As with many challenges, this was first discussed some months back in a pub. Put simply, run a 10K every 3 hours for 24 hours. Do as many as you want, either consecutively or as a pair running every other one. It’s only a 10K, and you get over 2 hours rest between runs. How hard could it be? In the words of one Captain George Mainwaring, “Stupid boy!!”
I arrived for the safety briefing at race HQ (Barton Village Hall), which also doubled as our accommodation for the event, and learnt that there would be 18 of us setting off. A number were only there for a couple of the runs and others would join us during the night. I managed to find a gym mat in the corner of the hall and dragged it across to a quiet corner, strategising as to how to get undisturbed rest between runs and leave me fresh and race ready, “Stupid boy”.
So 6pm came and we set off for the first time on the 10k route, taking us on a short loop around the village (choice of through the ford or over the footbridge), before heading out along very quiet undulating country lanes. Just a couple of hills as we headed into Middleton Tyas and then a lovely gentle 2 miles downhill back into Barton, easy “Stupid boy”.
Straight back to the village hall to get some pasta, a doughnut (food of champions) and some water down my neck as quickly as possible so that I didn’t run out of steam later on and stayed hydrated. I began to think at this point that I would be fine, and that my concerns about nutritional requirements for prolonged period of effort were unfounded, “Stupid boy”.
The atmosphere within the village hall was pretty good, and 9pm came around quickly. Off we set, at a modest pace, completing the route in just under an hour. I resisted the temptation to join a couple of the others in the pub and after some food and a baby wipe body wash, settled in to my sleeping bag to get some rest. I failed miserably to get to sleep so got myself ready in high vis gear and headtorch for the midnight run.
I really struggled with the 3am run and as we finished the 6am run I knew I couldn’t make another, the breaks after every circuit were taking their toll on my legs and to be fair my mileage for the event was higher than my weekly average.
A great event, where you get to know the name and toilet habits of every single competitor – I’ll certainly be back if its repeated, but without the doughnuts, “Stupid boy”.
This race started for me back at the Tees Barrage trail race in Stockton when I got talking to another club runner about sub 40 minute 10ks and fast 10k courses. We were running around the same time on the 5ks and he said he had managed to get under at Dishforth last year (just!) and I should give it a go.
Chasing people around the x-country races for the last few months has helped with the endurance but I needed more speed so I printed off a 10k training guide to put a bit of science behind my training.
From there on I sort of stuck to a plan (see attached guide / hieroglyphs)
Around this point I thought it would be good to recruit a training partner with a similar goal and I mentioned the race to John Haycock who with a bit of persuasion took up the challenge
My 7 weeks training went sort of to plan with the odd race and X/C thrown in but John was suffering with various injuries that really knocked his training. In the weeks running up to the race he did not think he was going to make the start at all.
Race day came and me, John and Simon travelled down together to a clear, sunny but windy Dishforth
As you passed the entrance to the main camp I noticed the armed guards (note, don’t upset the marshals on this race). There was no problem parking but there was a long queue for the numbers so not much time for a warm up if you were in the S-Z line.
The race got under way and we all set off in quite a tight bunch and with words of encouragement (or that’s what I hope they were shouting) we all settled into our own races.
My guide was just to keep as close to a 4 min/k as possible and try not to go off too fast but the wind was going to be a problem as there is no shelter on an airfield apart from the other runners.
The 1st lap went to plan and with other runners still in bunches you got a bit of a rest from the head wind down the 1k straight but on the 2nd lap the runners were spreading out and I had a decision to make, whether to tuck in behind a runner down the long straight and hope to pick up the pace again on the return. So that’s what I did, but as it turned out I only followed the runner half way then had to go past, as I watched the pace falling away (you can see the result on my heart rate on the right of the details below! Not sure what happened when it goes off the scale, must have been thinking about the sprint finish!)
I spent the rest of lap just trying to get my average pace back to 4 min/k and looking for other runner to act as a wind break as I turned back into the wind for the finish,
I did find one at about 8.5k but he pulled up with a hobble before the final straight (obviously oblivious to his new role as my wind break!)
I managed to get over the line in 40.12 chip time which was the closest I have been to a sub 40 10k and this is definitely a quick 10k course given the right conditions (no wind!)
So the chase goes on I just need a straight, downhill, course with a following wind on the day!
Episode 3: Marske 10k (Everybody Active), 9th June 2019
Scenic, flat course
Sunny 15 degree, windy
Attendance Me, John, Roger, Janet, Julia
Well after the previous two attempts were scuppered by the prevailing weather, conditions and undulating courses, this was probably going to be the last attempt at a sub 40 before September, due to increasing temperatures and triathlon training.
John had come across this race via Roger who had raced it numerous times in the past and set some of his 10k PBs on the course, so after finding it I duly signed up and watched the weather forecast with fingers crossed.
As race day arrived we boarded the crew bus (Thanks for the lift Roger) and headed off for the race, I was informed from John I had a new mascot (Roger) on this 3rd attempt. I think John was feeling the pressure of the previous two attempts, even though I did say to him I would not force him to go to every flat 10k until I made it.
We made the start in good time, picked up the numbers, bumped into Julia and Janet for a chat and made the final obligatory toilet stop before the short walk to the start.
The route was a loop around the housing estate, out onto the seafront towards Redcar, with a double loop on the end then back down the front to Marske with the finish flag on the seafront.
After the race director’s quick talk (make sure you run over the timing mat and avoid the traffic) we wished each other well and were off.
Roger said he was not 100% but set off like a rocket leaving me and John setting a pace close to 4min/km. My plan was the same as the other races as I thought I would be looking at just getting under the time, so I would try to get to 9km as economically as possible at a 4min pace, then hope I had enough left to keep pushing to the finish.
When we got onto the front I found myself running with a New Marske Harrier who looked to be running the same pace and I guessed he knew the course, he also made a good wind break on the way out.
Up to about 8 km there was not much to say. I ran, checked the pace, ran, checked the heart rate, ran. It was about this point when I caught Roger and as I passed he gave me some words of encouragement (I was hoping he was still on for a sub 40) as my watch was not beeping on the km markers any more so left me wondering if it was going to affect the pacing.
As I got to the 9km I remember thinking ‘well I have got this far’ and the pace was about right. It was all about the last kilometre and I didn’t fancy doing it all again if I end up at 40:00. Should I look at my pace or heart rate? Would I slow down if it said 200 BPM? Not likely!
As the Marske Harrier slowly pulled away, another group formed around me (it’s funny how you feel you’re running well if your one stride ahead but hanging on if you’re one stride behind) so I decided the best course of action was just to run as fast as I bloody could to the flag. If they came past, well I could not complain.
The last few metres were caught on camera, me with a definite grimace on my face but the runners around me looking fine. Still, they all helped keep me going or pushing me on in some way on the day.
All the Sedgefield Harriers appeared to have good runs on the day and it was a nice spot to finish on the sea front (see below for results).
As it turned out when I looked at my watch I had gone under by some way but I had a double check with Roger after the race: another sub forty to add to his list (job done!!!) now what next? Well a pacer for Mr Haycock would be a good start!
It’s funny not that long ago sub 40 was not something I gave much thought to as knocking 5 or 10 seconds off a PB could take some time. But I surprised myself a couple of times last year with 10k times and you start to think, well maybe I can?
If you have a goal in mind just keep chipping away at it, you might just surprise yourself too.
I have been wanting to run this race for the last couple of years, but have had diary clashes. However this year was different, other than it being Father’s Day (sorry husband 😉 ) I was free. This year also had the added bonus that it was a Grand Prix race, so, safe in the knowledge that I would be running with lots of fellow harriers I signed up for the race. It wasn’t until after I signed up that I realised the race was also known as Durham’s most brutal half…… what had I let myself in for?????
The weather in the week leading up to the race was horrendous, a typical British summer with nonstop rain. The organisers kept putting updates and photographs on to their Facebook page, at one point advising us that the water was around 5 foot deep in places. Thankfully the rain stopped, the water levels dropped and the race was able to go ahead as planned.
I did not have a great preparation for the race, a distinct lack of training, I certainly had not covered the miles I needed to. This, coupled with a boozy hen do on the Friday evening followed by my youngest son’s football presentation on the Saturday evening (which consisted of a pie and pea supper washed down by a couple of large gins) was not ideal prep.
Stuart Park had kindly offered to give Mike Wood, Rosie Warnett and I a lift to the race. During the journey to the start the conversation quickly turned to expected finish times. Stuart (normally very speedy) Park stated that he had failed to break the two hour barrier on his two previous attempts, so I quickly revised my expectations to just being happy to finish this one!
We arrived at Crimdon Dene in good time and caught the shuttle bus to the start at Seaham, it seemed a very long way! On arrival at Seaham we went straight to registration. There was a minor panic, as my name was not on the entry list (I did enter, honest!!!), but the kind lady changed Marie Blackett’s entry to Nicky Blackett and supplied me with a number. I’m not sure if Marie Blackett turned up, but my apologies to her for any confusion if she did……
Although the sun was shining, there was a cool and brisk wind, which most of us hardy souls braved (with a few grumbles). Ray Carmichael, Pete King and Mark Raine had other ideas though and came appropriately dressed. The question is what were they appropriately dressed for? Forensics? Decorating? Raving????? I guess we will never know….. Ingenious idea though boys!
We lined up at the start line, I initially stood alongside Lisa Darby, Rosie Warnett and Stuart Park, but then quickly came to my senses and moved towards the back of the starting line, along with Fay Uphill, Sue Dobson and Chris Hearmon to name a few. My aim was to run at a social pace and enjoy the run!
After a few announcements, the race started. There was a little congestion at the start of the race but we quickly spread out and got into our race pace.
I ran with Chris and Sue for the first couple of miles, but Chris soon got warmed up and Sue and I watched as she disappeared off into the distance, attacking the inclines with ease! I was determined to stick at a social pace and not to go off too fast, for once in my life I stuck to my plan.
The first seven miles were not too challenging, with steady inclines, only one set of steps and not too much mud it was easy to get lulled into a false sense of security. However, I stuck to my plan as it was a warm day and the water stations were a very welcome sight. As was the paddling pool later in the race…
The second half of the course was the most challenging, dropping in and out of denes via steep steps (around 380 in all!) This quickly took its toll on my legs and I started to tire. It was tough to get going again after the steps, but who knew the power of the humble jelly baby! I seemed to get stronger after the water stops and started to overtake people in the latter stages of the race – jelly babies will definitely feature heavily in my future race plans!
The caravan site at Crimdon Dene was a welcome sight, but I had been warned by my fellow harriers that there was still around a mile to go. I pushed on and was glad that the home straight was downhill. I was greeted and cheered (very loudly) over the finish line by the harriers who had finished well ahead of me (Mark Raine, Ray Carmichael, Stuart Park (who finally broke his 2 hour barrier), Lisa Darby, Rosie Warnett, Fay Uphill and John Marshall along with Beth Raine who had come along to support and act as chief photographer (thanks again Beth J)
At the finish I grabbed my t-shirt, of which there was a choice between long and short sleeved (most impressed!) and beautiful butterfly medal. There was also free tea or coffee and a great selection of cakes – the chocolate covered flapjack was amazing!!! I wandered along to join the others to cheer the final harriers home.
I can honestly say I loved this race, yes it was a tough one, but the scenery, friendly atmosphere, jelly babies and cake more than made up for those steps….. Next year I will probably carry my own water, but I will definitely be back!
Well this one started by a rush of blood after Washington 10k back in April when getting back from the run it popped up online. Thinking about the other new events selling out quickly I jumped in, signed up and thought this sounds great ???? Checked how far Melrose was from Sedgefield, 2 hours 15 minutes, just over the border ?? Now that’s not a quick jump In the car and drive up…. so camping it was.
When the day came the weather had turned and camping was looking likely to be a hotel ??? as the tent is 23 years plus old !!!! But no I stuck to my plan….. So “Billy” and I set off up the road. We got to the border when a thought came into my head …. did we need our passports? Well not this year maybe next year !!!! ?? #Brexit …
I must have taken the roads like rollercoasters which by the time I got up there I was glad I was stopping over as felt a little sick. The campsite was right next to the end where we were going to be finishing but this was also where we were getting picked up and had to register before things got started so all good. Pitched the old tent and it was time for date night with “Billy 😘…had a lovely meal at a local pub, King’s Arms Hotel (if you’re up that way ???) and was tempted to see if they had a room as it was still raining, but no…. so an early night it was.
Didn’t sleep great as the sleeping bag made me feel a little bit claustrophobic as I couldn’t move my legs easily. Also made a camper’s error by not looking to see which way the land was falling….. so with legs not being as free l would like and me rolling around it was a great night sleep … Not !!!!
So in morning the sun was up and birds were singing, things looked and sounded great, I packed up grabbed a quick shower and went off to find breakfast. Registration was all set up so I grabbed my number early so no rushing back. Back to the King’s Arms, great breakfast and nice coffee, which ended in two cups. At registration already for the pickup, I spotted a lot of familiar faces and all seemed excited for this new event and what was all about to follow…..????
Two double deckers turned up and we all piled on, and off to the start we went. A short ride and a race briefing and we set off into sunny fields and hills from the start. The course was typical Trail Outlaws, straight into inclines from the start, up and over and across some fields and onwards picking up farm tracks (roads) and trails through woods which was great. A nice pace, enjoy the views and some chat with others. Once we were a few miles into the course you could see the hills in the distance “The Eildon Hills“ which everyone was talking about, where we were heading. The weather was great, holding up well, sunny and dry and sometimes feeling a little bit too warm.
The views along the way were great as I took time out for a few photos (as this was not a race to me, maybe next time???). So l carried on my merry way passing fields and volunteers. The Marshals clapped us all the way…. which helped us pass the day , great to have to find your way…. Well enough of this rhyming there’s only one man for this …… Mr Fearnside…. 😁. So the course took us along next to a river and over a great bridge all the time to the hills getting closer….
A few miles more and we came into full view of the Eildon hills. I started “The Climb ….” just like “Miley Cyrus!!!! “ Surely I could just keep on going all the way …. ??? No don’t be silly it’s a bloody Mountain…. so time for some more photos and some much needed air intake.
It didn’t help that there was repair work going on so the path up was blocked in places so you had to find your own route up…. After few little stops more I made it to the top … “what no snow ???? But the view was fantastic you could see for miles… But it didn’t help that someone had somehow driven up the other side, which made think he must be laughing at us coming up over the side we’ve just crawled up !!!!!! A few more pics and a good drink…… Right let’s get a move on and get back down, not far to go now.
This was going to be fun too. You had to make sure you watched your footing as again work was ongoing this side of the hill (mountain). Running down and around the base of the hill, heading back towards Melrose, it was downhill all the way with some areas where you had to hold it back, through some more woods and out into the entrance to Melrose. You ran though the town and around to the finish which was well sign posted, over the line and a turn to see the hills which we just ran down from, phew!!!
A Nice medal and T-shirt and soup and sandwiches, which I had ordered beforehand! Once sorted and freed I sat with a coffee and watched others coming in. You could see from the finish area right up into the hills, people running down and along the hillside, everyone seemed happy coming in.
A great new event by Trail Outlaws and I’m sure a few of us may try this next year; Tim and Gary were saying it’s going to be around July time so watch the website…
So time to drive back. A nice steady drive, I was thinking of the A68 all the way, but no I went the same way back 😂??
Notes: as it was a new event it seemed to run smoothly and everything worked well.
The course: was just like they had posted, a good kick at the end ….This is why the name ??? Devil’s Foot a good kick??? But great.
The campsite: was clean and everything you would need, mainly for caravans and campers but they have a small tent area plus a very small walk to the centre of Melrose.
As the event went it’s another great Trail Outlaw race, everything you would expect , from the area, hills and views, great stuff.
Would I go back??? Yes, with a little bit of hill training 😂😂
The views …. The views you see ,
The views you feel ,
The views look far
The views are short
The views you love
The views that make you know it’s time for tea ,
But the views I saw though out the day will stay with me till I return to thee …….
I booked up for this race and Marie quickly decided it would be a good idea for us to ditch the kids at the in-laws and have a nice night away together. As race day approached I wasn’t too optimistic about how I might perform but was looking forward to a night away none the less.
Sunday 26th May
Took part in the Whitsun woodland trail run, although relatively pleased with my time there I found it a real effort and had to use every last drop of energy to cross the line without a flourish.
Tuesday 28th May
Felt awful at Harriers training session. Lost all energy after 2 hill reps and only about 5 minutes in. My feet felt like lumps of lead, my lungs couldn’t grasp the air I was asking them for and I felt dizzy at the top of each hill having to stop a couple of times until the stars stopped floating around in my vision.
Saturday 1st June
0900 – Harriers time trial, 1st kilometre was ok then, as on Tuesday, my body wasn’t as willing as my attitude to run fast.
1400 – Visiting family had left after a visit for lunch so it was time to pack our overnight bags. Realising that none of my current running shorts had made it through the wash I had to dig to the bottom of the wardrobe for an old pair which had no elastic left and a bust zip on the pocket.
1600 – Drop the kids off and set off for Bamburgh.
1730 – Arrived at The Mizen Head hotel and checked in to a lovely room with a view of the castle over the rooftop (if you were over 6 foot tall) and the sea in the distance.
1900 – We went out for our tea at The Lord Crew hotel down the road. I had a very tasty chicken, chilli and chorizo linguini, Marie chose a burger, we filled up with a dessert each then we had a wander down the road to suss out where the event start was.
2030 – Heading back to the hotel and out of the blue I had the sudden realisation that I’d left my running shoes at home! I’d completely forgotten to pack them. We quickly thought through all possibilities of how I might get hold of them. My brother was planning on coming to spectate so if he set off earlier he could pick up our spare house key from the in-laws, collect them and drop them off. No, that was asking too much of him so we ruled that out. I could set off home to pick them up but it would be a 3 hour round trip, meaning I’d not be back at the hotel until too late so ruled that out too. I resigned myself to the fact that I’d have to run in the casual trainers I was wearing.
2230 – Lights out for an early night and a lie in in the morning so I might wake feeling revitalised after a kid free night’s sleep.
Sunday 2nd June
0515 – No lie in then.
0800 – We’re 1st in the queue for breakfast as I’m feeling anxious about the timings for the morning. An hour and a half to have breakfast, get ready and packed up, check out and walk a mile to the start. I should learn to be more relaxed as we made it to the registration 20 minutes before the start.
0920 – I believe the race used to start up at the castle but this year the start and finish was at a non-descript car park about half a mile down the road. I didn’t feel too optimistic about having a great race, with a poor week of running leading up to this, the wrong shorts, the wrong shoes, a poor night’s sleep and being all flustered getting there so placed myself towards the front of the middle of the pack, expecting to finish anywhere between 50 minutes to an hour.
0930 – The race began with a 3/4 lap of the car park before heading back towards the village on the main road. The 1st 100m was a bit of a shuffle but it opened up and I found myself in plenty of space to get going. I kept to the right of the pack, ducking back onto the left hand side of the road as traffic headed towards us on the open roads as we approached the imposing Bamburgh castle. The only hill was from the start and through the village and as I reached the left turn at The Victoria pub onto the back straight country lane section of the course I felt surprisingly good. It felt like my feet were gliding across the ground, my legs felt light and free and my breathing was steady and rhythmic, in sync with every 4 strides. The course was as described, undulating, but it didn’t seem to break my rhythm on the inclines and the last kilometre was a downward incline so I managed to finish with a sprint.
I crossed the line, stopped my watch and checked the time, 44:38!! A new PB for me by a whopping 3 minutes! Unbelievable! To paraphrase Sir Alex Ferguson, “running, bloody hell”.
The Hardmoors 110 has been on my list of ‘Must Do’ races for quite some time. I’ve fancied having a go at the fabled 100 mile distance and the 110 ticks a lot of boxes being close to home on terrain I know well and being very well organised by people who love ultra running.
Having finally bitten the bullet and signed up I started training well before Christmas and have consistently managed long runs on the Cleveland Way most weekends since. This meant that as we travelled down on the Friday of the May Bank Holiday weekend I was confident I knew the course and that I was in good shape to tackle the distance. I was being supported by my partner Nicola who had done a lot of the training with me and my mate, Leachy, who is a veteran of several Hardmoors ultras. Having stopped in Scarborough on the Friday evening (…and enjoyed a pre-race Guinness!) we were at the start in Filey in good time for the 8am start on the Saturday morning. Having registered I did my usual check, re-check and check again of my run bag before we were off.
The first few miles ticked along really nicely and I met Leachy and Nicola a couple of times on the way to Scarborough to grab some food and drinks. Scarborough itself is always a long slog to get through as it’s a considerable distance to be running on hard concrete and through the holiday crowds. We were soon back on the cliffs though and heading to Whitby on what was was turning out to be an exceptionally warm day.
The morning passed really quickly and by the time I was in Whitby it was early afternoon and the tight streets of Whitby were filled with tourists. The famous Abbey steps took me into the crowds and it meant I was forced to walk most of the way up to the Whale bones for some much needed food and drinks. There were several people struggling with the heat by this point and I was taking in plenty of fluids, grateful I had my support crew meeting me with fresh bottles regularly.
Saltburn was the next big town which also reflected about halfway in the race. I got there in just over 10hrs and was still feeling strong and in good spirits. I again got some food down but as the weather was turning and night was drawing in I pulled on some extra clothing and Leachy joined me for the climb through Skelton and off to the Cleveland Hills.
It wasn’t long before Roseberry Topping loomed large on the horizon but as I was still moving well and managing to maintain my eating and drinking I was still feeling positive.
Nicola joined me shortly after this for the night time run over the Moors. This coincided with the clouds dropping and we were running through the fog in the dark for most of the night. As the night carried on and tiredness started to kick in and the lack of visibility became fairly disorientating. This is where all the recce runs came in to their own as I always knew where I was and felt confident we were on the right paths.
The sun was starting to come up as we approached Osmotherley and then climbed out the other side. The long climb was hard but we met Leachy at Square Corner who had food waiting. This is where my legs decided that enough was enough! As soon as I set off I tried a gentle run and there was nothing there. I’d done 90 mls by this point, by far the furthest I’d ever been, and despite still feeling I had the energy my legs were too sore to run. I therefore settled in to as fast a walk as I could muster and strode out for Helmsley. The hardest part was climbing up to the White Horse at Kilburn on route up the steep steps. I must’ve have looked a bit strange heaving myself up them, relying on the railings for support…but it worked.
Helmsley couldn’t come soon enough and I eventually finished in 28hrs 30mins. The last 20mls had really slowed me down but I’d finished. Exhausted and sleep deprived I collected my medal, hobbled to the shower and headed home…vowing to stick to sensible distances in the future… maybe!
Family Featherstone ventured to the scenic Bowood House in Calne, Wiltshire to partake in Runfestrun for a weekend of camping (not doing our best Alan Carr or Graham Norton impression but staying in our tent) and running. This event was the brainchild of Chris Evans and Vassos Alexander. All runners were divided into 4 teams with themed kits.
After a long journey down we arrived in Swindon on Thursday to see the delights of Swindon Town Centre (Think Bishop Auckland but down south with funny accents). Friday saw an early rise to venture to Bowood House and start our adventure.
Friday saw an exploration of the various stalls of the shopping village on site which saw many gin samples and cake samples consumed which unfortunately for Andy came minutes before him and Alfie ran the mile race for our 1st Medal of the weekend. Alfie ran some and was carried some but was the youngest in the race and finished last but he charmed the marshals by picking up the cones and running with them. Those of you used to Alfie at parkrun knows he has a thing for picking up cones during events. This was our first experience of the fantastic marshals mainly from Calne Running Club and Chippenham Harriers who were some of the most enthusiastic people we saw.
2 hours later saw the first big event of the weekend with the sunset shuffle with approx. 3000 people running a hilly and challenging 5k course including many with buggies, and many running with young kids. Team Featherstone (Andy and Emma) shared the workload throughout the running taking turns pushing the 33kg of Kids and Buggy. We finished 1st buggy for our 2nd Medal of the weekend. Alfie and Evelyn just loved the bumps. To celebrate being 1st buggy we went straight for the nearest spritzer stand and had the joy of being mid drink before the 2nd buggy even finished. The evening finished with listening to Razorlight while the children slept. We finished in just over 28 mins.
Saturday started with an early rise for Andy prepping for the half marathon which started at 9am. After a race brief from Vassos, Chris, Paula and Crammy (and Andy being a selfie whore) the race started by following the 5k route but with more hills. The temp quickly rose to 20 degrees before 9am. It was clearly a brutal route with runners being pummelled by hills and challenging terrain. On lap two (of 3) Andy ran with Natasha Evans (Chris’s wife) and talked about the joys of buggy running. To say Andy enjoyed the scenery and had fun was an understatement after stopping for selfies with Ultra runner Susie Chan on lap 1 and then Crammy and Alison Curbishley at lap two. On the 2nd Selfie stop they said “You’re Chris Lines’ mate aren’t you?” which made me laugh. I finished in my slowest ever time of 1hr 58.
A quick changeover of parenting duty saw Emma take off on the 5k which followed the same route as the Friday evening sunset shuffle. Emma was greeted by a plethora of noise with Rock Choir, Ukulele Band and Steel Drummers providing a samba and a welcome distraction from the run and a stitch (which according to Emma hadd nothing to do with free food and drink samples). She finished in 25 mins.
An hour or so’s break in which lunch and few talks from speakers were visited along with a shopping trip which Ivana Trump would be proud of saw Andy and the kids undertake the 2.5k (which actually measured 3k). The course was different and heavily grass based and also involved what can only be described as a game of human dodgems with Andy having to dodge children with limited awareness of surroundings. Andy finished 1st buggy again and not surprisingly celebrated with more free samples.
The temperature ramped up further as the sunlight shone and Emma took to the 10k course which was two hilly laps. Hot and Hard was Emma’s description of the event. Apparently it had hills again too. Emma finished in 58 mins and headed straight for a pint of cider and a portion of chips. Andy was getting ready for the 3k road race (the only non hilly event and only one entirely on tarmac) when Emma 2 mins before the start decided she wanted to run it. Andy finished in 14 mins, with Emma not far behind in 19 mins with a double buggy. Hard to believe the sports dietitian thought it would be big and clever to run 20 mins after a diet of champions.
The evening was spent reminiscing about the day’s events and admiring our runners tans while listening to a DJ set from Faithless bringing back memories of the 1990s.
Sunday saw the culmination of the running with the fun themed Big Bug Run, a 5k event with the aim of each team gathering items worth points. The winning team (of about 1000 people) would win tickets to Friday Night at Carfest South. The teams of Team Bee(Steve Cram), Ladybird (Tequila Tash), Butterfly(Paula Radcliffe) and Dragonfly (Colin Jackson) were set off in staggered starts depending on their position in the points table. The Featherstones joined the other 700 or 800 team Dragonfly members and set off first to gather Pollen (ball pit balls and beach balls) for prizes, along with taking part in challenges to win bananas worth 100 points. The Dragonflys decimated the course by make use of the lack of rules and taking bags to gather balls and carry them 5k, a few whole bags of 50 to 60 balls were pilfered by members of the team. Each team had a Volvo estate to fill. By the time team Ladybird started to come in the Dragonflys had filled the entire volvo including getting rid of the driver and filling from the sunroof. The banter from Vassos on stage suggested they found the whole episode hilarious.
A thoroughly enjoyable event which we look forward to taking part in again next year.
This was my third Parkrunathon, having done one each in 2016 and 2017. They don’t get any easier. Previously they have been in support of Acorn Children’s Hospices and organised by George Nicholson. George is well known around the Durham sporting scene as a runner and former rugby player and rower. A really great guy, he is also one of the ever-presents in the Great North Run. I sat one place behind him on this year’s bus.
This year, Elvet’s Catherine Smith took on the organising role and we decided to support local mental health and suicide prevention charity If U Care Share. Catherine will be familiar to many Sedgefield runners. She lives in Coxhoe and regularly runs or volunteers at Sedgefield parkrun. She did a great job.
With mainly Elvet runners, the numbers grew in recent weeks and a coachload became an additional minibus became a fleet of cars. Via social media a group travelled up from Wakefield and at its fullest we had about 100 runners. Catherine gave me a few ‘picks’ and along came Ray as well as a Darlington (Quakers) friend Alistair plus a late call-up for Durham Harriers’ Diane Wood. Alistair bust his calf a few weeks ago so decided to do his bit by cycling the whole route instead. Diane photo-bombed our Sedgefield group at Wynyard last week; that’ll teach you!
Sedgefield junior parkrun
PK: 11.37 Ray: 11.16
A nice gentle jog around Hardwick lake started us off at 8.15. A marathon is 42km, so it needs this little extra to make the full distance. Steve Foreman (parkrun gaffer) was setting up around us, looking quite chilled as we all posed for initial photos.
#1 Sedgefield parkrun
PK: 26.49 Ray: 26.43
What a spectacle. Runners streamed all around the lake like never seen before. 485 in total, a record by 101 I believe. Ray and I jogged around together, Steve still looking quite chilled at the end too.
A nice touch for me was that both my kids, Oliver and Grace, were on barcode scanning and managing quite well.
We posed for a few more photos afterwards and then got away on the bus. Nice to have the officially timed one of the day on home turf and I even managed a take-out coffee for us both before we left.
#2 Hartlepool parkrun
PK: 28.33 Ray: 25.40
The weather was still very nice at this point. I’ve never done Hartlepool before but know the seafront route well enough as it covers much of the same stretch as the Marina 5 Mile. I nipped into the public loos on the front, hence a slower time. Wee stops were to become a recurring theme…
#3 Cotsford Fields parkrun
PK: 27.23 Ray:23.31
We didn’t have time to get a coffee from the accompanying van before we left Hartlepool, so Ray’s plan was to run this one quicker to be at the front of the queue at the end. It worked. I ran much of this one with Paul ‘Lord Smyth’ Smith. Many will know him for his running a mile a day (at least), for a decade or more and his eccentric outfits. I think he changed into red budgie-smuggler santa shorts for this one.
Cotsford Fields is on National Trust coastal land near Horden and passes the metal sea bird sculpture on each of its two laps; beautiful on a day like we had, perhaps less so in the depths of winter. Coffee was enjoyed post run, as was some chocolate cake and away we went.
#4 Sunderland parkrun
PK: 26.45 Ray: 26.39
Alistair, by now known to everyone as ‘Bike Man’ got a bit lost on his way to this one. ‘We’re at the bottom of the ski slope’ I text. ‘B********’ he replied, ‘wrong place’, but still got there on time to see us off.
I’ve run this course on both previous Parkrunathons; it starts and finishes at the top near the ski slope and takes in two laps of the lake at Silksworth. Rain had appeared from nowhere and Ray and I had a wet run together. We had a nice chat with the Rodillian Runners of Wakefield. I needed the loo too!
#5 South Shields parkrun
PK: 31.05 Ray: 24.09
Ray and I also did this parkrun back in February as part of a recce morning for the Marathon Club’s Leazes event. It starts by the Sandancer pub and runs south along the coast path, almost as far as Marsden before turning back and following the road (Great North Run finish) for about a mile. Colin Robson is their run director, and just as in 2016, he joined us for the day. Before today Colin had only ever run Sedgefield parkrun once and that was GNR day in 2016 when their course was taken over. As a result of a chat that day I got a last minute place in the GNR; I digress but it shows the kinds of quirky occurrences that come as a result of running together.
I also had to digress on the route at #5. I needed another wee badly from the start and so went down on the rocks. By the time I emerged I was well adrift of all the runners.
I gradually caught up a few by the end. South Shields was also the first time I began to feel really quite stiff at the start. The Sunderland run had been quite pacey (well, for me) and the hill at the end had taken something out of my legs. By the end of #5 I knew I was certainly feeling it.
#6 Windy Nook parkrun
PK: 29.00 Ray: 25.34
This is a semi-urban nature reserve in Gateshead, in the shadow of the Wrekenton cross country course. Experience told me that #6 is always the toughest, made especially so by this very hilly three lap route. The rain had stopped though and there was a full team of Windy Nook volunteers to guide us. This happened a number times throughout the day and was really welcoming and welcomed.
Keeping well hydrated I needed another wee before the start. By now Ray was inventing his own timing rules; either each one faster than the previous or under 27 minutes. Off you go mate. The route was hilly and twisty and 29 minutes doesn’t tell of how much effort I put in on this one. There was a series of steps on each lap and that was punishing.
Another member of our running group was Oliver’s A Level history and politics teacher, Mr Brown. I couldn’t quite manage to call him Alex. He’s a super fella and Oliver idolises him but ‘Mr B’ was as informal as I could muster. He tailed me all the way around this course and believing that he was going to pass me at any moment, I even managed to run the steps on lap 3. I finished ahead, job done Mr K.
Another wee stop in the nearby community centre, where they also provided us with very nice refreshments, and we were off. Just two to go.
#7 Riverside parkrun, Chester le Street
PK: 29.05 Ray: 23.28
This is normally a fast, flat course, but serious stiffness and another public toilet stop put paid to any kind of performance from me. Meanwhile Ray the machine was smashing it up somewhere near the front. I never got near enough to the front runners, but I think there was some competitiveness up there. Support from volunteers was lovely, including a nice shout out from our Aileen Henderson.
#8 Durham parkrun
PK: 26.00 Ray: 22.49
The home parkrun for many of our number, there was a great turnout as well as speeches before and after. Bike Man Alistair received warm applause before we started. His day had been a different challenge. Unlike for us on a sweaty coach and running together, his time was quite solitary; a great effort.
The Durham folks had also set it up as a ‘proper’ event with bar code scanning and everything. Just as well then that Ray and I got a sneaky wee in the cricket pavilion as we walked to the start.
Because of where I was standing for the briefing I was near the front for once when we started. I felt myself spring off with not too much stiffness and so I decided to run hard for the last one. Okay, so Ray and the quick guys soon came past but I was pleased to finish with a proper run. It felt quicker than 26 minutes but that’s what fatigue does to you I guess. The ‘new’ course at Durham which finishes along the river and back to the bandstand is lovely, but try as I might I couldn’t quite catch Paul Smith in his leopard skin shorts. The man is crackers, he drank a bottle of Peroni after each leg, but he can run.
We had a few more photos (Maggie Davison is a great photographer, and trailed us all day) and I led a few words to thank Catherine and Co. Diane even admitted after, that despite her protestations, she had really enjoyed it. I knew she would.
Parkrunathon is a great communal event and it was good to support a worthy cause. It is tiring and you do have to pace yourself a bit, but for me a normal marathon is tougher. We all hugged, shook hands and promised to do it all again soon. I hope we do.
The last hug and word went to Kerry Anne, one of Catherine’s lieutenants and run director for Cotsford Fields.
“Pete I think you should get your prostate checked out mate. I’ve never known someone have so many wees.”
When I signed up for this I thought it would be a nice way to spend a sunny spring evening running round the grounds of Wynyard Hall. Being a few days after my Edinburgh 10K race I had every intention of taking it easy…
Rosie kindly offered to drive so we set off and got there with plenty of time to spare. We joined the short queue to pick up our barcode and goody bag (running socks, packet of crisps, mars bar and water) When I told the marshall my name I got the reply ‘Uphill, there are a few of those, haha!’ .Never heard that before!!
We decided the best way to ‘warm up’ was to sit in the car staying dry but as 7pm neared we headed out to the start and had a quick catch up with most of the other Harriers racing.
Rosie also had the same idea of taking it easy, her aim to run steady and have a chat all the way round. I was thinking that Rosie’s easy pace varied quite a bit from mine, but that we’d see how it went!
After a quick run through of the route from the race director: Starting out from the field at the end of the grand marquee car park heading through a gate and then out and round farm land before heading down into the woods. We’d then head back up uphill to start a second lap, the only difference on the second lap would be that we would go right out of the woods and along towards the lake and Wynyard hall. After an out and back we would snake up the hill and then a short loop around the woodland walk and we would finish back on the grass next to where we started.
After that we were off, and it was good to start to warm up on a chilly evening. There was conversation to begin with including discussing what races are good for a fast, flat 10K (any recommendations?) but after the inevitable going off too quick (for me, not Rosie) happened, my side of the conversation dried up somewhat. Luckily for Rosie about a quarter of the way into the first lap, Pete caught us up and after telling us he was taking it steady ahead of the parkrunathon he would be doing on Saturday he seemed happy to stick with us and provide better conversation than I could offer!
What goes down must invariably go up, and so it was towards the end of the first lap that we hit the hill. Repeating ‘I love this hill’ in my head and thinking of Tuesday night training sessions I managed a steady pace, and how kind of a photographer to be positioned at the top – think I managed a smile! A quick drink of water at the start of the second lap and then we were off and round again, the route itself was a good mix of terrain and was a nice chance to see the woodland and surrounding areas around Wynyard Hall.
By the time we had got to the section by the lake the conversation had turned to bad jokes (why don’t elephants like penguins…because they can’t undo the wrapper) and what we thought of compression running socks; it really was high brow stuff! Once we made our way up the hill the end was near. After a time check from Pete saying we would be close to 51 minutes it was time to dig in and hold on for a final push across to the finish. More effort than I was intending on putting in and it wasn’t the take it steady run I had planned but hey, you’ve got to push yourself a little, right? I think the course may have been a bit under 10K so not sure I can claim it as a PB but I was very happy with a time of 50:18, I have that sub-50 min 10K in my sights!
Thanks to Rosie and Pete for pulling me round, I know I didn’t add much to the conversation but your company certainly helped!
Janet and Julia return to Scotland to run the Edinburgh Half Marathon
On a showery Sunday, 26th May, we finished the Edinburgh Half Marathon drookit, but with top ten in our age categories results, so well chuffed. The new route offered a slower start as it was narrow and busy, but fine views of this beautiful city where we have run every emf half marathon since it began in 2010. Now, it truly is the Edinburgh Half Marathon, passing Greyfriars’ Bobby, the castle, Scott Monument, Princes Street Gardens, running down the Royal Mile, by Holyrood Palace, through the Queen’s Park, and along the promenade to Musselburgh and Prestonpans.
It is a very well organised event, which is well supported by encouraging spectators keen to boost runners with jelly babies and inspirational quotes……..’that’s not sweat, it’s sparkle’ made us smile.
by Janet McRae and Julia Atkinson-Tait
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