evil plan laugh guy is a little embarrassed about the whole thing but I won’t let it inhibit my enjoyment next time.

And so, on to the next race, which I think I have free rein on, unless someone else steps up from Division 4. They say it’s a marathon not a sprint, which is a shame because I’m much better at sprinting. Let’s see what lies ahead. Maybe I’ll even try doing some more of that running thing.

Not all plans come together…

Race Rundown: Thirsk 10 Mile, 13th March 2022

By Kathryn Forster.

 

I woke up early this morning, with feelings of both excitement and dread,

“Will I finish?”, “Will I make a fool of myself?” were the crazy thoughts spinning round in my head.

For some, bashing out a non-stop 16k is executed with the greatest of ease,

But, for me (with being a tad crazy!) it was never going to be a breeze.

I’d set myself the realistic target of finishing inside an hour and a half,

Hopefully, with minimal (if any) need to urinate, faint or barf!

I’d carefully crafted a playlist so euphoric it would make anyone be high

As a kite being flown during Storm Eunice, ensuring those miles passed swiftly by.

But I discovered that headphones were “illegal props” from chatting with Lisa Darby,

It was a bloody good job, therefore, that we’d loaded up on a tea that was good ‘n’ carby!

To get there we chose to go in the van and promote Lost Robot wide and far,

This meant splashing out on over-priced fuel and rejecting Pete King’s offer of a “free” electric car.

I remembered back to Old Monks in Hart; my very first time in a Harriers vest,

I’d layered it on top of another tee and my core temperature soared past its optimal best.

So, I opted for the ‘vest only’ look today, to keep me cool for the entire duration,

And, I have to say, despite the Yorkshire winds, I’d dressed well for the occasion.

Off the gun went bang on 10am and like a randy soldier on leave,

I went off a little too eager and fast! “Wow” I thought, “At this rate I could over-achieve!”

5.04 was my first k and even Gazbo was still in my sight,

“Slow the hell down, Kathryn!” I told myself, “And do this bloody thing right!”

After 5k had lapsed I found myself in a steady rhythm that would be hard to break,

But, lo and behold, what did I find round the bend……a bridge – FFS!!!!

My average pace dropped below 5.10 and I thought, “Well, this a damn shame….

…If I don’t make up for this dip in pace, I may not actually beat Mark Raine!”

And there in the distance – the switchback, engulfed by marshals galore,

So, I took my illegal right earphone out and stashed it until they were no more.

Little did I know the switchback would last forever and a day,

However, it was nice to pass other fellow Harriers and get the opportunity to say…….

“Well done!” to all those passing by proudly adorning white vests with blue hoops round the chest

But, there were so many other clubs wearing these too so I cheered them all on to do their best.

It was lovely to pass my hubby as I could inform him of my current fast pace.

Then, up ahead in the distance I could see a familiar face,

Hobbling along in a Harriers vest was the legend that is Mark C,

I overtook him, turned round and chanted, “Come on fella, now you overtake me!”

And just like that he sped right past like an Olympic pace-setter,

Clearly, my encouraging pep talk worked as his ankle was instantly better.

10km had now gone by and the filthy switchback was complete,

So, back in the illegal right earphone went and we continued running up the windy street.

My euphoric tunes were working well, but to the rules I must adhere,

So, when I saw marshals at the pub up ahead I removed it from my right ear.

Once safely round the bend and marshal-free I popped the little bugger back in,

‘Perfect Symmetry’ by the almighty Keane was where my musical euphoria was to begin.

But alas, the volume was apparently way too high and an angry Apple watch was born.

Clearly, this was my punishment as they really should never have been worn.

So, out it came for the last time and the rest of the race was done sans tunes,

Instead of melodic euphoria I was left with sounds reminiscent of being in a Wetherspoons.

The final kilometre was upon me and my target I was clearly going to meet,

But, there he was, a constant 50m ahead – Mark Chapman whom I secretly hoped to beat.

And there it was – the final stretch of the course where my husband said he would be to cheer,

Me on to the finishing line and then present me with a well-earned beer!

1.25 and 26 seconds!!!!!! I was so pleased I could’ve cried,

But, I couldn’t find Gary anywhere to share my overwhelming pride.

Little did I know he WAS there at the end taking pictures of little ole me,

I was soon to be met with a big proud hug as he too shared his own 1.15 51 PB!

All in all, a great running event and a repeat next year most certainly beckons,

But one thing’s for sure, there’s no freakin’ way Chappers will beat me by two measly seconds!

Race (Season) Rundown: Cross Country 2021-22

Cross Country Season Round up 2021-22

Men’s Harrier League

 

By Justin Cox

A record year for Sedgefield Harrier’s Men’s cross country team with 1st position in Division 3 and promotion but also a record year of participation with 24 runners registered and 22 of those actively competing at some point.

It all started in the balmy sunshine of Wrekenton on the 25th September.  It was such a great feeling to finally have normal mass participation running back on and the start was preceded by a one minute applause for all those lost over the Covid pandemic.

The Harrier League runs a handicap system with the majority of runners starting a season in the ‘Slow’ pack. If they finish in the top 10% then promotion is gained to the next pack, usually starting about 90 seconds behind.  With most of Sedgefield in the slow pack and a team of 11 runners we were hopeful of a good finish but not expecting 1st place in Division 3, and by some margin – a sign of things to come.  James Oldfield came in 6th overall and Stuart Ord an excellent 21st, a bit too good as it turned out; Stuart was disqualified for starting in the wrong pack, a legacy of his registration with his previous club.

Next up was picturesque Druridge Bay, the long journey often makes it a weak event for Sedgefield but again an excellent field of 11 runners including some relatively new boys in Pete Summerbell, Matthew Cooke and Mark Chapman.  Another excellent Oldfield performance strongly backed up by Mil Walton and David Walker meant another 1st place finish.  This was looking good !

Lambton Estate was next at the end of October and a brutal course was laid out with 2 seriously steep climbs negotiated 3 times.  Step forward the 2 mountain goats of Chris Lines and Gary Thwaites who along with David Bentley making the trip and excellent performances from David Walker and Mil Walton, meant another comfortable win.  With 17 runners we almost had a full C team and even the B team finished in the top 10 in the division.  Was Sedgefield becoming the next Morpeth Harriers?

27th November brought Storm Arwen so what better time to run cross country at Akley Heads.  Incredibly we got 12 runners and with many clubs struggling to get full teams it meant another win and a strong B team result.

Into 2022 and our ‘home’ fixture of Thornley.  It didn’t disappoint, the extreme mud trying it’s best to remove shoes at various points with Razza kindly marshalling at just about the worst point and clearly not missing joining in!

An added steeplechase jump before the woods caught a few out but Sedgefield triumphed again with 12 runners being led home by Mark ‘too fast’ Raine.  We only accumulated 82 points for the first 6 runners making it the best performance of the season.  A quick bit of maths and it seemed that provided 6 runners crossed the line at Alnwick the division was ours.

So to the final fixture, the long trip to Alnwick but a pleasant sunny day brought smiles all round.  Sadly the cracks in the team were evident with half of our 10 runners bringing injuries to the start line.  Despite James’ insistence (some would say threats!) that we don’t break our 100% winning record it wasn’t to be, a 6th place result but Chris Lines’ obvious pain getting over the line with 3 cracked ribs and the cheers greeting final finisher Ray evidence of the amazing effort and camaraderie we’ve had this year.

A bet was made that if we got promoted everyone would get a Mars Bar and so it proved along with a swig of champagne.

So many thanks to everybody that has run this year, even if just for a single event and of course the fabulous team that run the Harrier League.  If you haven’t already tried cross country come and join us next year – it’s actually ever so slightly better than you might fear!

 

 

Race Rundown: Baydale Beck Trail 5k, 27th February 2022

by Susan Milburn

On Sunday 27th February, I took part in the second Grand Prix event of 2022. This was the Baydale Beck 5k trail race (which was the 5th race in the Darlington trail race winter series).

This event was my third race for Sedgefield Harriers since joining with my husband Peter in January 2022.

It was a low key local event with relatively small numbers on the day. It had a nice relaxed atmosphere with friendly marshals and volunteers.  This race has previously been held on an evening in the summer.

The race starts further along from the Baydale Beck pub in Darlington and is a one lap multi-terrain course.

The route commences on a bridleway with a short out and back section along the Baydale Beck. It then re-joins the bridleway heading north pulling up to a farm.  We then turned right on the field leading us to a short footpath section on Staindrop Road. Leaving the footpath we turned right onto the Baydale Beck bridleway.  The path followed the beck and we then passed the sewerage works before joining the final trail path to the finish line.  The race distance was 3.24miles.

The conditions were cool and dry with a southerly wind. Underfoot was firm with only a small amount of mud to wade through.

Sedgefield Harriers had a good turnout making up over of third of the overall runners on the start-line.

All Sedgefield Harriers performed very well with 5 males in the top 10 finishers. The ladies also performed very well overall within the finishing positions.

At the end of race, parked in the layby after the pub was Harvey’s mobile café which offered a wide variety of refreshments which appeared to be popular with runners, dog walkers and local residents.

See results below:

https://racebest.com/results/9xv3c

 

Race Rundown: Marathon Parlauf, 23rd January 2022

By Stuart Park.

Parlauf meaning paired run or from now on – two idiots.I remember on one of our saint-trails a few of the group were talking about this run and I thought it sounded interesting but never got round to doing anything about it. Fast forward a few months and because Jane has injured herself she has persuaded me to take her place.One week to race day and I have not trained, or really run much this year. Lisa, Mark and Pete have all run half marathon PBs in the last two weeks. Me? not so much. I did run about 7 miles on the 2nd  January.It is a good running day, calm and cool and there are 3 Sedgefield teams. Graham and Rachel, Pete and Mark and Lisa and me.

The theory behind the race is simple, Runner 1 runs a mile. Runner 2 runs a mile. repeat until 26 miles are done then the two runners complete a victory lap of 0.1 miles taking the total to 13.1 each or 26.2 miles.So we started running. Lisa first, then me. I got about 5 and a half minutes rest between runs then got ready to go again. Lap 1 was too fast. Nothing new there. Laps 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 were all good. I knew I was running too fast and they were all Sub 7 minute miles however I still felt good at this point.During the first 6 laps Lisa and I had been keeping pace with two ladies from Richmond & Zetland, The Ladies in Red as I named them. Sometimes Lisa would finish ahead of their runner, sometimes behind but it was close.Lap 7 and I started a bit behind my runner; I was determined to catch her but it was getting harder. I could see Mark ahead too. He did not seem to want me to let me pass him but I was not letting the lady in red beat me. I eventually caught her at the last bend. 7 miles done. Lap 8 started and she was ahead again. There she stayed, neither gaining or losing ground. 8 miles done.The rests seemed to get shorter by this stage and the miles longer.

My times were starting to slip over the 7 minute mark too.Mile 9 and my lady in red was gone, Never to be seen again.Mile 10 was hard. 11 harder. My plan had changed and I was aiming to do them in all under 8 minutes.Mile 12 – 8:14 – oops.Mile 13- this one never ended but I just had to finish and do a tiny bit more.Lisa met me for the last bit and seemed to have boundless energy for it. I dragged myself round.

But we finished and in a good time.Now for the fun bit. Some stats:
Stuart 13.1 miles = 1:36:23Lisa 13.1 miles = 1:32:50Total time =3:09:13 (official time was a bit less because we ran the last bit together)

I would highly recommend this run to everyone next year. It is local, well organised and very social.ThanksStuart.

very detailed official results

Race Rundown: Brass Monkey Half Marathon, 16th January 2022

Records are there to be broken

Brass Monkey half marathon is the best way to kick start the new year with a PB. I have raced on many different routes and you won’t find a better course than this to achieve a PB. The only down side is it requires training through the winter months and Christmas and then race day weather is not always guaranteed in mid January.

This was only my second time running the Brass Monkey. Last time was way back in 2016 when I was aiming for a PB of sub 75mins however it wasn’t meant to be and failing to get under 75 minutes again two months later in Cardiff I pressed the pause button on my half marathon exploits. Fast forward six years and I was ready to tackle the distance again.

As every plan starts when we enter a race, we organise a period of weeks to train for the race and have big goals and a desire to put our all into the training ready for the big day. I am no different, I entered the race. planned out a 12 week training block ready to get that elusive sub 75 PB and 2 weeks in life gets in the way: work, kids, Christmas and so instead of quitting I just kept re setting that training plan. I am not one for quitting, reset, reset, reset. Having reset a few times and invested some money into these new carbon shoes, training started to come together. I managed 5 good weeks out of the 12 planned and concentrated on quality rather than quantity. Like many I don’t have the time to run 40 mile weeks so I just concentrate on practising running at my race pace when I get the chance, even if it’s 8:30pm on a Tuesday night.

I finally reached the end of my plan and it was race week. I was fortunate enough to have a good last week which made me feel much better and I had been able to run at my goal pace of 5:40 min per mile which would just get me under that 75 minute mark.

As always, the day before the race you want to be relaxing getting a good night sleep etc etc. In reality we have to continue our daily lives, take the kids to gymnastics, tidy the house, do the washing, get the shopping, all before having an early night?? In my dreams, if I had time to dream!!! An extremely disruptive night sleep meant the best option I had was getting in the car at 5am, drive down to York and get some sleep in the car before the race. Race bag scrambled together, grabbed some food for the drive and a hydration drink and set off for York. As I got nearer to York I passed a McDonalds and was far too hungry not to stop for a double sausage and egg McMuffin, and you thought us fast runners ate well!! That demolished I headed to the race course to find a layby to get 45 minutes kip before having to get parked and think about warming up.

Alarm set for 8:30 I finished my last bit of porridge and fell asleep. I awoke to a few noisy dog walkers and a beautiful sun rise, it was going to be a clear day with perfect running conditions. I got parked in the official car park and had a walk around the race course to wake my legs up and catch up with some friends. I’ve missed racing and big events, the buzz around the start catching up with runners you’ve not seen for ages, except stalking their Strava profiles. It had been six years since I last raced a half marathon and I was nervous. I had failed on two attempts to get sub 75 minutes six years ago and not raced the distance since. It was soon time to be in the pens ready to be led to the start like cattle to Bolams! It was at that point I realised how much i had missed racing and being amongst others that were there for the very same reason, to get that PB.

The stage was set, loads of fast runners, a course known for being fast, carbon super shoes on my feet and the most important factor, the weather, it was glorious. I had my race planned out: 5:40 min per mile then at mile 10 kick on and see what’s left. The gun went and we were off, I was in a good group of runners and felt good, mile 1 flew by and the watch said 5:31, wow! I didn’t need to panic I felt good, there were plenty of good runners around me and so I thought just keep going and let the race dictate. As each mile went past I was maintaining that 5:30 pace, although 10 seconds per mile quicker than I wanted I was feeling good. I got to mile 6 and took my planned gel, I was nearly half way and was in good shape. The shoes were doing their job and I was loving racing.

The half marathon begins at 8 miles so as we neared this mark I knew the pace might increase from the group. It did a little bit but I was able to keep going and we were closing in on the last 3 miles, the point in my plan I thought I would kick on and empty the tank. But I had run 10 miles 10 seconds per mile quicker than planned, so lacking a bit of confidence I stayed with the group and thought to myself I’ll go at 11 miles. We hit mile 11 and started to approach the only incline in the race. As we started to climb the group started to break up into single file and I kicked on up the hill and down the other side and kept going. I had left them and was gaining on the runners ahead. I started to open up my legs and put in an 800m sprint to the finish line to dip under 72 minutes! Official time 71:56 (1:11:56). I crossed the line knowing I had run the best race of my life and achieved a time I could only dream of.

In the car before I set off home I had a quick check to see if that was the Sedgefield Harriers half marathon record, which it was and then I checked to see if I had done enough to get a championship entry to London Marathon 2023 which I had. Putting two and two together I checked the Harriers marathon record which was set back in 2009 2:41:41. So this will now be my next target in 2023 at London.

I was extremely fortunate that on the day everything came together, weather, good runners, and the perfect course. I am all too aware it doesn’t always happen this way. It is not always possible to have the perfect preparation or for life to go smoothly to allow us to train when we want and how we want. But as long as you don’t quit you will at some point achieve whatever it is you wanted.

Don’t QUIT, just RESET

James Oldfield

Brass Monkey HM 2022

Race Rundown: Stuart Pailor Memorial (Old Monks) Race, 2nd January 2022

On Sunday 2nd January, I took part in the first Grand Prix event of 2022, the Old Monks Trail Race starting & finishing in Hart village. Although there was a significant turnout of Harriers it was freezing cold, so we didn’t gather for much of a pre-race chat although we were persuaded out of our vehicles for the pre-race photo before moving to the start line. And then we were off!

Together forever…

As I was recovering from having had covid over Christmas my race plan was to simply enjoy it and not get stuck in one of the denes! I set off with Beth and we decided to run it together but if either of us felt strong and wanted to go ahead that’s what we would do. Running down from the top of the hill, we headed into the first dene and as I am generally unstable on slippery downhills, I took it cautiously and Beth got ahead of me only for me to catch her on the uphill. This pattern continued for the majority of the race helped by the lovely marshals giving us loads of support and encouragement on route. We managed to catch up and then overtake Mike Wood, but Gary and Kathryn Forster were playing it tactically. Once Gary spotted us approaching from behind, they seemed to step it up a gear and we just couldn’t close the gap. We also played a game of cat and mouse with a lovely lady from Saltwell Harriers who gave us encouragement every time we went past, and we did the same to her.

… and never to part…

The route is a mixture of uphill and downhill with road, trail, gravel, and mud! We even managed to catch a glimpse of the sea at the start and finish.

Together forever we two… No, wait!

As we approached the last hill, Beth fell a few paces behind me so I waited for her at the top as I thought we had come this far so we would finish together. We ran into the last section together until Beth spotted the finish line and realised an extra grand prix point was up for grabs if she could get past me and so she did!! She found an extra gear, sped past & left for dust and I had no chance to respond, I was beaten.

Well done, Beth, points mean prizes!

Congratulations to all Harriers on their individual performances in this thoroughly enjoyable first race of the Grand Prix. I would highly recommend it to other members of the club as an ideal race to burn off those Christmas calories.

By Georgina Letts.

Results: http://www.hartlepoolburnroad.co.uk/results/Old%20Monks%20Jan%202022%20Results.pdf