Sunday, 31 October 2010

Jedburgh 10k

It was a beautiful day for the Jedburgh Running Festival. Some roads had been closed to traffic, which is never a bad thing (unless you're a driver) and around 900 border sun seekers lined up together next to the old Abbey for the half marathon and 10k.

Even though I'd missed the online entry closing date, the organiser had given me the OK as long as I turned up early to register and so I chilled in the car for an hour or so after registering and before the race, with a miles warm up at 10.30am. We gathered at the war memorial under the shadow of the Abbey. The man said 'go' at 11am, as the other man with the gun stood looking blankly at the mis-firing pistol, and off we went haring through Jedburgh High Street.

At 1km I was feeling good and was working up from around 30th as the course went off the Main Road (A68) and up and up again through a leafy side road. It was very up and down for the first 4k. I kept Portobello's Jarvie in view and there was also 2 Teviotdales and a Moorfoot between us. It was a bit of a re-run from the Norham 10k.
I was, however, flagging a bit between 5 and 6k and although the return leg was down the A68 past Jedforests Ground and along the river near the edge of Town, I lost sight of the little bunch ahead and worked hard for a 37:32 and eventual 12th place. One of the lads from Teviotdale kept stopping and after 4 or 5 seconds rallied and off he went again but I couldn't find the speed to catch him.

The organisation was very good though and I liked the venue and positive vibe around the race. Might have another go next year, although it has to be said that it would have to go some to beat today's weather. Turner beat Hulme in 34 mins at the front end. Not a PB course but a peachey run on a picture-postcard day.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

XC: Life of Grime

Messing around this morning included downloading Groove Armadas White Light Album. Absolutely Kicking. Just made it in time at lunchtime after the rain had passed to run the North East cross country league. It feels ages since I've done one and the course at Cramlington hasn't got any steep hills in it but it was a mudbath today and the fell shoes didn't fare very well. Couldn't help thinking how spikes would have been that bit better. Started from the slow pack today and floated around the 40th mark after the 2nd of 3 laps.

Anyway, it took around 40 minutes for the 9k course and I pretty much stuck to the task running with karl from Birtley and someone's dad (you certainly get a good idea of who is around you with the vocal support from the sidelines).

Windy, wet and, in the words of Potter, 'slitherin'... Just the way I like my cross country!

Results on the Race-Results site (See link on right hand margin). Better find a riot somewhere so I can get my caked legs in front of the water-cannon!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

St. Cuthberts Way

Arriving for a job this morning near Belford in the heart of Nothumberland, I caught a glimpse of the snowy peak of the Cheviot, the first snow I've seen this season.

Finishing work mid-afternoon and having skipped more than a few days running, I thought it would be nice to catch a glimpse of the local countryside. Its been a good while since I was around these parts. I parked up near a rough track and headed north armed with my fell shoes and mp3.

There was a brisk north east wind blowing and a flock of geese were struggling near the top of the crags. I jogged along the manicured grass beneath the Scots pine and Douglas Fir under the shadow of Saint Cuthberts Cave to the east and the Cheviots well to the west. It was said the monks spent the night here in the 11th Century while they carried the body of the old bishop of Lindisfarne to Durham away from the marauding clutches of sea raiders. There was an eerie atmospheric feel to the place but I wasn't alone. The geese had got back in the saddle and were moving across the sky in numbers.

I carried on accompanied by the melancholy harmonies of Blackfield, past the sleepy hollow of Howburn and across some gravel tracks through Kyloe Wood, past an old quarry and into a dense thicket of trees. At 5 miles I turned and headed back the way I came. I clocked it at 1.24 for 10 miles (with numerous stops for photies). There was quite a wind chill this afternoon, but its beautiful at this time of year and hardly anyone around. A crusty sunflower brown rustic roll and cold, fresh pint of milk from the local Co-op store never tasted so good.

Sunday, 17 October 2010


Out yesterday for 25 miles or so a la velo and then a steady 7 miles in the late afternoon through the woods kicking up the leaves, but felt tired and sniffly last night so plans to go and take some snaps at the Kielder marathon this morning were abandoned.

It was frosty this morning and with no one down the clubhouse at 9, I nipped back home, grabbed the bike and took off for 2 hours through the leafy Northumberland countryside to the Gibbet and back. Never seen so many bikies out. Being perched on a saddle for 30 miles can, at times, get a bit dull, so always on the lookout for some good shots and camera angles.

The cyclo-cross bike is taking shape and I might finish the cabling and taping up the handlebars this afternoon. I should also get a short run in before the thermometer falls later. But there's an empty skip outside waiting to be filled so I guess that means a few hours in the garage raking through the clutter.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Red Eggs Spell Danger

Early finish Friday. I'm about to go out for a 10 miler and need to know there's some grub to come back to.

The kitchen is not my strong point although I am an old hand at seeking out the stashed biscuits and choc. But after failing to sniff out any 'energy' food, I began to shake and dribble uncontrollably. Pavlovs Dogs saw this and left the room, muttering.

There was nothing else for it and before I knew it, I was up to my oxters in flour, sugar and eggs. There was some sort of ceremonial method set out within the recipe book involving needing, folding and whisking, but these were treated with contempt, being jettisoned as I cranked up the electric mixer to warp factor 7. The mixer ground to a groaning halt when I poured in a good bowlful of sultanas, raisins and almond flakes.

I poured the mix into a cake tin before remembering I'd forgot to add the butter, so out it came again and I mixed in a slab of Lurpak with a metal fork. Just the job.

Auntie Aggie fancies herself as a dab hand in the baking stakes. She'd been admiring her new dentures in the gazebo but caught sight of my reflection in the mirror in a haze of flour, sensed cake making activity and couldn't help herself. Sauntering into the kitchen in her pinny, she watched for a minute, then wandered past the bench with a slow air of menace like an invigilator during exam time. I was busy licking the cake mix off the fork and my fingers. I knew she was there, I could hear the slipper-shuffle and detected the pungent funk of moths balls, last Christmas's eau de toliette and peppermint creams. She coolly whispered the word 'buffoon' in my ear as she drifted past and out the room.

The cakes are in and whatever size and shape they come out of the oven they'll keep me going over the next few days.

Meanwhile I thought this picture of the eggs that were spared a death worse than cake (Dundee Cake, that is) look like some baldy martians setting off for a roller coaster ride in Blackpool.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Berwick is Bracing

What with one thing and another over the last few weeks, the 'me' time for the old sporting hobbies has had to take a back seat, so I was happy to get out for 20 miles on Saturday morning on the new bike and shoehorned in a full-on 45 minute sesh through the woods later in the day.
On the Sunday I nipped up to Berwick upon Tweed to see what was occurring at the Berwick Trail 10k, a new cancer charity run in memory of one of the Berwick Harriers.
It was a grey day and a cool very fresh breeze was coming off the sea as we tried to keep warm at Spital Point. I saw a few familiar faces warming up and there were any number of folk with dogs who presumably were going to walk it. A small gang of us started at 11a.m and we careered along the promenade with a side wind before climbing out of the bay up a steep gravel path, under a railway bridge and across some rolling fields making our way to Scremerston. I was sitting around 12th I think and there was initially a little group 10-15 seconds ahead but this soon split after the bridge leaving a string of lone runners to combat the wind as we headed along the road then down Cow Road and across more fields at the 4 mile mark.
I targeted a couple of guys well in front who seemed to be dropping off the pace and caught both to eventually get me up to 9th (again) in 39:11, but still perhaps a minute down at the end of what I know I can do.
We all got a medal and after a quick natter with a few buds it was off back down the road. Not a bad workout and happy to support a good cause. Results on the Berwick Harriers Website.

Monday, 4 October 2010


It was a cracking day once the mist lifted and finding myself down in deepest Yorkshire on the way home after finishing a job, I parked up near Otley and had a most agreeable 3 mile plod in Chevin Woods, or Danesfield Woods, or Poolscar Woods...somewhere around there anyway and it was great to feel the heat trying to warm up the ground where the rays of sun broke through the canopy between the sycamores and chestnuts.

On the way up the hill past the red and green sandstone plinths that look down on the town , I passed one bloke who said 'nice day for it'...I don't know what 'it' was, but I took him at his word.

On the way back, a different bloke said 'ello' and then added 'getting some oxygen?' although it could have been 'get some oxygen'. Either way, next week when I have to go back down I'll take my fell shoes (and aqualung).

Last week it was a wander from Shipley along the canal to just past Bingley and back. I also like the look of Almscliffe Crag, the one you can see in the distance in one of these 'ere photos, so I might keep that for 'afters' in a fortnight.

Meanwhile tonight's burnt offering was 10 miles round the lanes with the usual suspects. Its getting so dark now, so we'll soon be limited to the streets. Might stretch my legs at the weekend at Manor Water. After the 2008 experience, I'll be doing well to get there on time. Better leave early.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Vicar of Ridley

Following July's burst of activity on the cycling front, August and September have been meagre in road miles. It would have helped of course if I hadn't stripped down my road bike and butchered the stand-by frame. But the real work can now start in earnest as long as Earnest doesn't mind. I have dragged myself into the 21st century and rummaged around the piggy bank to bag a 2009 Crossbow frame. Bargain. The nice chap at the bike shop even put a chain set on and suggested he might see me at the cyclocross events this winter. Yes, maybe, but only if he's as cringe-worthily slow as me.

Its been an oil and grease caked morning with the aromatic smell of thick glupy hydrocarbon and WD40 lubricants pervading the lounge where I go about my new trade of bikie quietly and efficiently. There's only a few spots of oil on the carpet. Still, early days. I haven't got half the tools I need and some of the new fangled fittings are headscratchingly devious for an old skool lad like me.

I am the new vicar of Ridley; Ridley in the Alien, the lead singer in the Boo Ridleys and Vin D. in the Chronicles of Ridley. With needing a few new parts, its dawning on me just how cheap a sport running is. I think I'll end up blowing 1 or 2 years worth of trainer money on various pieces of shiny aluminium, only to take them into soft, mud splattered bogs and fields.

Meanwhile, as I recall passing a couple of the lads in the car as they tore through the streets yesterday in the pouring rain, I see the gnarled wraith of guilt leaning against the door, dangling the Salomons by their laces and pointing with her scrawy finger toward the front door. Best get out for some miles.