Monday, 27 September 2010


Ran the Norham 10k yesterday. Nice village, nice race, loads of scones. Cheese or fruit, and loads of tea. As for the race, well, started too cautiously and never caught up. There was a group of 6 or 7 around 20 seconds in front which I made a beeline for after the hill but they soon broke up and it was every man for himself. Consoled myself with making up 3rd counter for the team prize and can't be too unhappy with the 37.36 for 9th place given my current lack of motivation. It was a proper slog. Nice scones, though. I prefer the fruit.
and now a poem-
It feels like autumn, I've been mowing the lawn
now its up to Norham for a fruity scone...

Saturday, 25 September 2010


Ever wasted a perfectly good day? Making the decision not to do Whernside today and too late for the local ParkRun I was at a loose end. Then I had a wizard idea. Strip the Joe Waugh (road bike) down ready for a trip to re-spray land. This went well until I found I didn't have the tools to get the headset or the crankset off (I can tell the anoraks among you are lapping this up). With the Waugh down to its smalls, I fitted some new brakes and cables to the Donohue (old road frame). Its miles too small for me, but its tidy and all it needed was the seat raising and I could get out for some miles. Seat wouldn't budge. I could have won the world gurning championships with some of the faces I was pulling trying to free the seat. Then I reverted to a variety of hammers, the sensitive technician's tool of choice and it was eventually the dream team of a rubber hammer and a flat blade screwdriver that the thing came loose.

Ooops. That alloy tubing's not as thick as you think. Still, might be OK. With a different seatpost in, I tried to tighten the bolt but the damage to the frame was enough to mean that while the bolt tightened, the seat now swivels 360.

Meanwhile Aunt Aggie was witnessing this from a far. Well, quite near really. She was sat crossed legged on the carpet wearing her cow print wellies and playing imaginary chess on her home made chess board with some left over jelly babies. She thought my swivelling seat would make for 'an interesting ride'. She added that 'at least I would see all of the countryside and I could probably charge extra for the experience'. I've tried to explain to her that some squares might be a useful addition to her board, but she says it would add nothing to the game.

So it seems that the Donohue will be joining the Waugh to the bike repair factory. I may as well take my old track bike and get all 3 resprayed. So, bikeless this afternoon, it'll be a trip to the woods for a 40 minute run.

With some of the lads away to the west for a Half tomorrow, I might have to make do with something shorter and more local. Best see what fixtures are around.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Great North Run 2010

First batch of GNR Great North Run 2010 half marathon photos uploaded here. Click on the image to the right to view.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

One man & the Simonside Thropton Show Race 2010

I had entered Sundays Stirling 10k, but circumstances changed, and instead, I took the chance to turn out at the Thropton Show near Rothbury in the Cheviot foothills for the Simonside Fell Race. I've ran this twice before over the last few years and enjoyed the runnability of the course. The route is scenic and not too steep and there's even a wee bit of immersion across the River Coquet, not unlike the Traprain Hill Race (although, clearly, at 80 miles away that's a different river).

Having paid a very reasonable entry fee to get into the race, eyeing up the giant leeks and cabbages and watching the terriers do what terriers do, I collected my number and returned to the field where the car was parked. I was early so I put the chair back and continued my current read entitled 'I am Ozzy'. It's a lot easier read than my previous effort 'Silas Marner' -don't rush out! Peering up from time to time I spied the usual suspects, NFR's, Woolers, Tynedales and Alnwicks but as the car park continued to fill, I saw NSP's Vaughan Hemy, James Buis of Heaton, a guy wearing a dark peak vest and a small gang of Edinburgh AC's. It was the Thropton Show and seemingly everyone wanted a piece of the fell pie.

A very decent field of around 100 lined up in warm sunshine. I've been saving hard and just bought a baby no screen-ipod. Its tiny. With work this morning I was in a rush and realised that I had downloaded the young un's tunes by mistake. While she has a few of mine on, it was strangely devoid of my usual ear-splitting fell-bursting riffs. No matter.

As we crossed the river for the first time Horsley and Redman came past and I was surprised as I had started slow, but they soon pulled away in front leaving me with a taste of dust and the red vested Hemy ahead. I trailed him through the woods to the start of the crags before turning left.

People were appearing from all over the place at the top of the dense tree-line and I shouted a Claremont runner who was about to wander off for a fell run all of his own.

It was up the rocky path and across the ridge for 100 metres. You've barely got time to get your breath at the top and its back down at high speed watching out not to break your ankles or tumble on the grey gritstone as you pick your way through the scratchy brown heather before disappearing into the woods.

It was dry this year with only the odd boggy puddle to vault across and I caught sight of Graham Burns (DFR) appearing from out of the heather at the toe of the crags. I counted a 20 second deficit I had to make up to catch him, but with Taylor Swift, Pink and GleeClub picnicking in my eardrums, I couldn't get into my normal Van Halen -Frost*-Porcupine Tree driven trance and it took a couple of hurdling fences and gates to catch the motoring Burns halfway down. I was making good progress as we hit the low fields, but was never going to pass the 2 ahead who were perhaps a minute in front.

With 1k to go I crossed the bridge, the marshall pointed and I saw his lips move. Not hearing a word he'd said I nodded accordingly just before I headed off down the route of the old finish along the river which, had I been listening, I would have realised he was saying 'this year its back along the road and not back along the river,( you plonker)'.

I reappeared in the marshy field where the dog trials were taking place, and, if I say so myself, I responded well to the 'come-bys', 'left, left, left' and 'good lad' shouts that were coming my way. As I clambered out of the field, bone in mouth, the sheep were in the pen and people were patting my head but DFR man who had been 5 or 10 seconds behind was now 3 or 4 seconds in front and I was done in.
Let that be a lesson to all you who want to run with something in your ears.

I finished 9th around 52mins for the 6 mile route and was happy knowing my sense of direction is pants and that I am developing a unique ability to find extra dog-legs and get extra mileage out of races that many runners would envy. God help me if I try the Two Breweries or some of the longer races that are coming up. I could be out all night!

(I should add, though, that one farmer has booked me for 'One Man and his Dog' and that a well known dog food brand has been on the phone).

Sunday, 12 September 2010


Three of us travelled to the Kelso Two Bridges 5k after I'd been singing its praises about what a potentially fast 5k course it was. The harvest is in full swing with plenty of tractors and odd looking multi-tasking gizmos on the road to dodge. We arrived at this would-be haven of speed in warm autumn sunshine at the cricket pitch on the edge of this scenic and historic border town.

There were plenty of lads and lassies who were up for the fun run, but the field for the senior event was diminutive, almost 'nano' .. (perhaps affected by 2 or 3 other events taking place in the wider area. We paid our £2 and as we lined up, with the police kindly stopping the traffic, I felt pretty good.
It was once around the cricket pitch and then off up through the High Street, across the market place, past the old abbey and along to the bridge. This is followed by a good grunt up the hill to Maxwellhaugh. I had started slowly and it took around 2k to catch the 2 lads in front, and at 3k as we worked up the hill I caught teamate McB. The leader had disappeared from view but there were a clutch of around 3 or 4 runners not too far in front who were spaced out between each other by around 10 seconds or so.

As we hit the hill I was tucked in behind an unattached athlete with a Teviotdale lad just in front, but they cut sharply left down a narrow lane around 20 metres or so before the junction with the bypass which swings down 2k to the finish. With no marshall in sight I convinced myself that they had taken the wrong turn and me and McB doubled back up to the junction at which point we saw the field re-appearing from the short blind lane 100 metres ahead and I was left feeling abit of a mug and dug in to make up the lost ground passing the marshall 100 metres down the road and suggesting that he might be better 100 metres back up the road.

I tried to pick the pace up estimating that we'd lost around 13 or 14 seconds, but the slight headwind combined with my disappointment, age, condition, slightly tight achilles, mismatched socks (and anything else I could blame other than myself) meant that I managed to draw level with the 5th placed Teviotdale lad just before the finish, at which point he kicked and I was dropped hanging on to finish in 18:07 and 2 seconds behind him.

As it was I may have managed a 17:50 or 55 which would have been fine, but a wrong turn when its short and sharp is fatal. As penance we ran another lap as a cool down.
McB finished 15 seconds behind me and won the over-50's category so it wasn't all bad. Daryl Hastie won (again) in 16:32 from Damon Rodwell and Keith Lyall. Didn't get the ladies times.
As additional punishment they made me ride my spacehopper all the way home (I've only just got back). Try making hand signals at 3mph while holding on to only one orange ear.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010


I read that new research from Liverpool suggests that ultra endurance runs can result in some cardiac disturbance (

I heard the term Empty Nest Syndrome on the radio. What about Empty Leg Syndrome. This is where men and women find themselves unable to pass the old grimble in front whom they've been tracking for miles at the end of a race. Unlike the profound grief experienced when (for example) you find yourself in the slow queue at the supermarket, the grief of empty leg syndrome often goes unrecognised, because abject tiredness and exhaustion after panning yourself for 6 miles is seen as normal or even healthy.
The afflicted runner may find few sources of support or sympathy. In many cases, empty leg syndrome is compounded by other difficult life events like high entry fees, delayed muscle pain, failing to get down the stairs quickly enough to answer the phone, failing to get down the stairs at all, and wondering if, in fact, draughts, a glass of stout and a stairlift is a more realistic way to get your kicks.

Anyway, there's no endurance events for me this weekend. It's the Kelso Two Bridges Road Race, the fastest 5k in Scotland (for me anyway; see 2008 blog)-1k through the town, 1k of uphill and 3k of sweeping downhill. No time for photos or swanning around. Full on graft required. As the kids say 'its phat'.... Well, that's a lie. I've never heard anyone say that about a 5k. Maybe I meant 'its flat'.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Puma Keswick Trail Run

I was given a Lakeland Trails entry for the Keswick 14k run for my Birthday and although I have a problem with ramped up entry fees it was a generous pressie and, in any case, it would have been churlish not to appear for the race on such a cracking though breezy day in the Lake District. With the prospect of 2000ft of climbing and descent over 9 miles, I sat chomping my way through a flapjack and supped fresh brown coffee in the car with 20 minutes to go rather than warming up. You won't find that in the coaches manual.

The registration and start was in Fitz Park and standing under the red inflatable banner or whatever you call these things, I thought a top 20 finish might do the job. I thought I saw Bingleys Matt Whitfield just in front looking keen and then with 2 minutes to go, Nick Swinburn (NFR) appeared at the line. He knocked out a 30 minute 10k last weekend in Hawick. I revised my finish position down a little.

The route took us along the railway line then around the side of Latrigg and up a dale and I was in a little group with a nice tailwind pushing us on. There was one stretch at 6 km of boggy, reedy grass but thankfully very little camber on it for me to slip off while running in a knackered old pair of road shoes.

I took in the scenery and stopped once or twice to take a couple of gratuitous blog photos. This, I realise, is dubious and touristy. Its odd behaviour for sure near the front of a race. To be honest I don't think I've lost a whole lot of time getting up to this malarkey.

As I hit the headwind at the top of the hill on the turn at 9km, I stopped and took another snap, letting a Redcar and a Dumfries runner by as I stood in my Cecil Beaton-like pose.

I then tucked in behind Dumfries man for a bit before we started hitting some proper downhill when I finally worked off the flapjack and passing 4 or 5 toward the finish cajoled the creaky carcass to 22nd place in 1:03 and 4th vet. Swinburn meandered in to a record breaking 51.30, 3 minutes ahead of Whitfield. Mike Openshaw (running unattached) was 5th. Pippa Maddams was first lady (17th) in 1.01.56, just over a minute ahead of unattached Jenny Watts, who, if I hadn't been fannying around with the photo shoot, I might have got a bit closer to.

My up-hilling was slow today but carrying that tripod, flashgun, light meter and illuminating umbrellas takes the edge off your speed, believe me. Anyone for a portrait...

Oh, and last thing some guy thought it would be nice to propose as his girlfriend crossed the line. aawwwww!