Aug 282014

By Luke Woodend

Having spent my formative years in Keswick I was pleased to learn earlier this year that the town would be getting its very own parkrun. Now a weekend visit back home to see the folks can incorporate a swift Saturday morning timed 5k without the hassle of a lengthy detour via Carlisle or Workington.

With a committed core of local running types (thanks in no small part to some challenging annuals such as the Half Marathon and Derwentwater 10) I always thought a parkrun would be well received in Keswick. With an average turnout around the 100 mark that seems to ring true although I get the impression that about half of those are parkrun tourists, with accents and running vests suggesting a good number from the Northeast.

With the town’s municipal spaces awash with dog walkers and tourists by 9am on a Saturday the organisers have wisely forsaken the likes of Fitz Park as a venue. Instead, this is a parkrun that utilises a redundant railway line. The startline is at the former station, now preserved as a lounge for the Keswick Country House Hotel. This is a short walk from the town centre and there are public toilets and Pay & Display parking on site.

The course itself sets out on the railway line footpath in the direction of Threlkeld. Although a loose surface, this is a fairly level route by Lakeland standards. A brief climb towards the A66 bypass bridge at the 1k mark, and subsequent bouncy boardwalk descent constitutes the only significant elevation change. That said, as this is an out and back course what goes down of course comes back up and the boardwalk seems less enjoyable on the return leg!

The footpath is narrow in places compared to some of the waggonway type routes in the Northeast. However, with runners reminded to keep left and a more modest turnout than the likes of Newcastle parkrun this doesn’t really cause a problem.

Due to the terrain this isn’t a route for a PB but for me gunning for out and out pace misses the point of a parkrun. This event ticks all the boxes for accessibility, challenge and friendliness. For post race refreshments there are surely few locations that could match Keswick. The recently opened Museum café nearby even does a parkrunners special bacon butty and coffee deal on production of your barcode. Alternatively I can highly recommend the breakfast menu at The Filling Station Café on Crosthwaite Road. I’ll not go into my pub recommendations; that could take some time….

 August 28, 2014  Posted by at 6:10 pm Race Reports No Responses »
Aug 272014

An excellent turnout from Claremont on a nice night for a run along the coast, including some of the newer members and a couple returning from injury. It was especially pleasing to see Duncan Scott not only back from injury, but immediately running a sub-40 minute 10K.   Well done to Paul Robinson for a 10K PB and to Jonathan Gilroy for his top ten finish and another good time, just a few seconds off the PB he set recently.  One final point – Ben must be lying about his age!

Position Time Name Category
10 00:37:11 GILROY, Jonathon M
17 00:38:07 ROBINSON, Paul M 10K PB
19 00:38:29 SCOTT, Duncan M / 40
30 00:39:39 SMITH, Jeremy M / 45
40 00:40:14 MARZO, Roberto M
46 00:40:56 KINGSTON, Matthew M / 40
53 00:41:19 TINSLEY, Tom M / 55
58 00:41:49 MEJSTRIK, Lukas M
61 00:42:14 STEEL, Heather F
71 00:42:51 MACFADYEN, Gordon M / 50
100 00:44:42 MAINS, Jonathon M
107 00:45:22 ELLMAN, Jeremy M / 55
109 00:45:28 DEVINNE, David M / 40
124 00:45:57 SAUNDERS, David M / 50
139 00:47:15 HULL, Ben M / 70
145 00:47:35 JENSEN, Nina F / 40
152 00:48:14 NESBITT-BURRELL, Michelle F
166 00:49:05 MILBOURNE, Bill M / 65
195 00:51:51 DUMPLETON, Julie F / 45
198 00:52:02 BURRELL, Andrew M
202 00:52:26 KEAR, David M / 65
203 00:52:36 MCCORMICK, Kenny M / 60
 August 27, 2014  Posted by at 4:52 pm Results No Responses »
Aug 262014

Newcastle parkrun:

19:19   Jeremy Smith
19:38   Roberto Marzo
20:04   Tom Tinsley
20:20   Gordon Macfadyen
20:48   Lukas Mejstrik
23:56   Luke Woodend
24:38   Kenny McCormick
24:46   Dave Kear
25:28   Mary Martin

Oxford parkrun:

23:21   Ben Hull

Whitley Bay parkrun:

24:19   Bill Milbourne

Riverside parkrun:

23:15   Chris Hogarth
28:19   Sionna McCutcheon

Keswick parkrun:

19:09   Paul Robinson
21:43   Heather Steel – Free, timed, 5k runs every Saturday 9am

 August 26, 2014  Posted by at 7:16 am Results No Responses »
Aug 202014

St Helens is one of the newer parkruns and is now the nearest parkrun to my mother’s, so as we were there for the weekend, Gill and I decided to give it a try.  It is in park that was completely new to me, Victoria Park, so we didn’t really know what to expect and the course map on the website filled us with some trepidation:


Having run the course, I’m still not sure how it maps onto the picture! Everybody congregated around the bandstand before filing en masse around the corner to the start line, then we were off through the middle of the park before turning and doing 3 full laps around the outside. The park slopes slightly from top to bottom, so there is an uphill and downhill stretch on each lap. I heard a couple of the locals commenting on the wind, but the park is fairly sheltered and it was nothing for us battle-hardened Town Moor veterans, especially as it had the decency to be behind us for the uphill sections.

The field spread out quite quickly and I could see a couple of fast lads disappearing into the distance, but I estimated that I was about 10th as we came around to complete the first lap.   I was having a tussle with a tall guy who struggled up the hill and then caught me on the downhills.  We exchanged a few words as we ran and he kept me right as to when to turn for the fourth, final shorter lap.  In general, I don’t like laps.  We were passing the slower runners before the end of the second lap and that never feels good to me (I know how it feels to be lapped at cross-country).  By the third lap, I’d lost sight of the leaders and was having to weave in and out past runners still on their second time around.

On the fourth, shorter lap, I missed one of the direction arrows and turned the wrong way.  I immediately heard shouts of “turn left” from a marshal and the runners behind me.  By the time I’d got back on track, I’d lost 3 places and a few seconds.  Another guy sprinted past me on the run-in and I finished in a respectable 15th place out of 140 runners.  The three runners who had overtaken me all came to chat and I generally found the natives to be friendly.  Unfortunately we didn’t have time to join them for the after run coffee.

Both Gill and I were first in our age categories and, in fact, I am now my age category record holder – but as there have only been 7 events,  I don’t think that will last for long.

It is a shame that the park is a bit small as the laps are off-putting, but the locals were friendly and the volunteers enthusiastic, so I will be back soon to defend (or, more likely, try to regain) my title.

 August 20, 2014  Posted by at 1:57 pm Race Reports No Responses »
Aug 182014

Newcastle parkrun:

18:45   Jeremy Smith   100 parkruns
19:20   Roberto Marzo
20:04   Gordon Macfadyen
25:17   Mary Martin

Coventry parkrun:

24:49   Dave Kear

St Helens parkrun:

20:15   Tom Tinsley

Gateshead parkrun:

20:17   Alasdair Wilson Craw

Keswick parkrun:

24:01   Luke Woodend – Free, timed, 5k runs every Saturday 9am

 August 18, 2014  Posted by at 7:55 am Results 1 Response »
Aug 122014

By Jeremy Smith

I was staying at my parents in Burnley over the weekend and thought I would try out the Burnley parkrun which is now in its third year. The run takes place in the grounds of Towneley Hall, home to the Towneley family for over 500 years and now owned by the local council and a place that is very familiar to me because, as a child, I would often visit it at weekends.

The course consists of one small (triangular) lap and two longer (rectangular) laps – I’m not very keen on runs involving laps but it does have the attraction when it is run for the first time, that you know what to expect when you reach the final lap!

The first lap starts with a short run (maybe 300m) along the northern boundary of Towneley Hall and then a long drag up (what is known as) the Avenue towards the hall itself (and which would be the finish in two laps’ time) – by this time I found myself (rather surprisingly) in third position, maybe 10 seconds behind the leading two runners.

The run continues downhill along the side of a municipal golf course (where I used to play when I came home from university) and back to the start. It then continues along the northern boundary again, but instead of running up the Avenue, passes the playing fields, where I used to play cricket, along the eastern boundary of the park, over a small stream, past the changing rooms, and then up the Avenue again. At this stage I was still in third place, albeit about 25 seconds behind the two leaders.

I managed to maintain my position for the third lap (I know it’s a run not a race but when you’re in third place you treat it as a race!) – my best ever position (albeit that the competition is considerably less intense than at Newcastle parkrun) – and finished around 45 seconds behind the winner and 30 seconds behind the second-placed runner, both of whom ran for Clayton-le-Harriers, the club for whom the female runner with an age percentage of over 92% and whom I had finished immediately behind the previous week at Pollok parkrun (Glasgow) also ran! After my parkrun tour, it’s back to Newcastle and my 100th run on Saturday!

 August 12, 2014  Posted by at 6:24 am Race Reports No Responses »
Aug 122014

Newcastle parkrun:

19:34   Roberto Marzo
20:04   Tom Tinsley
20:30   Paul Robinson
20:33   Heather Steel
20:40   Gordon Macfadyen
22:49   Julie Cross
24:49   Dave Kear
25:09   Kenny McCormick
25:40   Mary Martin

Bradford parkrun:

18:36   Luke Jones

Whitley Bay parkrun:

23:48   Bill Milbourne

Burnley parkrun:

19:16   Jeremy Smith

Riverside parkrun:

23:27   Chris Hogarth
28:00   Sionna McCutcheon – Free, timed, 5k runs every Saturday 9am

 August 12, 2014  Posted by at 6:18 am Results No Responses »
Aug 052014

By Paul Hughes

David has already written an excellent report on the Lakeland 50 but I thought I’d add a report on my own experiences of the race…………

The Lakeland 50 is an Ultra Marathon held on the last weekend of July each year in the Lake District along with its sister race the Lakeland 100. The course runs from Dalemain in the North lakes down to Coniston. As the name suggests it is 50 miles long with the added bonus of ten thousand feet of ascent/decent (that’s two and a bit Ben Nevises or two thirds of a Mont Blanc in mountain terms), you get twenty four hours to complete the course which when you work it out is quite generous provided you can just keep moving and do without sleep. There’s more on both races here…….. .

My last attempt to complete the race ended badly – I tore my calf muscle and withdrew after 4 miles – the truth is that I shouldn’t have been running anyway (I knew there was a problem with my calf) but my ego took a bit of a blow and it then took 4 months and a lot of physio work to get running again. This time a friend (Scott) had also signed up for the race and initially we were planning on going for a sub 13 hour time but further injury issues forced a bit of a re-think and the new target became 15 hours.

Lakeland 50 route

Lakeland 50 route


Registration takes place the night before the race. You go along and have your race kit checked (all runners must carry a pack with spare gear, survival blanket, hat, gloves, waterproofs, spare food, first aid kit, map, compass, hydration tablets and water etc) depending on how much you’re prepared to spend this can weigh up to 6kg when the weather is hot as you need to take more water. Failure to have all the gear leads to disqualification and unsurprisingly the race organisers take this very seriously. As part of the registration all runners are also weighed (slightly embarrassingly your weight is then written on your race number for all to see!) and we are given a timing chip which has to be dibbed into a reader at each check point along the route. The hall where registration took place was packed and we couldn’t help noticing that the competitors this year looked even more wiry, athletic, experienced, well equipped than usual. As it turned out there was a good reason for this as this year the race was the official UK athletics national ultra running championship, most of the country’s elite ultra runners were here hoping for a top ten placing. Suitably humbled by the company we were in me and Scott got through registration and headed back to our digs to carb up on pasta and a couple of beers, secure in the knowledge that we wouldn’t see much of the elite guys except at the start line.

The morning of the race we fuelled up on porridge and we made our way to the race safety briefing. Mark Laithwaite (the race director) gave a mostly fun but occasionally stern briefing with the main message being “this is a hard race and the weather forecast is for temperatures in the high twenties with high humidity and no breeze, if you haven’t made a plan B yet you have short time to make one, today is not a day for records”. Briefing over we were bussed out to the start – there was about an hour to wait before the 11:30 start time during which we could feel the temperature steadily building and go to the loo a lot.

All smiles before the race

All smiles before the race

At 11:25 we were summoned into the starting pen, there was music coming from the PA system (not Last of the Mohicans this year – sorry Sumanth). Then there was a ten second countdown and we were off!

Leg 1 – Dalemain to Howtown (distance 11.7km [7.4miles] – Ascent 294m [965 feet])

The race starts with a lap of the Dalemain estate, mostly undulating on good tracks – running felt comfortable but with two litres of water my pack felt heavy, the heat was high but not awful though I could feel the humidity and was sweating heavily straight away. With the first 4 mile loop out of the way the track heads to Pooley Bridge and the runners start to spread out. We jogged through Pooley Bridge and there were lots of cheers from supporters. Once through the track heads uphill for about a kilometre before hugging the contours along Ullswater. The track then headed downhill for a bit until we hit CP1 Howtown – five minutes to grab a couple of bits of flapjack, re-fill the water bladder in my pack and add hydration tablets (I’d drunk 2 litres already), and dib in to register I’d got there.

Leg 2 – Howtown to Mardale Head  (distance 15.2km [9.4miles] – Ascent 765m [2510 feet])

Out of the Howtown checkpoint the track runs up a steep south facing valley, the heat was really starting to build by this point, there was no shade and no breeze. All along the way runners were stopping to either soak hats in streams to try and cool down, or in many cases just shoving their heads in. At the end of the valley the path gets even steeper and running is impossible – the heat was horrendous and walking was hard enough. After what seemed like an eternity I reached the summit at High Cop and could see the track dropping down to Haweswater. As the track levelled out we could start to jog again……… then run……… The path eventually drops down to the lakeside and levels off – the heat had built up again (we later found out it had hit 30 degrees at this point) and it became an exercise in heat management, I could only run for a few minutes at a time then had to walk and cool down for a bit, then run again. This kept up all along the lakeside until at the south end I saw the sign THIS. IS. SPARTA. that showed I was arriving at CP2 (CP2 was being looked after by Dalemain Spartans).

The checkpoint was well stocked with flat coke (this is nectar of the gods in that heat) and more flapjack. I took 5 minutes to cool off in the shade, re-filled my empty water carrier and headed off again.

Coming up the valley from CP1

Coming up the valley from CP1

Leg 3 – Maredale Head – Kentmere (distance 10.4km [6.5miles] – Ascent 511m [1677 feet])

The track out of Maredale heads straight up Gatesgarth Pass – this is another steep section and I had a chance to think about my pace. I’d made better time than I was expecting and it looked like I would make 15hours comfortably so long as I kept going. After the top of Gatesgarth there is a long downhill section, a bit steep in places and very stony so you definitely don’t want to fall here but it is runnable – the problem was that my shoulder and back were starting to ache. This is one of the problems with having to run with so much water, on the downhill sections your pack gets bounced around and you get shaken to bits. As the track continued the pain got worse and I had to stop and walk a couple of times, even when the track levelled off it still hurt – I readjusted the straps and that did improve things but it still wasn’t comfortable and my progress slowed as I headed in to Kentmere. The heat had reduced a little but the humidity was still high and this was continuing to sap energy levels.

The Kentmere CP is an important point on the 50 mile course as you’re past halfway when you get here and it’s a big morale boost – I’d got here in 6 hours, way sooner than I’d expected but there was still a long way to go and I was well and truly knackered. I fuelled up on flat coke and pasta (many people have described ultra-races as merely eating competitions) and re-filled the water carrier yet again. An attempt at using the loos here yielded no results – sorry if this is too much information but running these distances puts your digestive system under quite a lot of strain with all the shaking about and no-one wants to have to do a Paula Radcliffe if it can be avoided.

Leg 4 – Kentmere to Ambleside (distance 11.8km [7.3miles] – Ascent 491m [1611 feet])

Coming out of the CP I started running/walking with a chap I’d met on the Hardmoors 55 a couple of years ago. We got chatting about that race and the freezing temperatures/headwinds/blizzards we’d had to run through, we both agreed that we’d rather have freezing weather than the heat we were having today. We were also both experiencing difficulties taking in calories and suffering after effects from the last CP. My companion couldn’t stop belching (too much flat coke drunk too fast) and I couldn’t stop farting, he thought this was unfair as whilst I was gaining a small amount of forward thrust from this he was experiencing the opposite, none of this seemed to impress the couple of middle aged hikers we came across who seemed horrified by the noises we were making. We made our noisy way up the Garburn pass together and then parted company at the top, the track down to Troutbeck is a good section so I wanted to make as quick progress as I could. The ache in my back and shoulder had now become a sharp pain that was getting harder and harder to ignore but I knew I had to make the most of the good sections and could let this recover on the slower uphill parts. I got an unexpected boost when I saw Mark Willet at Troutbeck and that gave me some added impetus to push on into Ambleside. The town was packed as I ran through and got loads of cheers from folk in pub gardens along the main road – couldn’t resist hamming it up a bit and doing a Rocky running pose as I went through which seemed to go down well – lots of the people I passed were shouting encouragement, by this point in the race it really does give you a lift.

Gave myself 5 minutes to stop at the Ambleside CP, enough time for more coke and to grab a sandwich – which for reasons I can’t properly explain I waved at the cameraman waiting outside the CP – I think my head was starting to go by this point.

Leg 5 – Ambleside to Chapel Stile (distance 9.0km [5.6miles] – Ascent 234m [768 feet])

There was another chance to walk for a bit over the ridge to Skelwith Bridge before getting on the path up to Langdale. I was struggling more and more with downhill sections due to my back but then it started to rain and I started to cool off properly for the first time during the race. I decided to walk for a bit more and did a bit of a self diagnostic – wasn’t feeling great but not desperate either and that sandwich I took from the last CP was tasted blody awful – started jogging again through Langdale village and into the CP and Chapel Style. For the first time I didn’t need more water!

Leg 6 – Chapel Stile to Tilberthwaite (distance 10.6km [6.5miles] – Ascent 387m [1270 feet])

The light was starting to go as I jogged up the Langdale Valley – not dark enough to get the head torch out but seeing the path was getting harder. I was struggling and more worrying I also started to see things. This happens quite a lot to people doing 100 mile races due to the sleep deprivation but is less common for distances under 50 miles. I suppose it must have had something to do with the heat (or just being a bit soft) but suddenly all the sheep I was running past were wearing hats and looked very cross. I knew this was all in my head and it wasn’t scary but it was a very odd experience. I just had to try not to look at them – other objects seemed transformed to – a rock turned into a big black dog. The hallucinations stopped as I got over the pass at the end of the valley and jogged the last bit of flat track into Tilberthwaite.

Final leg – Tilberthwaite – Coniston (distance 5.7km [3.5miles] – Ascent 283m [928 feet])

Tilberthwaite is only 3.5 miles from the finish once you’ve got here you know you’ve effectively made it. There is a nasty final sting of a hill as the path climbs nearly a thousand feet but you know this is the last steep bit and that helps.

There’s a steep section coming down off the hill down into Coniston that with a clearer head on I might have slowed for and then a nice smooth bit of road where you can put the hammer down for the final mile into town. There were a few folk about as I went past the pubs and there were a few cheers – then the final left hand turn and as I had planned I made aeroplanes for the last 50 meters. Dibbed in to the final CP and it was over.

Race HQ – Recovery

Within 10 seconds of crossing the finish line my legs went. Some very nice marshals helped me get into race HQ. I was plonked down on a plastic chair while my timing chip was removed and a printout was made of my overall timings – the marshals were a little bit worried about me as so held me there for 20 minutes while I was force fed energy drinks and crisps and Harribo (the later two mixed together!?) – once may colour had returned they let me go and get some proper food. I had a look at my print out and couldn’t believe my eyes – 11 hours 40 minutes and 53 seconds! Well under target and 84th out of the 600 starters – I was absolutely over the moon.

Printout of race splits

Printout of race splits

All finishers are given pasta at race HQ – it can be hard forcing yourself to eat but it’s pretty important as everyone loses a few kilos during the run. I had an added difficulty to go with the loss of appetite as my hands were shaking pretty badly – my first spoonful of pasta was inadvertently flung over the woman sat to my right the shakes were so bad but I got the rest down without incident.

It turned out Scott was a little way behind me on the course, he’d had big problems with the heat near the start and had had to slow his pace a lot. (he finished in a very respectable 13 hours and ten minutes) and David did a sprint finish to get in under 15. It’s a tough run but I would encourage anyone thinking about trying an ultra to give this one a go, it really is very well organised and all the marshals/competitors are very friendly (plus at an entry fee of £70 on a cost per mile basis it’s a lot better value than the Great North Run!).

The following morning with t-shirts and medals

The following morning with t-shirts and medals

 August 5, 2014  Posted by at 7:50 pm Race Reports No Responses »