Mar 262015

John Grimshaw has been on his travels again and sends us this excellent report from the Lincoln 10K:

Lincoln is a city and an area of the UK I have never visited and I had heard good things about the cathedral. Travelling into Lincoln at night you can see the cathedral lit up, dominating the skyline as it is on a hill….. This was pretty impressive! It also holds one of the 4 copies of Magna Carta but sadly this and the castle (which was nearing the end of a £22mil restoration process) were not accessible but the city still had plenty to see.

The race on the Sunday was ran over a mainly flat road course, which were closed to vehicles for the race, and it was in the shape of a figure of eight ending outside the cathedral. The start staging area was well sign posted and had a bag drop off point (3 huge trucks), a race HQ and plenty of clean porta loos.

The race start area was also segregated into ‘pens’ marked sub 35,40,45,50 & 55 with an area at the back for joggers. This was an excellent idea however, anyone could go into any pen which did mean there were the obligatory over ambitious runners in pens designated for faster runners (a pet hate of mine!).15 mins before the race you were informed via tannoy, which were very good, that there would be a mass warm up (which you could hear but couldn’t see unless you were in the front pen!) The start was delayed due to an emergency call on the route but there was good humoured banter over the tannoy with the racers to help pass the time.

When the race did get underway, it started with the wheel chair racers followed by the runners 2 minutes later. Each pen set off together which caused some bunching before the start but generally you got away well (all be a number of slow unrealistic joggers in the fast pens grrrr!!)

There was excellent support all the way round the course and the figure of eight meant you went past a couple of places multiple times giving good vantage points to spectators.

A water station at 5k was well manned and on both sides of the route, though they may have struggled at the peak times. Waste bins to dispose of used water bottles were also situated both sides of the road but rather close to the water station meaning two gulps and you were there.

The chip timers are built into the race number which is made out of tear resistant paper, I signed up for the season ticket which entitles me to 5 races in the series over March to August, Lincoln is the first followed by Hull and Burnley in June, Leeds in July and York in August (I’m doing all but Hull as have other commitments).

How your race number (which you keep for the whole series) will stand up to the rigours of 4 (potentially 5) races we will have to see.

As well as your number it has your first name on it and there were a number of spectators shouting encouragement and your name… That said there may have been 5 Johns running behind me!!

Just before the finishing line you run through an arch which is part of the old priory gate after which is a short 10m downhill stretch to the finish allowing a glory sprint finish!

The finishing area was large and stretched around the south of the cathedral. You were encouraged to move around to the water and sports drink point, followed by the swag bag collection points, available in small/medium/large and XL but there was a significantly larger queue at the medium section which may have benefitted from two or more queues?
The swag bag included a T-shirt and nice medal (see photos)

After this point, at the front of the cathedral there was plenty of room where you could arrange to meet friends and family.

The medal was quite nice with the cathedral on it and made of metal (see photo)

Walking back to the car I was presented with a free banana from ‘revolution’ that had a two for one pizza and free drink sticker on it. There were a number of other businesses on the return route that offered discounts to finishers indicating a buy in and support from these local

All in all I would have to say Lincoln is a nice place to visit and it is somewhere I would go back to (but more in season and when the castle has reopened)

A spectators view …. my partner.
As a supporter of Mr Grimshaw, I have been to many runs as a spectator and I have to say this one was one of the better organised. There was plenty of viewing places to comfortably watch the runners within easy walking distance. The marshals were friendly yet kept control of the spectators, asking us politely to stop where we were, within the areas where there were no barriers allowing access to the other side of the road, whilst the runners were passing as to not interrupt the race. The support off the spectators was fantastic and with many people holding up banners and posters with words of encouragement on them and others constantly shouting supporting words and clapping throughout.

From my vantage point near the start It was about a 10-15 minute walk back to the finish line and when I got there it was so busy but definitely had a good atmosphere for the tired runners running in. The only problem for me was that it was so busy I was standing on my tip toes at the back of a crowd and missed seeing John cross the finish line.

Overall it was a beautiful day and that really did help as a spectator, but I definitely wouldn’t mind going to watch this race again.

 March 26, 2015  Posted by at 6:00 pm Photos, Race Reports No Responses »
Mar 222015

Newcastle parkrun:

19:01   Paul Robinson
19:54   Roberto Marzo
20:43   Paul Hughes
20:46   Heather Steel
21:08   Dean O’Brien   PB
21:34   Jeremy Smith
22:21   Mungai Wairia
23:07   Richard Slack

Gateshead parkrun:

19:24   Sumanth Nayak
30:27   Dave Manners

Riverside parkrun:

19:56   Catherine Young   PB – Free, timed, 5k runs every Saturday 9am

 March 22, 2015  Posted by at 7:42 am Results No Responses »
Mar 162015

The 2014/15 cross-country season was brought to a close at Wrekenton on a fairly cold but dry day.  This is far from my favourite course but seemed to be popular with my Claremont team mates.  As at Alnwick, there was no real mud to get excited about but the course has enough ups and downs to be challenging anyway.

Once again there was a good turnout for the ladies and it was nice to see the Moon girls, Tracey and Angela, making their return on what is their local course.  Tracey ran well to finish 35th and Angela, who needn’t have worried about being last as she did well, coming on stronger on the second lap.  Overall it was a steady performance from the ladies with Sarah and Charlotte making good ground from the medium pack.

Pos. Time Runner
35 29:28 Tracey Etherington
71 30:01 Julie Cross
156 31:13 Sarah Bowen (medium pack – actual time 29:13)
165 31:22 Heidi Swaffield
171 31:29 Charlotte Spencer (medium pack – actual time 29:29)
178 31:41 Michelle Nesbitt-Burrell
257 34:38 Mary Martin
295 37:47 Elaine Henderson
313 41:52 Angela Moon


It wasn’t such a good turnout from the men. Both Bill and Jonathan were starting with injuries, Bill having the sense to dropout when he felt the pain return. Jonathan, conscious of supposedly taking it easy, still overtook me at the very start of the 3rd lap. However he didn’t quite manage to catch Matthew who was showing signs of a return to full form and fitness. I ran most of the way within a few places of Jeremy, who had run a fast parkrun that morning having forgotten about the cross-country until afterwards and so was showing signs of fatigue! Another parkrunner that morning was Roberto, though he fared slightly better overtaking both Jeremy and I half-way around the last lap. We were followed home by Alasdair and Jamie in a fairly close grouping of Claremonters.

Pos. Time Runner
167 39:20 Matthew Kingston
184 39:46 Jonathan Gilroy (medium pack – actual time 37:06)
230 40:19 Roberto Marzo
253 40:40 Tom Tinsley
258 40:46 Jeremy Smith
304 41:55 Alasdair Wilson Craw
373 44:15 Jamie Harding

On the day the ladies came 10th in Division 2 to finish the season in 14th place.
The men were 2nd in Division 3 to finish 5th overall. For the men it is a case of “if only” having suffered for not fielding a full team at Aykley Heads (sorry, I couldn’t make that one).

Special mention must be made of our Team Captain, Jonathan Gilroy, who ran through the pain barrier to complete every Harrier League race this season and to finish in a very imopressive 38th place in the individual standings. Well done!

 March 16, 2015  Posted by at 1:18 pm North East Harrier League No Responses »
Mar 162015

Once again a disappointing turnout from Claremont for the NS Poly Grand Prix.  It seems that we are dropping like flies with injuries!  The five of us there enjoyed a fairly pleasant night for running.

Pos. Time Runner
29 26:41 Nina Jensen
47 23:18 Tom Tinsley
54 27:46 Ben Hull
63 23:53 Heather Steel (2nd fastest lady)
76 26:14 David Devennie
 March 16, 2015  Posted by at 12:19 pm Results No Responses »
Mar 162015

Richard Slack sent this report of Wednesday’s interval session:

On a calm evening with light still holding beyond 6pm we headed off to the quayside for the timed miles.  My first experience of this session was my very first Claremont session in October 2014 with Dave Kear at the helm in the pouring rain and wind.  Despite that, the timed miles has ever since been an interval session that I look forward to!  Thus when Dave asked if I could lead the session on Wednesday I was happy to do so – a task made easier by the small group of Claremonters taking part following a grand prix event the evening before.

Our group of 10 started with the customary warm up lap around 10 minutes to show everyone the way and the little out and back across the cobbles on the homeward leg of the run.  Thereafter we all ran our normal three miles with about a three minute rest in between each one.  After the first mile Heather and Roberto came sprinting along – they were not late , but rather completing their second or third miles – the lure of the Tyne on a balmy March evening!

A grand night as always with some very consistent times. Sun cream at the ready for those glorious days ahead!

Results here.

 March 16, 2015  Posted by at 12:05 pm Club News No Responses »
Mar 112015

As we were down south this weekend visiting our son and his girlfriend in Harrow, we decided to let them have their  Saturday morning lie-in in peace whilst Gill and I took the opportunity to sample the nearest parkrun which is at Northala Fields in Northolt.

Anybody familiar with driving west out of London on the A40 will know a line of 4 very distinctive man-made mounds alongside the main road.  These mounds, which were made from the rubble of Wenbley Stadium, mark the start of a very pleasant park with good pathways.  We had arrived early and the cafe wasn’t yet open, so, resisting the temptation to join a few keen parkrunners in climbing the mounds for a warm-up, we had a leisurely stroll.  Behind the mounds it is like a mini-wetlands centre with a number of small ponds, reedbeds and a surprising variety of birdlife and was very pleasant indeed.

The run is a single lap and actual covers two parks.  The start and finish are conveniently situated between the mounds and the cafe.   The first kilometre is a flattish loop around the mounds.  I found myself at the back of the leading group but knew that I couldn’t keep up with them.  The second kilometre was fairly straight but was into a stiff breeze and I fell way behind the leaders.  The path then went through a narrow woodland to come out in the second park, which was a flat, open field with numerous football pitches.  We left the park and ran on the pavement alongside it.  The leaders were so far ahead that I felt I was running on my own.  Then, about half way along this stretch, which was also about half-way in the course, a tall, leggy runner came bounding past me and left me for dead.  Checking the results afterwards, he caught the leading pack so I can only think he started late or had been having a chat for the first kilometre or so!

We then skirted the football pitches and returned to the cafe via the same path we had left on, before doing the loop around the mounds in the opposite direction and heading to the finish.  It was a very un-parkrun like race for me as I felt on my own for most of it, as can be seen in the photo below where there is just a solitary marshal and no other runners in view.  I finished 7th, 37 seconds behind 6th and 36 seconds ahead of 8th.  There were 115 finishers, so I can’t quite understand how that happened.  Perhaps the locals, who seemed friendly enough, had an allergy to running with northerners!

I then joined Gill to encourage her at the finish, and we went for a well-earned cup of tea sitting outside the cafe in time to see the tail-end of the runners come home.  Suitably refreshed, we then climbed the mound to get fantastic views across London and beyond.  All in all, a very pleasant place for parkrun and a great start to our weekend.

The course is 90% flat with just a couple of minor undulations around the mounds.  Like the toonrun, it is on good paths – a mix of concrete and trails, so I think it is definitely one for a fast time.  My excuses for not getting one are a gruelling 8.5 miles the day before in a the howling gales we had in the North East and too much free wine as we had travelled down first-class! (our 1st class ticket was cheaper than the 2nd class one for the return journey, though now Virgin run the line, there may be fewer special offers).


 March 11, 2015  Posted by at 3:22 pm Race Reports 1 Response »
Mar 092015

Nina Jensen took part in this inaugural run at one of Northumberland’s more unusual tourist spots and sent this report:

The warmer weather we were promised this weekend did not materialise so after a 7 mile bike ride into the wind towards Northumberlandia for the inaugural 5k, I was feeling a bit tired.  Organised by local running shop Ultra Runner, the route I had been sent earlier in the week was confusing so I hoped it was going to become clearer on site.  The race was delayed slightly as Tony the organiser explained that although he had tape marked the route last night, unfortunately the howling gales had put pay to that so marshals had been out to re tape the site.
I knew I would have a few runners ahead of me so hoped I could follow them and the marshals instructions to get round.  We were advised that if we did go the wrong way, eventually we would know as we would come across routes blocked by tape.  As a previous winner of the Claremont Navigator of the Year award, I wasn’t sure whether I would make it back to the finish or be found 3 days later still running around the site.
The race started with a loop around the base of the land sculpture then we turned and climbed the first short ramp into the paths that weave in and around her.
Twisting and turning around the route with some fast downhill sections as well as some steep uphill climbs.  As I ran the route I could see runners ahead and behind although at some points I had no idea which was which.
Finally we descended back onto the path that looped back around the side of the sculpture and towards the finish. As this point it was back into the wind again. The marshal shouted encouragement (well at least I think it was although with the wind roaring around my ears she could have been shouting insults!).
A very tall runner who had been behind me all race overtook me at that point as I struggled to breathe and see with the wind directly in my face.  I tried to tuck in behind him but his long legs got the better of me and he beat me by a good few seconds over the line.
All in all an enjoyable experience and definitely one I’d do again.
20150307_084902 (800x446)Northumberlandia5K
 March 9, 2015  Posted by at 10:18 am Race Reports No Responses »
Mar 082015

By Jamie Harding

This is a fine event, but not if you enjoy a lie in. At 5.15 a.m. I’m leaving the house, telling my disappointed dog Lucy that I can’t take her out this morning, but my wife Allison will take her for a walk later, before she goes out for the day (it’s Allison who’s going out for the day, not Lucy). Registration at Bamburgh Castle is at 7 a.m. then by 8 a.m. we’ve been taken to a field and are receiving a long drawn out briefing in sight of Alnwick Castle, where many other club members will be running in the cross country later in the day.

The first part of the race goes along trails out to Alnmouth. I hear a man with a bald patch a similar shape to mine say that he has set his watch to pace him at 10 minute miles; this would mean finishing in just under 6 hours, much quicker than my time last year of approximately 6 hours 45 minutes and 53 seconds. So I decide to try to keep the bald patch in sight all the way round.

My plan hits a snag when we reach the beach at Alnmouth and I do two very British things. Firstly, although it’s the end of February, the beach inspires me to take my clothes off, or at least the Hadrian’s Wall Relay 2007 t shirt that I have on underneath my Claremont top. Secondly, as I run along the shore, I imagine myself in the classic film Chariots of Fire and start reciting the dialogue: “We are here today to give thanks for the life of Harold Abrahams …”

By the 13 mile mark, I know that I am on schedule because I have overtaken the bald patch and, unlike last year, I pass the half marathon runners before they start. They break off from listening to their long drawn out briefing to applaud us which is great – soon they will be coming past us, as will some of the fastest of the marathon runners (who start an hour after us) and eventually the 10k runners.

My friend and role model Jason Mellor once said that there are two terrible moments in an ultra marathon – one when you think you are going to die and one when you realise that you are not. I’m dangerously close to the first of these as we approach Bamburgh Castle and a test of character: one arrow saying ‘finish’ and the other saying ‘ultra’. But I’m half an hour inside my time for last year: even if I stop to walk most of the last 9 miles, I should beat my time.

I am walking soon as we go across a bumpy field of dry mud, then I’m on a long straight road, where five of us are doing that odd run which is quicker than walking, but not much. The road stretch just goes on and on but eventually we return to the beach and a short stretch back to the castle. I just miss out on beating six hours but am approximately 43 minutes and 22 seconds faster than last year, so delighted with that.

The end of the race and time for the final credits: “Eric Liddle died in occupied China in 1945. All of Scotland mourned. Harold Abrahams became the elder statesman of British Athletics until his death in 1973. Jamie Harding drove home and found that, despite his efforts, his dog still expected to be taken for her evening walk.” So it’s off to the park for the slowest lap in history.

 March 8, 2015  Posted by at 2:10 pm Race Reports No Responses »