23rd September 2018
|421||Sarah Di Cesare||49:24|
Pictures of the event
22nd September 2018
No Results yet
5K Time Trial
19th Sept 2018
Thanks to those who helped out with the timing, recording of results and marshalling
St Thomas 7
16th Sept 2018
No Report yet
13th Sept 2018
Thanks to Ed, time keepers and marshalls.
The Thames Path Ultra Challenge 2018
(Putney Bridge Fulham to Henley on Thames)
Part 7 of 8 Ultras
8th & 9th September 2018
Race Report by Stuart Fowlie
Well for the seventh time this year I am stood on the start line of the last of the Ultra Challenge series events. Every single race has been a learning experience, and no two races have been the same. The Thames Path Ultra is going to be no different. Initially the talk is about how flat it’s going to be, but at the same time how harsh the towpath can be, on the plus side there is going to be some scenery? We will see.
Bright and early the first wave of runners was set off from Bishops Park to cross Putney Bridge to the south side of the river and start making our way out of London to Old Deer Park, first checkpoint of the day. On the southside of the Thames we followed the embankment and a very nice piece of tarmac it was which made for a good pace all round. We passed under Hammersmith and Chiswick bridge and were soon passing Kew Gardens. Old Deer Park came into view and it was a quick turnaround, with the first 14km’s completed, I somehow in my head I wanted to make this the best time yet, we will see.
Setting off I felt great another 14km’s and I would meet up with Gaynor, just passed Hampton Court (Hurst Park). Plan A was going well normal foot traffic was starting to increase on the towpath, boat clubs were starting to appear on the water. Somewhere between Ham and Kingston I seemed to get caught up in the local Saturday morning Parkrun! It appeared to be and out and back course, I met runners in both directions which didn’t help my rhythm, but having one’s name on the old t-shirt I seem to get plenty of encouragement and shout outs which helped.
Passing back on to the north side of the river we now started skirting around the edge of Hampton Court Palace, thankfully with it be still being early in the day we didn’t have to many tourists to avoid. Unfortunately, the footpath had now turned to lose uneven stone, “ouch”. Now having passed the Palace the route took us back to the south side with us heading into Hurst Park. Gaynor as always was there cheering me, hugs and kisses for the not so sweet-smelling runner. Then springing into action, what did I need. Strapping on feet checked, fresh talc and socks changed, the pitstops were just getting slicker.
I was soon back out, but now all the previous races were starting to show how much they had taken out of me. Thankfully muscle memory enabled me to put one foot in front of the other, eventually getting back up to an acceptable pace. The next stage was a short hop down to Walton on Thames and Shepperton’s local cricket club. The now famous Ultra Challenge pick and mix was there and up for grabs, scanned in I grabbed a Nitro coffee and a handful of jelly babies and from Gaynor, who in turn was helping other runners whose feet had started to suffer due to the underfoot conditions of the towpath.
As I set off for the halfway point, I was reminded not to keep somebody waiting. Joining back with the river, on the north side, missed that crossing somewhere, with destination Runnymede via Staines my target. I was now eager to make halfway by 3.30pm, left leg was complaining, but honestly it had been complaining from the start, anyway what’s a little pain. The promised scenery around Staines wasn’t helped with the passing under the M3 and M25 and the additional noise of the Heathrow take offs. However, it was great to see the Ultra Challenge volunteers out on a boat cheering along the runners, there are times when you can go for a few miles without seeing anyone and something like this just gives you a lift. Struggling out of Staines and back onto the southside things were looking up. I don’t know what came first the noise from the checkpoint, Dave P on the mic, or catching a glimpse of one of the Ultra Challenge flags. As always Dave P gave me a big shout out, with the Proclaimers and 500 miles booming out over the sound system. Hugs, smiles and kisses from Gaynor and I was official at halfway by 3.24pm with only 50km to go.
Refreshed and fuelled up I was sent on my way by Gaynor, destination Eton. It was now taking me nearly 2km’s to get the legs turning over at a good pace and the horrible surface of the towpath didn’t help. Passing through Old Windsor “one was” under the shadow of the Castle, photos taken one moved on. Struggling passed the early evening revellers in Eton I managed to find my way back onto the towpath and plodded on with dusk starting to fall.
At the 63km Checkpoint I was greeted by that big smile of Gaynor’s and several cups of sweet tea. Looking back, I spent a little too long here, I was tired, no knackered. But I managed to drag myself out of the chair headtorch now in position and headed back out there. This relatively flat course was taking it out of me.
Passing Eton Dorney, we entered the woods and my pace really dropped, whether this was in part down to avoiding tree roots staying out of the river or being completely knackered. I also started to miss spotting the kilometre markers and with this being the longest leg of the challenge that didn’t help. Passing under the M4 I started to get my bearings again, helped by the lights of Maidenhead coming into view. Crossing the river, I was asked by two people what were all the glow sticks about, was it a night walk? I explained the event and was greeted with looks of “your mad” and words of good luck.
Making my way-out of Maidenhead, I was again struggling, pace was poor, I couldn’t see anybody in front or behind, so I didn’t have that target to pull or push me along. Dragging myself along it was now very much mind over matter and entering the village of Cookham I started to hear a familiar sound. Then again, it’s amazing how sound travels, 20 minutes later and the 78km marker passed I entered the penultimate checkpoint. No Gaynor, exhausted I sat down, the energy tank was totally empty. The phone rang, I’ve just arrived came the voice, what do you need? My saviour…
Loaded up with Coke plenty of Nitro Coffee and chocolate, Gaynor sent me on my way, this time hanging onto the coat tails of two other runners. All three of us struggling in our own way, made our way along the river, crossing bridges that felt like mountains to very tired legs. 5km’s later and we were passing through Marlow and running straight across their local Polo field. It was only now that it started to dawn on me what my finish time could be. Maybe that’s why I initially quicken before the checkpoint.
Scanned in at 88km’s, I got in and did what I needed to do and got on my way. I again tagged on to two other runners using them as my pacers, it seemed to help. I was in pain with my left leg but it was only 12km’s to go and I was going to finish this. Somehow at 94km’s I started to pull away and could see two more runners up front. Gritting my teeth and fight through the discomfort I caught them at 95km and quickened again.
97km’s down I passed the official start point of the Henley regatta, so near yet so far. The lights never seem to get any closer, another kilometre covered it felt like 2. Then suddenly we were crossing the river for the last time and as we rounded the corner the most beautiful sight was visible “99km’s”. I mustered everything I had and made for that finish line. You would think I had learnt by now, with that finish line comes a wave of emotion, hugs, tears, smiles and cheers. The euphoria of completing something of this degree for the seventh time just takes over. Gaynor, I couldn’t have and don’t think I would have achieved or come so far, without your help and it still gets to me, to think about it. My pain will be short lived, but you have lived with yours for years.
952 runners, joggers and shufflers, set off on the Thames Path Ultra Challenge race of 2018 at Putney Bridge, 742 amazing people finished the full 100km distance in Henley on Thames. Overall a 78% finish rate. There are some strong people out there and age is clearly no barrier, nor indeed is gender.
The leading Male runner was Paul Nixon with a winning time of 8hrs 38mins 56secs, sadly not a course record. The leading Lady was Anna Troup in 9hrs 45mins 06secs.
Again, with a very precious 13-days of recovery time. I am very pleased coming home with a finishing time of 20hrs 14mins 55secs and placing 188th overall.
Charity update. So far, I have completed 454 miles across the 7 Ultra Challenge events in a total time of 165hrs 58mins 53secs. I will be back on that start line in 22 days, for the Long Mynd 50 on the 6/7 Oct, come what may I will complete my challenge of running 500 ultra miles.
8th September 2018
Report by Chris Elsley
The Staffordshire Moorlands was the location for one of last weekend’s key races on the local circuit as the Ipstones 5 took place.
On a challenging 5 mile course that provides plenty of ups and downs, North Derbyshire RC’s Martin Dawson took 1st place in a time of 27m 48s. Sophie Goodfellow of Newcastle was the leading lady in 32m 36s (21st overall).
Stafford Harriers’ runner Phil Hilsdon came home in 8th place in 30m 38s with team mate Justin Green a couple of minutes further back in 19th (32m 24s).
Spencer Holland also finished inside the top 50, coming home in 34m 57s to take 42nd place.
There were 147 finishers
Penkridge Pub Run x Pints
8th September 2018
A great event yesterday for the Harriers that braved the rain on the run to Penkridge to take part in a pub crawl. Here is the gang at the Moat House on a much needed pit stop on the way to Penkridge. Hopefully this will turn into a popular annual event for the Harriers!
The Dougie Mac Stoke 10K
2nd September 2018
Race Report by Dave Marsden
A cool, grey morning for this race which started at 9:00 am in Hanley Park. The course took us up to Hanley, down through Shelton to Stoke and up towards Fenton before turning back and up to Hanley Park for the finish.
Although they could have accommodated 2000 runners there were only 449 finishers.
Race winner Scott Minschal 34:48
First Lady Fiona Bradley 44:23
For Stafford Harriers:-
South Coast Ultra (Eastbourne to Arundel) Challenge 2018
Part 6 of 8 Ultras
Report by Stuart Fowlie
Well the dust has settled time to pen a few words. Unusually not to early a start 8am, apparently the residents of Eastbourne value their Saturday mornings and this was the earliest possible. Prompt as always, the gun went off and we were heading out of the town and making our way up on to the South Downs, yes that word up, it wouldn’t be a challenge event without it. The finish line for this event is the village of Arundel, where you might say? A little clue the castle that towers over the village, is now the new home of the newly wed Duke & Duchess of Sussex (Harry & Meghan).
Back to the race, two miles completed and I was eventually up on the Downs, blue sky and a gentle tail wind assisting progress. The local golfers were not to appreciative of so many runners using their public footpath and the odd “Four” could be heard as we continued to climb along the coastal path destination Beachy Head. Stopping briefly to taking in the views and capture a few snaps I soon got on my way over the rolling landscape, and making my way down to the first checkpoint at Birling gap sea level!
I made good time and it was in and out as quickly as possible, especially as the lovely ladies of Sussex the “Seven Sisters” were looming in front of us. Head down and 4km’s later I was coming down off the last of the sisters. I would like to say I owned them, but my left knee would say otherwise. It was now time to head inland and up the Cuckmere river to the village of Alfriston and the next rest stop. I seemed to make good time up the valley, that big yellow thing was back, but nothing like the temperatures experienced over the previous races. Livestock was negotiated and low flying geese avoided the checkpoint was in sight. As always, it’s a quick fumble for my race tag making sure I’m scanned into the checkpoint.
There she was my rock, Gaynor, big smiles and hugs, loads of handshakes from the event staff, we are officially now very much part of the Action Challenge family, aka team Fowlie, “The crazy gang”. Doing all seven events is, rarely attempted and achieved, so we are somewhat unique. I received the customary check over by Dr Gaynor, feet were holding up well, Nitro coffee consumed along with the customary Freddo’s. A little work took place on my left knee and Gaynor walked out of the checkpoint with me, sending me on my way to Southease.
Out of the village and back up on to the South Downs way, which amounted to a gradual climb for the next 5km’s with great views all around, thankfully the sun chose to hide behind the clouds which made the next 10km’s seem so much easier over the rolling downs. It was however all about watching your footing and avoiding the large loose lumps of flint amongst the chalk footpath. I managed to stay upright and the work done on my knee was enabling it to hold up. Arriving at the 35km’s checkpoint and for whatever reason I was concentrating on getting in and scanned that I ran passed Gaynor. A very quick turnaround ensued and I set off on the longest section of the race, 20km’s to Hove.
Climbing back up onto the Downs I received that phone call, where was I, on my way to Brighton I replied, okay see you in Hove click. Basically, get a wiggle and don’t keep me waiting. I was now slow and steady on the ups and making the most of the downs, when they came. 43km’s completed and at the top of Castle Hill, Brighton race course the finish of the London 2 Brighton race was just visible. Dropping down into the outskirts of Brighton I managed to grab a can of Coke and started weaving my way around the streets making my way to the seafront.
The 50km sign heralded the start of the long slog along Brighton seafront and it was a slog. There was a gentle head wind which felt like a gale. I was feeling tired and having to weave around the bank holiday foot traffic wasn’t helpful. The 5 kilometres to the halfway Checkpoint seemed to last forever and to pass the 55km sign post and still not actually see the checkpoint didn’t help. But I made it in to Hove Park just under 10hrs 30mins, time to rest, recharge and eat. Dave Payne the event announcer congratulated me on getting this far, but also reminded me that I still had 1 and a half races to go until I had completed all 7, thanks Dave. On reflection it had helped, sat in the tent eating what would go down and drink more Nitro Coffee and Monster drink, looking around, this was my sixth ultra and for some it was their first and there were some very tired looking bodies and I felt great?
Full of Caffeine and all the wrong E numbers I was now ready to set off. Having arrived at the halfway point ranked 106th, but choosing to make sure I was truly ready to proceed I slipped back in the rankings to 127th, so just after 8:15pm I was heading off into the dark confronted with the climb up to devil’s dyke. As planned I took it steady on all the uphill sections, I didn’t have to much choice, my left knee was still grumbling. But took the brakes off on anything that felt as if I was going downhill. The next checkpoint was soon visible plus there was the bonus of a local festival blasting out music to help pass some of the time coming down of the hills. Scanned into the checkpoint, it was starting to get cold and with no time to dwell I soon set off as Gaynor would be waiting for me at 81km’s somewhere between Washington and Findon?
As I made my way from hill top to hill top, I was slowly passing individuals and small groups of very tired looking people, I would check on them, as they would me. But in a competitive sort of way in the back of my mind I was also thought that’s another place clawed back. Yes, that extra 10, 20 minutes break was now paying off. Rounding Jury’s Ring in the distant valley one could just make out the white lights I had come to associate with a checkpoint. It also meant that I only had 18km’s to go once reached.
Coming into the checkpoint just after 1am, it was my turn to surprise Gaynor, still sat in the car, heater on full blast. “I’ll make the tea” I shouted, as I headed for the tent. Dry warm clothing on, water topped up, a little work done on the knee and I was ready to go, one more rest stop before the finish. Gaynor as always sent me on my way. Later I learnt that she set about help others out at the checkpoint, who were tired, struggling and in pain. Making sure they had hot drinks and food. This is the woman who got up at the same time as me, had been awake the same amount of time and was just as tired.
Looking back, it’s a weird thing in the night, you find yourself sitting in the checkpoints with your fellow competitors sometimes struggling to string a sentence together trying to eat because you know you need to but feeling sick at the same time, you don’t want to leave the chair but know you must otherwise you are wasting valuable time, staggering off into the night while trying to express your gratitude to the volunteers and those loved ones that have got you this far.
Enough of that, full of Caffeine I had managed to pull 14 places, with still a few more climbs to come. Running through the night seem to suit me. I can sense I’m going up hills, but because I can’t see them, they don’t hurt as much. As for the downs I seemed to be flying there as I continued to pass fellow competitors. At about 3.50am I reach the final checkpoint and I was back out moving 4. Skirt around Arundel park, dodging numerous tree roots over the last 7 km’s was so testing, give me hills I cried and they did, one last one. Thanks
You would think I had learnt by now, but with that finish line comes a wave of emotion, hugs, tears, cheers and the euphoria of completing something of this extent for the sixth time just takes over and when I think about what I have achieve so far, still gets me.
Down to the facts, 493 runners and joggers, more ladies than gents, set off on the South Coast Ultra Challenge race of 2018, 311 finished the full 100km distance. The leading Male was an Emlyn Hughes with a winning time of 10hrs 06mins 57secs. The leading Lady was a Louise Markham in 12hrs 49mins 50secs.
With the 13-days recovery from the Wye Valley Ultra and the previous 4 Ultras it has taken its toll. I am very pleased with this race coming home with a finishing time of 21hrs 24mins 06secs and placing 100th overall.
I will be back on that start line in 11 days, for the London Thames Path Ultra. I would also like to thank all of you who have sponsored me and help me reach and pass my target. For those who have not yet had chance to can find my justgiving page here:
Finally, Ultra-running restores your faith in humanity, real life heroes are made, all of us go from ordinary to extraordinary just by having the tenacity to stand on the start line and take that first step of many.
Wye Valley Runners 10 mile Road Race
Sunday 19th August
Race Report by Michael Dobson
With our camping skills refreshed at July’s Thunder Run Nicki and I set off for Hereford on Saturday 18th for our base for the weekend at Hereford Rowing Club just outside the city centre. To our relief the campsite was quiet and the facilities basic but more than comfortable. The club was also to be the HQ for the race so it could not have been more convenient. With the journey made there was time for a drive around the course which I was glad we did as it put the organisers description of an “undulating” course into perspective, my race plan was duly revised!
Race day came with a warm and humid day promised ahead. The race also incorporated the County 10 mile championship with local clubs well represented and we set off along a disused railway before working our way out into the rolling lanes around Breinton village. The course was one lap in a sort of figure of eight and the countryside reminded of South Staffs lanes around Brewood just a bit more up and a bit more down!
Using the information from my recce I set off conservatively and this bore fruit as after the first few miles when I was able to wind in quite a few runners who had gone off ahead. I was pleased with my own progress but by about mile 8 I could feel I was starting to flag so it was then a question of digging in until the end. With the last hill crested it was less than a mile to go finish and it was a relief to have an easier run into the finish which I reached in 72:12.
Nicki was at the end to greet me with a much needed drink of water and the encouragement that I must have done well in my age group as “there weren’t many who looked as old as you in front of you” – I know what she meant, I think?
With the lure of lunch in the city centre planned we stayed for the presentation and Nicki was proved right as I was announced first Vet 50 with a bottle of local cider as my reward with a finishing position of 21st.
The winner of the event was Cheltenham & County Harrier Marcus England in 56:39.
First Lady home was Caroline Warrington of Bromsgrove & Redditch AC in 71:17.
All in all a very nice weekend away at a friendly and well organised race.
Race The Train
19th August 2018
Race report by Graham Williams
Some nineteen Harrier’s families and friends travelled to Towyn for the 35th running of Race The Train. However due to injuries and illness only five Harriers ran.
The 14 mile race is an out and back course across fields, paths, farm yards and sheep tracks with several steep climbs and descents and streams. The last 10K makes up the 10K race. The main race starts at 2.05pm when the narrow gauge steam train sounds the whistle. The intention is for the runners to beat the train back to the station. The train pulls several carriages full of supporters who cheer and support the runners as they pass them. The runners wave at the passing train – we were seen several times which gives you a good boost! The weather was good for running with a light drizzle. Marshalls were plentiful and there were ample water stations.
The 10K race was run by Joe Rainsford from Heanor Running Club in 36.24; the first lady was Claire Fitzpatrick in a time of 44.20. Harrier’s times were:
Ann Coghlan 55.41
Dave Mantle 1.02.29
Jane Bisiker 1.05.46
Chris Roxof Avon Valley Runners won the main race in 1.28.47. The first lady was Alissa Ellis of Hailsham Harriers in 1.41.28. Harrier’s times were:
Ed Smith 2.40.09
Graham Williams 2.43.28
Other runners in the party were Richard Bisiker, his brother’s family Paul (who did the main race finishing behind Graham), Jan, Annie, Archie and Richard’s friend and supporter Garry.
Following an enjoyable communal meal on Saturday night, Sunday was spent on a crabbing contest won by Brenda at a local pier (joined by Rachel and Alan) and a mountain ramble. Many thanks to Jane for organising the activities and to all our valiant supporters Sue, Joan, John, Ian, Cieron, Chris, Jill and Julie.
19th August 2018
Report by Chris Elsley
Chris Skellern may have been the only Harrier to tackle the but she came home with the honour of winning the F55 category. Her time of 50m 15s gave her 122nd place overall in a race on by Matthew Orford of Lichfield 35m 0s while Nuneaton’s Polly Keen as first lady in 38m 9s.
Leek (Half) – 10 mile race
19th August 2018
Race Report by Peter Williams
It was on a damp Sunday morning that runners began to assemble at the Leek leisure centre being the HQ for the Leek 10 mile race. The race had to be revised at the last moment from a half marathon event due to the devastating effect of the fire on the Roaches. Over 100 acres had been destroyed in the preceding weeks and fire was prone to breaking out potentially requiring emergency services needing access making it unsafe for runners.
With a light drizzle and temperatures circa 17 deg. meant that running conditions were ideal. Although the course was quite hilly with 5 distinct hill sections giving over 800ft of elevation gained the views of the countryside were great. Although the Roaches themselves were shrouded in cloud it added to the drama of the day.
The winner was Arran Mcclosky of Knutsford Tri Club in 57:51 and first female home was Tracy Dean of Stoke City AC in 1:08:32. A tremendous run by both
Stafford Harriers had 6 runners; Phil Hilsdon, Jason Littlewood, Peter Williams, Debbie McDermott, Alan Jones and Caroline Nichol.
Phil undertook a very brave run finishing 4th in 1:02:32 an excellent time for such a demanding course. Our first female was Debbie McDermott in a very credible time of 1:28:53.
The event was very well organised despite the last minute changes there was ample parking in the area, live music, hot showers and good clean changing facilities.
Local volunteers even provided cakes and hot drinks for a modest sum which was to raise funds to improve facilities for children at the park.
The whole event was supported by warm and friendly officials, marshals, spectators and not least fellow runners
Dave Clark 5K
16th August 2018
Report by Chris Elsley
Adam Lightfoot was first of the Stafford Harrier contingent to complete the Dave Clark 5 last Thursday evening.
Fourteen members of the local club ran in the event which attracted 200 runners.
Adam Lightfoot finished 24th overall, just popping team mate Spencer Holland who came home in 27th Michael Dobson was another 10 secs further back in 32nd.
Race winner was Lee-J Watson (Newcastle Staffs AC) in 17m 20s with Anna Hollingworth the first day in 20m 21s.
Borth Beach 10K
12th August 2018
Report by Dave Marsden
Organised by Aberystwyth AC, I’d enjoyed this race last year and was pleased to be able to return. It starts on the beach at the south end of Borth and continues along the sands towards Ynyslas, near to Aberdovey. You feel it should be easy as it is flat but it isn’t. It’s an out and back course. You can see the distance markers but they seem to take a long time to get to. There are no climbs or downhill sections on which you can vary your pace or recover. There’s just the relentless, energy sapping wet sand. But it’s a different running experience and I enjoyed it.
1st male Daniel Watt Tonbridge 36:35
1st lady Caryl Davies Sarn Helen 42:35
53rd Dave Marsden 50:28 1st M60
Wye Valley Ultra (Chepstow to Hereford)
Challenge 2018 – Part 5 of 8 Ultras
11th August 2018
Race report by Stuart Fowlie
It was an early start for The Crazy Gang as team “Fowlie” as we have affectionately become known as. So, up at 4.30am out of the hotel and at registration for 6am just outside Chepstow. Race briefing providing a few cautionary notes about cliff edges, steep embankments, the customary livestock warnings and a few weather warnings.
7am was soon upon us and I was off on my next 100km challenge, straight up a hill! Offa’s Dyke was the first target of the day and the Devils Pulpit. All I can say was the view from the top was fantastic, looking out over Tintern Abbey, with Pen Y Fan in the distance a target for later. With the first 11km’s covered and 1100 feet climbed it was a quickly into the first checkpoint and out and back up and over Offa’s Dyke to descend 750 feet straight down to the river Wye, crossing for the first time with many more to come over the next 20 plus hours. The route took us north along the river bank, destination Monmouth Show ground and my first check in with the crazy gang.
24km done and there they were, cups of tea at the ready, water re-stocked a few Freddo’s in my pocket and I was given a further weather update that rain wasn’t due until night fall, taken with a pinch of salt. I would also like to thank the RAF for the fly past of the Red Arrows. How they managed to coincide it with me leaving the checkpoint and also timing turning smoke on was most appreciated, Cheers Robby.
Making my way out of Monmouth and picking up the old disused railway line, thank you Dr Beeching the route closely followed the rivers meandering path towards Symonds Yat and the home of British canoeing. It was here I had my first wobble of the day, as we left the river behind to climb up and over Huntsham Hill home of the Peregrine Falcon, my left leg decided it wasn’t happy with going up hills and complained more about going down them. Teeth gritted I managed to keep going forward knowing I had just 3 km’s to go to the next checkpoint where I could give myself a good talking to. Those 3km’s seemed to drag and what made it worse was seeing fellow runners on the other side of the river bank heading in the opposite direction, never good.
Checkpoint in sight I shuffled in, my progress having slowed, I grabbed several cups of coke and a good handful of the pick & mix. Re-stocked with water getting myself ready for the longest leg of the event 20kms, where I was expecting to see wife and daughter. But as always, they surprised me by appearing, with a few words of encouragement received and head down I set off picking my speed up again. Left leg wasn’t completely happy but I put that down to the lack of recovery and rest time between events and it wasn’t hindering me too much.
This stretch of the river was very Wind in the Willows type of terrain with views of the cliffs and the river banks, plenty of wild life and views of the cliffs where the Peregrines once nested. There were day trips on the river all heading down stream. As I left the river behind one more time to climb up and over Welsh Bicknor the first of the rain that wasn’t due, started to fall mid-afternoon. It was warm so I chose not to suit up, plus I knew I was going to put a complete set of dry clothes on at the 55km checkpoint and it would help wash some of the smell of being a runner away.
As I re-joined the river, I literally was now hugging the river bank with event warning signs “Caution Cliff Edge” it made for interesting times plus with more and more of us passing through we would churn up the mud even more. I survived this test, only to end up on my backside, sliding on a very green and greasy bridge. Lying there I just gazed up at the sky. Embarrassment to one side I was luck, having plenty of additional padding helped. On reflection that could have been my challenge over. Back on dry land and now totally soaked to the skin, I gingerly made my way into the half way checkpoint just before 6pm.
75 minutes later and I was setting off again, it had stopped raining, sort of. I had managed to consume some soup, a large pot of custard and a can of Monster, sugar rush. Gaynor had reapplied tape and dressings to the old feet and Fowlie junior put enough talc in my shoes to sort of dry them out. Next checkpoint was just 7km’s away, but for whatever reason I struggled to get a good pace going but at the same time managed to arrive in a good. Another quick in and out of the checkpoint and off to the next as this would be the last time of seeing the girls (Team Fowlie) before the finish line.
The rain was soon to return and I found myself out on my own, headtorch now showing me the way with eyes peeled for way markers kilometre markers. Thankfully I just about spotted the 69km sign, a few didn’t. Then there was the Indiana Jones bridge of doom as it got affectionately called, just before 70km’s. The bridge itself went in every possible direction as you attempted to cross it and the noises it made were enough to make anyone question it. Over the next kilometre I was dive bombed by bats all attracted to the light of the headtorch. Progress over this sixth leg had been good, but I was starting to feel tired and the rain was now heavy. As I approached the checkpoint all were sheltering in the main tent. Team Fowlie was there as always to cheer me in, tea and a dry shirt, along with an attempt at eating something, which failed, more Coke seemed to be the solution.
Sort of dry, I set off teaming up with a chap called John, as we crossed the river again, three very lost looking soles appeared coming the other way, they had missed the 69km marker and had managed to add a few more kilometres on for good measure. For the next 10 kilometres we seemed to do nothing other than go up hill, was it the power of darkness. But now looking at the profile of the race we were not far wrong. My left leg also started to complain again, put it to the back of my mind, it was now all about finishing and getting a good time. Under 24 hours was do able, it was very do able. The next checkpoint was just over 10km’s from the finish, so as some civilisation started to appear I pushed on a bit harder, where was that village hall?
Into the village hall of Hampton Bishop I stumbled, team Fowlie was there, holding emotions back it was hugs all round. They had done it again, surprised me and to make sure all was well. They had brought fresh everything, except legs. A full clothing change took place loads of talc on the feet as a little trench foot had started to set in, fresh shoes, plenty of hot tea and some more Freddo’s.
I swear they shoved me out of that village hall, with a don’t be late or else, I seemed to come to life. The outskirts of Hereford were reached, numerous lefts and rights were taken come on one more bridge to cross, way marker straight on, is it the next bridge? Yep off the river at last, heading to the race course. I was clock watching now, sub 24hrs was in the bag, but could it be sub 23hrs. A bit more jogging started to happen, it wasn’t the quickest kilometre but it was up there.
With just over a minute to spare I crossed that finish line. A very quiet finish line, with the rain pouring down medal hung around my neck I made my way up to the grandstand beaming that I had managed a time of 22hrs 58mins 42secs getting myself into the top 100, placing 90th overall.
A few facts and figures, Water consumed 8 litres, Coke 2 litres, gates passed through 92, stiles crossed 37, numerous cups of tea, river crossings and Freddo’s consumed, lost count.
399 runners and joggers set off on this the first running of the Wye Valley Ultra Challenge race, 229 finished the 100km distance. The leading Male was David O’Brien in a winning time 10hrs 52mins 46secs. The leading Lady was Sian Davies in 12hrs 55mins 42secs.
I am now trying to rest and recover to do it all again on the South Coast in 10 days’ time, starting on Saturday 25 August. Looking forward already to going over Beachy Head the Seven Sisters before passing through Brighton and on to finish in Arundel.
My new Mantra is “Slow runners make the faster ones look good”
5th August 2018
Report by Chris Elsley
Michael Dobson took the honour of being the first Harrier home in the recent Trentham 10k event.
The race is run on an undulating course around the lanes near Tittensor and besides the hills, more than 300 runners had to tackle the hot temperatures of the 2018 summer.
The race was won by Nick Jones of Warrington AC in 34m 10secs with Kelly Edwards of Leamington Cycling and Athletics Club taking the ladies prize (35th – 39m 55 secs) by 3 seconds from Vale Royal’s Elizabeth Renondeau.
Staffs Moorlands AC Summer Series Race 8
Leek Cricket Club – The Ascent of Gun 5 Miles.
2nd August 2018
Race Report Dave Marsden
So to the final race of the series on another very warm evening. For those of us who had completed at least 6 of the 8 races there was a commemorative T-shirt. As I had completed 6 races, I estimated the shirt had cost me nearly £50 not to mention the blood, sweat and tears in each of those events. But seriously, it has been another enjoyable and well organised series of races.
We started this run in fields above the cricket ground then onto the road before turning up paths and tracks up towards Gun Hill. This was a long, tough climb especially in the warm temperature. Then the descent towards Tittesworth reservoir before turning onto the farm track where the Meerbrook 15K starts. From this we climbed again over a hill and down to Abbey Green for the final climb to the fields taking us back to the finish on the cricket ground. For me, this was the toughest, most draining race of the series. I was exhausted on finishing.
1st male Jack Ross SMAC 32:28
1st lady Deborah Thomas Trentham AC 38:29
89th Dave Marsden 45:35. Overall series ranking 3rd M60
Staffs Knot 5
25th July 2018
Race report by Chris Elsley
Tipton Harriers runner Lynne Hill picked up a £100 bonus prize after breaking the course record at last Wednesday’s Staffs Knot 5 Miler which took place at Marquis Drive on Cannock Chase.
Lynne beat the previous record by more than two minutes to become the first lady home but the men’s course record remains intact meaning a £200 prize will be up for grabs in next years‘ event.
The race, which is organised by Stafford Harriers, attracted a field of more than 417 runners with around another 52 taking part in the shorter fun run.
Winner of the men’s race was Felix McGrath of Newcastle AC (Staffs) in a time of 27m 0 secs – a comfortable 23 secs ahead of Carl Moulton (Boalloy) who finished 2nd.
First home for the host club was George Hodkinson (17th – 30m 56s) who just pipped teammate Phil Hilsdon (31m 5s) to the finish line. Justin Green was 28th in 32m 14s.
Fun Run Results
Junior Harrier Matthew Hilsdon finished 2nd in the Fun Run in a time of 13m 17s, some 39 seconds after race winner Lewis Atherton.
Not far behind were fellow Harriers Ben Green (7th – 14m 45s), Isla Fraser (8th – 14m 59s) and Jack Heath (9th – 15m 49s) who all finished in the top 10.
Also turning out for the Harriers were Maya Davies-Fuller (11th – 16m 20s), Harry Beckett (13th – 16m 26s) and Molly Key (20th – 17m 48s).
“Note of Thanks”
Well, after all the hard work & planning, it finally came & went off without any Hiccups !
This year’s Staffs Knot with the 2nd running on the new course seemed to work as intended and we hope that everybody involved enjoyed themselves.
All at Stafford Harriers would like to say a big thank you to all helpers & volunteers for all of the hard work in making this year a big success !
We couldn’t have done it without all those who Marshalled on the night, helpers in the day during the set-up & at night after for the take down.
A special thanks goes to all Runners from far and wide for supporting the event and entering into the spirit of this competitive & fun family event.
I’d also like to thank all of the spectators for supporting & for all of the kind comments and feedback we have received.
Finally, we would like to thank the Forestry Commission & Staffs County Council for allowing us to host the event and to all of our sponsors for supporting us.
Namely, Towergate, Audi, Alan Chatfield, & DHL.
& Finally a big thanks to our on-line entry, chip timing and event public address partners – JCRace Solutions Ltd (www.JCRSolutions.co.uk)
who also sponsored the course record prizes.
We look forward to seeing you all again next year & please tell all your running club friends & connections to join us too !
Thanks you all
SK5 Race Director
Some photos of the Marshalls
With so many photos of the runners, here are some alternative photos from facebook by Stephen Lee
Photos of Runners
Here are some of the Harriers running the event. Photos from facebook by Stephen Lee
Jurassic Coast (Poole to Bridport) Challenge 2018
Part 4 of 8 Ultras
21st & 22nd July 2018
Report by Stuart Fowlie
Well the dream of the Ultra Grand Slam is still alive. Having just completed the Jurassic Coast ultra over the weekend 21/22 July, 400km’s plus completed, in old money 266 miles with a total of 26,276 feet climbed just short of climbing Ben Nevis 6 times.
I was feeling quite broken Sunday but started moving less duck like as the day went on and with more clarity. My thoughts now turning to the 10th of August and the Wye Valley 100 with preparations underway & using lessons learned so far from the first 4 events, whilst relaxing with my feet in the sea sat enjoying the view just outside Bridport I have penned the following about the Jurassic Coast Ultra.
I must admit I have done Ultras before but never back to back in such a way. It is indeed all a big learning curve with each race being different and if I’m honest I’m still pinching myself that having passed the age of 55, I am still competing at this kind of distance. With that, this kind of distance should never be taken for granted, it’s a heck of a long way on foot, that requires physical fitness, strong mental toughness, absolutely nothing is a given, there is no guarantee of finishing, which I guess is the appeal for me & my fellow starters.
The Jurassic Coast race saw me start at 6.30am in Poole following the route out of the town down to the Coastline at 5kms and then to catch the Sandbanks ferry across the harbour, all of 4 minutes to enable us to be on our way along the Dorset coastline. Ferry disembarked along the sand we all trudged, cutting through the nudist beach, a little early for Naturists making our way down to Studland where we left the beach behind and started the first of the climbs. Swanage our first checkpoint of the day was reached in what felt like a good time and greeted by the Crazy Gang, Gaynor had a little helper with her this trip, Little Owen. I was fussed over, water restocked, snacks taken onboard hat soaked in cold water and sent on my way. The sun was bearing down on all and there was no shade to be had. The climb up to the ridge seem endless but the view from the top was fantastic with Corfe Castle the next check point at 24 Km visible in the distance. The trip in to the check point saw runners heading back out the same way all starting on the longest leg of the race 18km’s !
Again, I was greeted by my support team, a further 2 litres of water were restocked, along with fresh clothing as I was just soaking. Feet were good, Gaynor added some extra padding to the left foot and sent me on my way in to what was going to be a leg that would claim many runners and see many not finish. As we started climbing again, I was starting to struggle having only had a few weeks rest since the Cotswold Way Ultra and the 7930 feet of climbing I had done there was still in my legs. It was at 32 km’s we entered the back of the Army Tank Ranges and hugged the cliff tops closely, with Lulworth Castle visible in land. At 35 km’s we started making our way down to the beach and it was only then did we see what was waiting for us. The climb was at least 1 in 2 and there were runners scattered from the top to the bottom. As I set off, I could just do my best. I found myself on my hands and knees several times and it was enough to make a grown man cry. As I eventually crested the top we only had a few metres before we were faced with a straight down drop. All that effort getting up there, to then come straight back down it was heart breaking. Legs now really struggling, energy levels on fumes, I don’t know how I kept going but eventually reach Lulworth Cove and a beach of pebbles at 39 km’s, hell would have been kinder.
Stepping on to the beach of pebbles and dodging the sun worshippers I gradually and slowly made my way round the cove legs like jelly. 500 meters later I stepped onto the slip way. Totally out on my feet I search for somewhere where there wasn’t a queue for drinks or ice cream. I resorted to a tea shop selling Kids sugar filled Slushies. Consuming a rather large red thing, I started to recover. Many minutes later I started walking across the car park trying to find my way to the next check point a mere 2 km’s way but felt like a life time. Thank fully the slope up to the 42 km Checkpoint at Durdle Door was more kind to us. Exhausted and apologising to my Support Team for being late, they set about restocking me and checking me over, I do not know what I would have done without them? The sun had really taken its toll on me.
After recovering? and feeling a tad better, I set off to what was billed as the halfway mark at 57.5 km’s and Lodmoor Park on the northern edge of Weymouth. As always having gone up, I set off back down the hill making my way through all the holiday makers making their way back up from the beach knowing there was another 3 more severe climbs to come I dug in. On the positive the views along the Dorset Coast were just stunning regardless of how tired I was, the famous Durdle Door Dog being one not to miss.
I don’t recall going passed the 50km marker, but then again whole stage was a bit auto pilot, head down keep going kind of thing, I do remember thinking about the Stafford harriers, a cracking group of running friends taking part in this year’s Thunder Run and hoping all was going well for them. Reprieve at last Weymouth came into view with dusk starting to close in. Also, my thoughts were slightly negative at this point, not so much about retiring, but should I stop and get some well need rest or sleep, I was slowing badly. I needed a good talking to from Gaynor.
As always Gaynor was there to greet me, big smiles and words of encouragement, we chatted, feet were checked over and dressed. A complete change of running kit was in order along with hot food. At 11pm I decided to push on and take things stage by stage, promising to keep in touch with my support team.
As darkness had fallen we were sent out in groups, to naturally fall into groups of our own pace. Somehow, I ended up chatting to a chap from the commando group based along at Barnstaple and we naturally dragged each other along. So, as we dodged our way around Weymouth and the merry holiday makers things seemed to improve. Going up steps was painful but manageable. Chesil Beach was now in front of us and we just seemed to breeze into the next checkpoint without realising it.
It was a very quick turnaround at the 66 km checkpoint, as we didn’t want to lose any momentum, so we set off on the next stage feeling very positive. We were now hugging the coast with a warm breeze on our backs. We passed through more gates and cross more stiles than I can care to remember and with each incline came a slowing in the pace but we attacked them and ploughed on. Gaynor later told me it was a fantastic sight to see us all with our headtorches after headtorch coming over the hill in a long line as we headed down to the Swannery checkpoint at 82 km. Here a little attention was needed to my feet as a couple of hot spots had developed and with only 18 km’s to go, I wanted to make sure I finished.
Feet patched, I now had the pleasure of the shingle beach in front of me and at the 86 km point I found myself trying to stay upright and moving forward on this wonderful stuff. 4 km’s later and a lot of energy expended I was back on dry land. Making our way slightly inland to the final check point I now knew I had this, just the Broadchurch Cliffs (so nick named, some TV programme was filmed here) to get over, my time was not going to be pretty but I was determined this course was not going to beat me.
With that, I literally walked in to the checkpoint was scanned and walked straight out again with just over 5 km’s to go. Crossing through a few campsites I found myself at the base of the cliffs up and over, it wasn’t graceful but it was effective and down into West Bay. I was on the home stretch into Bridport, I even managed a jog of sorts. Words of encouragement came from the local holiday makers which just seemed to spur me on. Finally, the finish line was in sight with the voice on the mic calling out my name, emotions once again got the better of me. I can honestly say the Jurassic Coast Ultra nearly beat me, but having a wonderful support crew pulled me through.
A few figures:
There were 970 starters, with 622 finishing the 100km distance. The leading Male was Sean Mckenna in a winning time 11hrs 16mins 11secs. The leading Lady was Hannah Haverlock-Allen in 13hrs 00mins 11secs. So as I said my finish time was not pretty, I managed to place 253rd with a time of 26hrs 26mins 21secs.
Staffs Moorlands AC Summer Series Race 7
Oakamoor 5 miles.
19th July 2018
Race report by Dave Marsden
Another warm summer evening and to Oakamoor in the Churnet Valley for the penultimate race in this summer series. We started on the sports ground and did a large loop of the field before heading out for a short stretch along country lanes. Then we turned on to tracks and up into the woods above Dimmings Dale before descending back into the valley and back to the sports ground, along the Churnet Way. There had been a fire in part of the woodland, the scorched and blackened ground a casualty of the long, dry summer.
1st male Jack Ross SMAC 28:23
1st lady Leah Whiston Newcastle AC 32:25
Dave Marsden 75th 38:49
Vic Musgrove 5K
Wednesday 18th July 2018
Report by Michael Dobson
A warm evening on Wednesday 18th July brought the Vic Musgrove 5K, the fifth race in the Telford Athletic Club Sexarathon series. Starting from Telford Rugby Club the race was run over the paths of the Town Park and finished two laps at the amphitheatre alongside Randlay Pool.
On a course promising a fast time the field was keen to get a good start and the leaders charged away chased by the rest of us. From the off it was clear I should have started a bit further forward and it was a challenge at first to find clear space to make progress but by the end of the first kilometre or so enough gaps started to appear to get settled in to enjoy the rest of the race.
There were a total of 412 finishers and athletes from Tipton Harriers took the first five places with Tom Bains the overall winner coming in at 14:51. First lady home was Sarah Benson from Cambuslang Harriers at 17:54. The fast reputation of the race was maintained with the first 100 finishers breaking 20 minutes.
Four Harriers competed in the race and recorded the following times.
Michael Dobson 20:32
Ben Deakin 23:25
Mark Deakin 23:41
Mel Deakin 24:51
The last race in the series is the Harper Scarper 5km on Wednesday 5th Sept.
5k Time Trial
18th July 2018
Report by Mark Oliver
Thanks to those who helped out with the timing, recording of results and marshalling
Report by Chris Elsley
Despite the summer heat, Stafford Harriers’ members have been busy taking on the challenges of a variety of races in recent days.
Ashbourne Half Marathon
8th July 2018
19 year old Beth Darke took part in her first ever half marathon and rather than chose a nice flat course, she entered the Ashbourne Half Marathon. This is a notoriously testing route with plenty of ups and downs. The race starts east of the town with a steady climb for about a mile before levelling out for the next. Runners then tackle the Dales passing through the village of Thorpe and descend into the Valley of Ilam and then a climb to Blood Pastures. The last part of the race is through Okeover Park before runners make their way to finish in the historic town of Ashbourne.
Beth came 92nd out of 189 finishers in a time of 2h 02m 26 secs and, although disappointed not to break the 2 hour barrier, she was pleased to finish ahead of father Michael who was three minutes further behind.
Thursday 12th July 2018
The JCB5 at Rocester was once again a well attended race with 27 Harriers among the field of 193 runners. The course consists of two laps around the outside of the JCB factory
Phil Hilsdon lead the Harriers home with 4th place overall in a time of 30m 15s, with Justin Green also making the top 10, finishing 9th in a time of 32:03.
Just a couple of places further down was George Hodkinson (32:49) while Ian Heath (14th – 33:40), Paul Higginson (19th – 33:58) and Jake Oliver (20th – 34:00) all made the top 20.
It was a night when the Harriers featured strongly and other finishers were:
Liam Duggan – 23rd – 34:19
Spencer Holland – 25th – 34:33
Ian Hodkinson – 26th – 34:34
Nia Nokes – 33rd – 36:06 (3rd lady overall)
Jason Littlewood – 35th – 36:45
Ian Wood – 36th – 36:48
Dean Hibbit – 41st – 37:17
Simon Bromley – 52nd – 38:27
Chris Skellern – 62nd – 39:07
Alan Jones – 72nd – 40:04
Steve Turner – 93rd – 41:08
Peter Williams – 95th – 41:17
Ben Deakin – 96th – 41:30
Richard Booth – 98th – 42:02
Mel Deakin – 109th – 42:49
Caroline Nichol – 110th – 43:03
Graham Williams – 135th – 45:21
Karen Murray – 154th – 46:40
Liz Shillito – 175th – 50:08
Julie Nokes – 176th – 50:46
Stephen Farrant – 182nd – 53:15
The race was won by Mark Dalkins of Cheadle RC in 28:41 with Jenny Dalkins making it a double success by taking the ladies race in 34:13
The shorter 2 mile event is mainly competed for by junior athletes and the Harriers were again on form taking 3 of the top 5 places.
Jack Heath was second home in 13m 22s followed by Murphy Hamilton (4th – 13:47) and Matthew Hilsdon (5th – 13:50).
Other Harriers included Ben Green (9th – 15:21), Shauna Hamilton (17th – 17:32), Harley Farrant (19th – 18:18), Jess Farrant (22nd – 18:24) and Keeley Hamilton (36th – 22:37).
Stoke on Trent Festival of Running
Sunday 15th July 2018
Wendy Sears ran in the 5k event on Sunday, finishing 40th in a time of 28:46.
14th July 2018
Report by Mark Oliver
Here are the Harrier Games Results from Saturday afternoon, held at Rowley Park. Well done to all who took part on what turned out to be another fantastic and fun event and then afterwards at the Cricket Club, in what turned out to be glorious weather. A big thank you to all who helped out and made it happen – especially to Ian Hodkinson for organising the event
|2018||Number||1 mile||PO||100M||PO||800 m||PO||200m||PO||400m||PO||3000M||PO||TOTAL||PLACE||MEDAL|
|Jamie Lee Taylor||97||0||14.78||1||0||31.63||1||0||16.26||2||4||1||G|
JCB 5 Mile
12th July 2018
Staffs Moorlands AC Summer Series Race 6
Biddulph Grange Country Park 4 miles.
12th July 2018
Report by Dave Marsden
A 2-lap race which starts by the visitor centre, climbs alongside a stream through woodland before levelling off and a welcome descent. I mistakenly assumed this would return us to the visitor centre to start the second lap but they turned us back up another stiff little climb. After this we did descend through the woods, round a pool and then out on to open fields to the turning point for the second lap.
It was dry, dusty and the uneven ground was hard and unyielding. Although only 4 miles I felt this race was the hardest of the series so far. This may be due to a combination of the temperature, the humidity and the climbing.
1st Felix McGrath Newcastle AC 24:11
1st lady Leah Whiston Newcastle AC 28:54
Dave Marsden 100th 36:35
Black Country Half
7th July 2018
The times say it all…. the hottest day of the year and it looks like it was a battle to finish. Well done.
Results so far
Staffs Moorlands AC 8-Race Summer Series
Race 5 Rudyard Lake 5 Miles.
5th July 2018
Report by Dave Marsden
As this glorious summer continues, another hot and sunny evening for this event. The race starts on the track on the east side of the lake at the lower end, adjacent to the dam. The Rudyard railway runs alongside the track. We ran for 2 miles, passing the end of the water before turning back to the top of lake and then up into the trees and the track back down the west side, finishing on the dam. If we were hot, spare thought for Jonathan Whilock of Staffs Moorlands AC who stood at the entrance to Cliffe Park Hall playing his bagpipes in full Highland dress as we ran/staggered passed. The actual distance was 4.7 miles. Another excellent event organised by the Moorlands club.
1st male Jack Ross SMAC 27:16
1st lady Leah Whiston Newcastle AC 31:12
Dave Marsden 91st 36:34
Sunday 1st July 2018
Report by Mel Deakin
Back to Newmarket for Ben and I to meet up with my sister and a few other runners for the Newmarket 10k. Last year Ben won the Sean Harper cup here for winning the U21 age group, so we were back to return the cup and compete in the race again. We arrived in blisteringly hot weather and to clear blue skies. This was going to be tough! The first part of the course is on road, a few ups and downs then a section on a bridle path. No issues here last year, but this time the path was so dry heaps of orange dust was being thrown into the air and I was glad to get through that bit and back onto road. It wasn’t long before we hit the last downhill then the long drag, about 3k uphill to the finish. Not surprisingly due to the conditions on the day and our fitness levels Ben and I both ran slower this year than last which is what we expected. However, this year I was 3rd in my age group whereas last year I was 4th. Ben again won his age group and retained the cup which we get to keep for another year. I guess there is a lesson in there, you can only beat those that turn up on the day and run. We hope to be back in 2019.
1st Michael Gilbert Haverhill RC 36:15
1st female Kelly Mepham Haverhill RC 41:36
117th Melonie Deakin 55:03
121st Ben Deakin 55:20
Cotswold Way (Bath to Cheltenham) Challenge 2018
Part 3 of 8 Ultras
30th June / 1st July
Report by Stuart Fowlie
5 weeks has passed since I left Brighton Race Course, having completed my second 100km jolly. I feel I have recovered, the feet have just about healed, still minus toe nails, but they will be back.
Team Fowlie, having arrived at the start area early doors, Dr Gaynor set about strapping my feet up for what was to come. We then started bumping into the running family, yes there is more than one nutter doing more than one of these 7 Ultra Challenge races. Not sure how many are attempting all 7 but there is bound to be more than just me, isn’t there?
So, stood on the start line in Bath taking in the view of the Royal Crescent, it was Selfie time. The gossip amongst the group is about what lays ahead. Everyone agreed that this is going to be the toughest of all the 100 kilometres, in the Ultra Challenge series, with just a mere 7500 feet of climbing. But as they say, whatever goes up must come down, I hope.
7am on the dot and were off making our way to the first check point Bath Race Course situated high up on the road into the city. Ouch that first 10km’s hurt, but I managed to maintain a steady pace and got up the first of the 9 severe climbs. Grabbing a couple of bananas, I quickly got on my way, keeping in touch with a group of six other runners all going at a nice steady pace.
The next few kilometres found us cutting across fields dodgy deer or were the deer dodging us. All making good time, especially as the sun was yet to show its face. We next were dodging traffic but there was no sympathy shown to any of us runners by the drivers. Then came the second of those 9 climbs as we skirted round Dyrham Park. At this point I started to lose touch with the group of 6 plus that big yellow monster also started to make an appearance, stick to Plan A Stuart I told myself. The temperature soon rocketed to the high 20’s in minutes. Having reach the crest of the hill, I suddenly realised how high we had climbed, the view out across the countryside was fantastic, with the Severn Bridge crossing very visible, plus it was a good opportunity to catch one’s breath or two. Pushing on I reach the second check point to be greeted by Dr Gaynor. Instructed to sit in her Matron like voice, feet were checked over fresh strapping applied and only then was I allowed to exit, along with another 2 litres of water having already consumed 2ltrs.
Where next, a quick glance at the route map, Petty France skirting round the Badminton Horse trails event area. Feeling good, I push on but what I forgot to consider was the two steep climbs either side of Little Sodbury and they were Sod’s. It was heading up the second climb at about 35km I had a little panic. With the heat of the sun I couldn’t tell if I was still sweating or not. Stopping and taking the shade, I took more fluids on and thankfully no sooner did it go in than it was coming out. I began to relax and continued very mindful of that big yellow monster. Check point in sight in I clocked in, greeted as always by my biggest supporter. Whilst sorting one’s self out, cans of ice cold coke start appearing and they felt like life savers. Refreshed and fed plus full of sugar they tried to ban I was on route to the half way mark. The next 10km’s seem to fly by passing through small villages, finally arriving at Wotton Under Edge sports centre half way.
Brilliant we were still on Plan A. With the stop came a complete change of kit, large pieces of carrot cake, plus mugs of tea and yet more tape and padding applied to the feet. Thank you, Dr Gaynor. I was now ready for the next 50km, Coaley Peak here I come.
No sooner had I left the halfway check point and we were climbing, it was one of three steep climbs I would face over the next 15kms. But this first one gave us one of the most impressive views of all. Stood at the foot of the William Tyndale Monument, looking out over to Wales with both Severn bridges in clear view. But with little time to waste I made good time on the down hills and found myself in Dursley. Unfortunately, I had my second wobble of the race, running by some of the local fast food stores. The cooked food smell turned my stomach, and just after 58kms I had to stop. I do not know how I wasn’t sick but I managed to control things. Passing runners checked on me, it is just something we do. With things back under control I fought on and rather than stop and dig out my head torch I blindly bumbled on through the twilight arriving slightly later than expected at the next check point 64.5kms completed.
Darkness had now fallen, runners and walkers alike were grouped together and we set headtorches showing the way through the trees dodging tree roots, falling over styles, avoiding livestock. Talk amongst the group was just about the next climb and how it came not far from the next check point. So, as we came out of the woods and into the village of Selsey we rounded a few bends and at 71kms that climb began. Dig deep Stuart was my mantra. Up we went and up again, it felt like a stage of the tour de France never knowing when you would reach the top as you went around bend after bend. The 75km marker came into view and then suddenly things flatten out, the village sign of Painswick was illuminated by my headtorch. Very apt as my right foot was starting to get painful.
Deciding to take things steady I slowed and made my way to the check point quickly grabbing a coffee and siting down so Gaynor could check me over and change my dressings. Sat around I started to feel the cold, it was after all 3.30am and I had been going over 20 hours by now, maybe a little tired. Jelly baby’s restocked a can of Monster consumed I looked to push on just 20kms to go just less than a Half Marathon we can do this. 13km to the next check point and then the 7km run in to Cheltenham. One last check over by Gaynor, because I wouldn’t see her again until the finish line and I set off.
Dawn broke not sure exactly when as I spent most of the next 13km under the trees, but the sun was up early this fine Sunday morning. Birdlip was the destination and somehow, I was still jogging it looked as if “Plan A” had worked. As I was scanned at the final check point I was informed I was placed 191th, I had managed to move up 10 places in 13kms. Quickly drinking a bottle of flat Coke I set off, I knew this next 7kms. Again, I was still jogging I seemed to fly down to the outskirts of Cheltenham, passing other competitors, that competitive streak was coming out. Down back alleyways cross roads, through Harterley Park, a few more overtakes. A quick morning over the shoulder as I jogged on, then the music at the finish line could be heard. With a tear in the eye I round the last corner to be greeted by the 100km marker and there was the finish line. Yes, massive hugs and cheers from Gaynor we had done it 300kms in the bag.
My body had held up, my stomach not so good, fortunately the old feet have taken another pounding, but thanks to Gaynor I am blister free. My results put me firmly in the middle of the pack.
My official finish time was 25hrs 14mins 51secs placing 172nd out of the 425 runners that finished from a starting line-up of 628 runners at the Royal Crescent in Bath. Not only did the weather claim a few victims, so did the terrain.
The winning runner (Mountain Goat) was: Tom Adams in 10hrs 05mins 18secs and the winning Lady was: Alison Davidson in 14hrs 18mins 28secs.
Resting this week, with a just a few miles to stretch off. The Jurassic Coast Ultra Challenge starts at 6.30am on the 21st July.