Saturday, 27 July 2013


Still getting over the excitement of this years Sunderland 5k road race.
If the London marathon is the Rio Carnival, then this event could be the Pamplona bull run. It certainly seemed like that as over 300 eager athletes spilled over the sides of the pavement in the park at Ryhope with eager dribbling anticipation of a pb.
There’s not many fun runners for this event. It was hot and humid, but little wind. Its an eyeballs out event and no mistake. With 750m of downhill from the  start, its a race that’s garnered a reputation for a fast time. The start was marred by a runner who took a tumble but the field soon stretched out along the tree lined boulevard I found myself behind my young ‘un for the first kilometre. This is a new experience. However, wisdom over youth soon prevailed, order soon restored and I pushed on and caught up with Alison Dargie of Elswick. The event’s so short and the field tight on this two lapper that there’s no time to do anything else but pan yourself. We passed a few ahead and before I knew it, we were passing the 3k mark. I vied for the front position from time to time over the next kilometre but there were runners all around me; darting left and right like fireflies, looking for the gap, for the edge. I was on the highway to the danger zone. With the finish line looming,  Dargie put her triathlon training to good use and got a few metres ahead.  I was happy to finish strongly in a heat induced lather. 
Quickest I’ve ran a 5k in a couple of years so pleased with the result.  I’ll need to go some to catch the 1st M50 though, Bracken, who had finished in 15:47. Even if they fired me from a catapult at the start and gave me a copy of the fortean times, some caffeine tablets and a small blue tardis, I still wouldn't catch him. He was probably sipping a pina colada and enjoying the samba music by the time I crossed the line.  

In the meantime I’ve been foraging in the wee garden daily as the hot weather’s brought the fruit out. The tatties are flowering, so could be potatoes for the next fortnight now that I’ve exhausted the rasps and strawbs.  Not sure what to run this weekend, but for today its the bike.  Some sexy sportive is calling to me next week, so best get some miles in.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Beaconhill Fell Race - Don't stop till you get enough

As I sat close in behind a speedy runner from Tynedale Harriers, resplendent in his all black gear, I tried to concentrate. I tried hard even as the beads of sweat trickled down my cheeks.
His pace was just beyond my limit as we began the short ascent through the pine forest near the halfway mark of last nights Beaconhill Fell Race at Rothbury. I felt my breathing struggle. The legs were not responding.  He was getting away (again)....

My mind was somewhere else. All I could think of as hoards of flies swarmed around my sweat-laden bandana in the summer heat was Michael Jacksons 'blame it on the boogie'. As I tried to jettison the tune lodged doggedly somewhere in the acoustic cavern of my psyche, it morphed to something else. The heat was really getting to me.

As he pulled away on the short climb back up to the ridge, it was for the second time in the 6 mile fell race that he had 20 seconds on me. He was even catching a tall NFR runner ahead. As I watched him go, I turned and looked back only to see Saltwell's Smith not far behind.

However, I wasn't done yet. 
Having given the flies the heave-ho as I ran along the dry-as-sticks sandstone track, I also passed the NFR runner and was still in the chase.  A very hot pursuit.

The competition took a sharp right and set off up the last steep climb of the day, a scramble up the gritstone face through the heather to the top of Simonside. He disappeared from view. But it's easier to chase than lead, at least in my book. I think (pitifully) that it was the fact that he had some grey hair and I guessed he might be my V50 competition that I didn't give in.  Over the climb is the ridge and as we both ran along the sandstone slabs along the Simonside ridge, he was coming back. He slowed a little as the paving gave way to rough track on a short descent that required either some 'technical' skills or just being 'abit mental'. In my small armoury of blunt, fell running weapons, that means announcing 'f+*# it' and launching myself down over the boulders and cobbles with arms waving wondering which teeth I might break first if I went down.

I caught him sooner than I would have thought possible and then sat in as we continued over more flattish paving and steps. However I took a different route going down a short drop and hit the front and had no option then but to crack on at full blast across to Dove Crag and down to Lordenshaw Car Park. What a blidy effort for an old man.
Finished 6th and collected a modest bottle of wine for my trouble.  He wasn't even in my category it transpired. Still, got under the hour and waited for the young 'un to come in before we took off back home.  By that time my head was full of 'Don't stop till you get enough....' OOOW.
Thanks to M for the photos and NFR for the race.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Cronkley Fell Race, Durham

It wasn’t until I woke on Sunday morning that I decided to run Cronkley. First time for me. A straight out and back fell race of 10.5miles and 1700ft of ascent over the Yorkshire Dales in Teesdale. It starts at the Strathmore Arms, 3 miles up a dead end near Middleton in Teesdale but set in a beautiful craggy limestone landscape with short cropped grass and gravel tracks.
There were fifty who started and running 5 miles straight into a stiff headwind, it was a grind. I tried to initiate a bit of work and take turns peeling off with a couple of runners, but this failed miserably and predictably, so I ploughed on and soon we were all strung out along the moor. The wind was so strong I felt my cheeks billowing and stretching like I was on a roller coaster or maybe going through a worm hole in a star trek film.
After the coarse gravel track it was onto a boggy stretch with thick reedy grass and we had to pick our way over a couple of rocky streams. I managed to get pretty close to the runner ahead as we climbed up onto Cronkley Crags, but let him slip away on the sometimes rocky descent to the turn at the River Tees. My number had blown off so I decided to stick it in my bumbag rather than run with it in hand. I crossed the river, wading unsteadily over the slippy boulders which lined the river bed. The marshall with the clip had a good laugh on the other side. As I turned I was shocked to see 3 others right behind me and also already coming at me through the brown peaty water. I had thought, mistakenly, that I might have had a gap. Obviously not the case. drat. 
I took off back up the climb to the Crags, but decided to walk and thought if I got passed...well, good luck to them. One of the three was Graham Burns of Durham Fell Runners and my V50 competition. I was passed halfway up by the young Elvet runner and then at the top a rangey Pudsey runner came by. No sign of the DFR dangerman though.
With a strong tailwind, I was hanging on in behind Elvet and as Pudsey came past with his big strides, I decided he was going to get us home quicker, and off I went. I was running behind him so fast that I could hardly keep up with my legs and was furiously scanning every step to make sure I avoided the grey boulders poking their angular heads through the short grass.
With around 2 miles to go, Pudsey moved on and I never got back to him. My speed dropped. I teetered dangerously  on a boulder in the stream and almost lost my foot down a rabbit hole, but was soon on the unforgiving gravel track and it was up along Ore Carr and then down to Holwick Crag and the finish. I allowed myself a quick look back near the finish and there was no one in sight. Crossed in 1:28 (8th) and after having a light hearted moan to the organiser about the gratuitous river crossing at the 5 mile mark, thanked him and left, having a lunch to attend to back up the road.  
Some great photos on display at Results at the DFR site. Absolutely wiped out last night.