This weekend I went to Derbyshire and ran the White peak trail race, a 16 mile figure of eight route, half of it taking in the Tissington trail, which runs along an old railway line. The other half was over fields and along a very pretty gorge, called Dovedale with a river running through it and hidden caves dotted along the way. Quite a steep, zig zagging climb out and on to more fields along the top. The other sting in the tail, was a diagonal climb, approx 1/2 mile before the end. A very well organised race, with groups setting off at 10min intervals and the use of a dibber system. I was very pleased to get round within my outside time of 3hrs, but even happier to achieve my predicted time of 2hrs 50, by finishing in 2hrs 51.16. Then to find i was actually 3rd FV 50, was the icing on the cake.
The Fellsman is a notoriously tough 62 mile hilly off road Ultra event featuring involving the summits of Ingleborough and Great Whernside, difficult navigation over rough ground,and night time running. Five Swaledale runners took part in this years event starting on April 29th. Neil Bowmer finished in a fantastic 81st place out of 374 starters in 16h27m. Ian Oldham was next club finisher in 17h31m. Stu Clarkson knocked 4 hours of his previous time to finish in 22h39m, with Ros Blackmore in 22h43m and Mike Rosher in 24h27m.
Most runners would take it easy for several weeeks after such a tough event, but astonishingly Ian Oldham completed an even longer ultra race just one week after the Fellsman. The Hardmoors 110 follows the Cleveland way from Filey to Helmsley and Ian came 30th out of 84 finishers in an impressive time of 29.58.43.
Compared to the Fellsman, the Fairfield Horseshoe (9 miles, 3000 feet climbing) is child's play. Six club members turned up on May 13th for the latest race in the club fell championship. Tim Grimwood came 61st of 371 finishers in 1.44.18, with Derek Parrington and Martin Randall also breaking the 2 hour barrier, recording 1.54.36 and 1.58.21 respectively. Jim Coldwell, Oonagh Bathgate and Michael Keavney traded places for much of the race, with the two men finally pulling clear on the descent. Jim appeared poised to ease ahead of Michael with about a mile to go, when Michael stopped to provide medical assistance to an injured runner. Jim finished in 2.06.17 with Oonagh in 2.07.39, Michael finally jogged home in 2.18.17.
The following day, Andrew Fletcher ran in the Ripon 10mile road race, finishing 43rd out of 384 runners in 1.13.40. Finally, a belated mention must go to Mark Sowerby, who set an excellent personal best of 3.08.34 in this year's London Marathon.
The Fellsman – 29th/30th April 2017
How to describe the Fellsman? On the face of it, the Fellsman is like many other races; ultra-distance, being approximately 62 miles, largely unmarked, with lots of hills. But it has something else, a sense of history that make it that little bit different and a little bit special. It has evolved from being the Fellsman Hike, a long distance Scouting event which was first organised in 1966, to a modern day ultra but still with Scout groups continuing to support many of the checkpoints. Now it attracts more runners than walkers and the organisers strive to balance the needs of both communities.
Five Swaledalers started the race. Neil Bowmer, Ian Oldham, Mike Rosher, Stuart Clarkson and myself managed to get to the start line on time, with all of the correct mandatory kit, our hallowed tallies (due to be hole punched at each checkpoint) and our hopes and dreams of completing the 55th Fellsman. The pre-race briefing included a Met Office warning for sunburn, which produced a laugh, and then we were off, across the playing fields and up the track to Ingleborough. Mike, Stu and I took it easy to start, whilst Neil and Ian raced off, not to be seen again until the following day. Stu then steadily moved ahead on the steep ascent but I resisted the temptation to keep up. I had a plan; to hike the ascents and to run only when gravity assisted, in other words, downhill. I hoped this would not only give my legs the longevity they would need to complete the distance, but also help with my ultra -distance stomach problems that I just can’t seem to alleviate. It was sickness that caused my withdrawal at 45 miles at the previous year’s Fellsman, so I was determined to not over exert myself early on.
The Wensleydale Wander was run in glorious sunshine this year and Swaledale runners posted some great times:
12 Mile Route: James Taylor - 1.39.46 (3rd overall), Andy Gaines - 1.51.00, Kirsty Todd - 1.52.00, Robbie Kelly - 2.02.35, Sally Hughes - 2.42.00, Steve Hughes - 2.42.00.
22 Mile Route: Martin Randall - 3.20, Neil Bowmer - 3.23, Oonagh Bathgate - 3.24, Sue Crabbe - 3.54, Ros Blackmore - 3.54, Claire Stewart - 3.54, John Lynch - 3.55, Stu Clarkson - 4.10, Ray Crabbe - 4.12, Vicki Howe - 4.16, Helen Inglis - 4.48, Jan Ilsley - 4.48, Sarah Haynes - 5.22.
Three Swaledale Runners travelled to the Lake District for the Black Combe fell race (8 miles, 3300 feet climbing) near Millom on March 11th. This gruelling race climbs Black Combe twice from different directions and has a reputation for thick mists and difficult navigation. Many of the nation's top fellrunners have gone off route in previous years, and this year it was the turn of Swaledale's fell champion Tim Grimwood to go wandering. As a result, the three runners finished unusually close together. Tim finishes towards the top of the field in our local races but admits to still being a novice in the Lakes, and finished a modest 116th of 175 runners in 114.39. He estimates he lost 15 to 20 minutes exploring the misty summit.The club's very own Cumbrian born runner Jim Coldwell, was 131st in 118.12 followed by Becky Barnett, 136th in 119.03.
Last weekend four members ran in the Thirsk 10k road race in very windy conditions. Andrew Fletcher was 3rd V55 in 67.20 with Mark Sowerby not far behind in 67.54. Pete Devlin finished in 92.06 and Roger Brisley in 95.53.
The 2017 club Fell Championship got underway on 11th March with a trip to West Cumbria to tackle the notoriously difficult Black Combe fell race. An original group of 5 was whittled down to 3 (injuries affecting 2 runners in the days before) comprising defending champion Tim Grimwood, Becky Barnett and myself. I’ve written about this race a couple of times before and this year it certainly didn’t disappoint! The race includes 2 tough ascents, the second of which (coming towards the end) is one of the hardest (steep and seemingly never-ending) in the sport. However, as is often the case with the Combe, the weather was to provide the biggest test. With thick fog even at relatively low level navigation was always going to be a problem. Finding a good line off the summit is a real challenge, with 2 potential wrong trods to follow. I went slightly wrong at this point. I was with Wendy Dodds (who, literally, wrote the book on mountain running) who was running on her compass bearing. Even this, however, can prove difficult with no real means of orientating yourself. I realised we were heading too far to the left and we got back on track. It showed the difficulty when a runner of that experience could make an error. Tim (a runner with rather less experience!) wasn’t quite so lucky. He was with a group who made the same mistake but didn’t realise until much later, with Tim losing nearly 20 minutes with his detour. Marshals at the next 2 checkpoints used bells to help guide the runners, with CP3 (White Combe) not emerging from the mist until you were almost on it. The remainder of the race (including the fearsome final climb) was easier to navigate – although Becky probably missed the chance to go ahead of me as she was unsure of the route from the final summit back to the main path. I went wrong here (in similar conditions) last year but this time my route-finding was spot on! Tim’s mistake meant that we all finished fairly close together, although comfortably in the back half of the field. Tim finished in 1.54.39, I was 1.58.13 and Becky just behind in 1.59.03. The fact that I have a PB of 1.42.46 shows how much the conditions affected our times. I said last year that the ability to navigate should never be underestimated and this year proves the point. Hopefully the rest of the Championship races will take place in slightly better conditions!
Swaledale Runners were evenly spread between two events on March 5th with four at the Lightwater Valley Challenge 10k and four at the Haweswater Half Marathon. Zoe Mason was the first club member at Lightwater Valley and finished as 5th woman in 45.21. Stuart Hardcastle was next in 48.41, with Julia Spittle finishing in 59.56 and Anne Singleton in 62.29. The hilly Haweswater race took place in excellent conditions with views of snow topped mountains. Martin Randall finished in 1.32.14, with Oonagh Bathgate first FV55 in 1.39.14, Sue Crabbe third FV50 in 1.47.34 and John Lynch fifth V50 in 1.48.44.
At the previous days Parkruns Stuart Hardcastle recorded 22.17 at Darlington, with Zoe Mason in 23.14. Mark Sowerby was fifth at Northallerton in 22.03 with Carol Murray second woman in 27.32. Andrew Fletcher was the only member at Fountains Abbey, finishing in 20.17.
I did the Bolton Abbey Ultra last week in rather challenging weather: 33 miles on a hilly (542m ascent) and at times very muddy course! The scenery is spectacular and the route varied and interesting, despite being a lapped course. Unfortunately the lapped course also means you have to face the very exposed and soggy loop down to Bolton Bridge 3 times, but once that's completed for the 3rd time you are on the home run. I was very happy to finish in 6 hr 28, 3rd lady and 16th overall (out of 22). Although the Ultra field is small, there are many other races on the same day, from fun run, 10k, half marathon through to marathon. I would thoroughly recommend it and am keen to return on a day when the weather is more forgiving to enjoy the views at their best.
Moody weather and muddy ground greeted the seven Swaledale runners who turned out for the spectacular High Cup Nick fell race (9 miles, 1500 feet climb) on February 25th. In a race won by ex-English champion Tom Addison of Helm Hill Harriers in 61 minutes, Tim Grimwood was first home for the club in 79.16. Martin Randall was next club runner in 85.21, with Rebecca Simpson first club woman in 89.44. She was followed by Becky Barnett (93.39), Jim Coldwell (93.52), Oonagh Bathgate (97.10) and Claire Stewart.
The following day two club members ran in the flat fast Snake Lane 10 mile race at Pocklington. Chris Sayer finished in 94.14, with Andy Broadley not far behind in 96.45.
Andy Gaines was the only member at least weekends Parkruns, finishing 5th in Northallerton in 23.01.
Nine hardy souls turned up on Thursday 26th for our latest Predictor Run. It was a freezing cold night with temperatures below zero. Some club members didn't venture out that night, but one was spotted heading home with a very tasty blue cheese and a bottle of wine to share with his wife, and fellow runner, in front of an open fire. Can you guess who that may have been??
Robbie Kelly was first to finish in 28.47, and was also closest to his predicted time, being 43 secs below his prediction. Robbie was obviously not running flat out as he did a loop around town, including Lombard's Wynd, to warm down. Julia Snape ran much better than she expected, and finished 2mins 18 secs below her prediction.
For those whose competitive streak kicks in on these events, Rebecca Simpson's time of 27.19 is still the time to beat.
Our next run will take place on Thurs Feb. 23rd; just come along to the clubhouse at 6.30 to register.
The Tour de Helvellyn is a gruelling off road event taking in Lakeland passes in a 38 mile loop around Helvellyn. Three club members took part in this years event on December 17th with Ian Oldham finishing 98th of around 200 runners in 8h 43m, Caroline Graham 124th in 9h 13m and Michael Rosher 188th in 11h 9m. The following day Robbie Kelly was first club finisher at the 8 mile multi terrain Loftus Poultry Run in a time of 56.53. Oonagh Bathgate was 2nd FV55 in 57.38 with Claire Stewart in 68.38 and Julia Spittle in 78.74.
The club's women have become used to winning team prizes in recent months and scored their most impressive victory to date on December 27th, to finish first of 14 teams at the Guisborough Woods Fell race. Rebecca Simpson was 8th woman in 49.28, with Caitlin Pearson 12th in 51.45 and Becky Barnett 15th in 54.19. Michael Keavney also ran, finishing in 51.38. Also on the 27th, Derek Parrington finished 34th out of over 602 runners at the Jolly Holly 10k in Ripon, Carol Murray recorded 53.09, with Roger Brisley in 65.10 and Richie Smith in 66.35.
There were 4 club members in each of the two local New Years Day fell races. Tim Grimwood continued his good form to finish 26th in the 8 mile Nine Standards race at Kirkby Stephen, with Robbie Kelly next club finisher in 70.44, followed by Jim Coldwell in 77.55 and Claire Stewart in 86.36. At Captain Cook's monument Ian Oldham finished just ahead of Martin Randall, with times of 40.40 and 41.07 respectively. Stephen Libby recorded 43.45 and Caroline Graham 45.55
Anne Singleton was the sole club representative at this year's Langdale Christmas Pudding 10k in the Lakes on December 3rd and finished just outside the hour mark in 61.28. The following day saw seven members at the Eskdale Eureka fell race (8 miles, 1400 feet climbing) at Castleton. Tim Grimwood finished 19th in a strong field of 130 runners in 64.32, follwed by Ian Oldham in 75.02. Michael Keavney finished in 77.14, just ahead of a closely bunched women's team of Rebecca Simpson in 77.43, Becky Barnett in 78.54 and Caroline Graham in 80.29. The trio were unlucky not to win the women's team prize. Also on the Sunday, two members travelled to Blyth for a bracing run along the beach in the 5 mile Blyth Sands Handicap race. The race format gives a head start according to age and sex category and Steve Brown finished 6th out of 121 runners with an actual time of 33.15, with Martin Randall 30th in 35.13.
Rebecca Simpson underlined her good form at last Saturday's Darlington Parkrun to finish as first woman in a new PB of 20.05. Zoe Mason was fourth woman in 21.14 and Stuart Hardcastle finished in 22.02. At the Fountains Abbey event Andrew Fletcher was first V55 as usual, in 19.37. Over in Northallerton Vicki Howe recorded 26.04 and Julia Spittle 28.57.
Away from racing, the annual Presentation Night took place at Richmond Rugby Club on December 2nd. The event was well attended and successful, confirming that the club is in good shape at the moment. Awards for best male and female went to Steve Brown and Oonagh Bathgate respectively. Andrew Fletcher and Julia Spittle picked up the prizes for the Road championship. Tim Grimwood was crowned Fell Champion for some excellent performances in his first serious year on the hills. However, he still has a lot to learn in the discipline when it comes to navigation, and also picked up the wooden spoon for getting lost between the car park and the start line at a Lake District race in September.
The Wensleydale Wedge took place on November 20th with muddy ground on the lower slopes and snow on the tops. The 23 mile route is a Long Distance Walkers Association event but welcomes runners, and many club members took part. Martin Randall finished 6th out of 240 finishers in 4.02 with Ian Oldham also highly placed in 12th with a time of 4.11. Other times - Caroline Graham 4.42, Neil Bowmer 4.42, Vicki Howe 5.07, Michael Rosher 5.23, Ros Blackmore 6.13, Sarah Haynes 6.31, Stu Clarkson 6.31. The following Saturday three members ran in the hilly Ravenstonedale 10k near Kirkby Stephen on a beautiful cold crisp day. Martin Randall was first club finisher again in 42.54 with Jim Coldwell in 45.48 and James Taylor in 48.21. Jim had also been in action two weeks earlier at the Dunnerdale fell race (5 miles, 1800 feet climb). He had an excellent run to finish 88th out of 183 runners in 56.49, beating club rival Michael Keavney (59.14) by a convincing margin.
Park run times . Northallerton - November 19th, Andy Gaines 22.07. November 26th Vicki Howe 26.11. Darlington - November 26th, Zoe Mason 22.47.
The Saltergate Gallows fell race (10.6 miles, 1400 feet climb) on November 6th was the final race in this year's club fell championship, and took place in testing wintery conditions. Tim Grimwood finished in an excellent 16th place in the race in 93.40, confirming him as club champion. Ian Oldham was next club finisher in 99.24 with Robbie Kelly in 103.08. Rebecca Barnett in 106.58 and Caroline Graham in 107.45 finished as 6th and 7th women respectively. Thanks to the "ghost" runner rule used in the Esk Valley series, Swaledale's team of two highly placed women beat those clubs with three slower women to the team title. Jim Coldwell finished just behind Caroline in 108.18. On the same day Pete Devlin finished the Leeds Abbey Dash in 52.48.
Zoe Mason, Andy Gaines and Andrew Fletcher continue to perform well in local Parkruns, the most notable performances being a first place for Zoe at Darlington, second place for Andy at Northallerton and fifth overall and first V55 for Andrew at Fountains Abbey.
Parkrun times. Northallerton : November 5th - Andy Gaines 21.18, Niall Cheyne 24.32, Chris Sayer 29.39. November 12th - Andy Gaines 21.50, Niall Cheyne 33.30. Darlington: November 5th - Rebecca Simpson 25.50. November 12th - Zoe Mason 21.35. Fountains Abbey: November 5th - Andrew Fletcher 19.40.
Twelve club members made the short trip to Boroughbridge for the Shaun Lee Johnstone 10 mile multi-terrain race on October 16th, and for the third consecutive weekend Swaledale picked up the women's team prize. Oonagh Bathgate finished as 5th woman and first FV55 in 73.42. Zoe Mason (80.02) and Vicki Howe(88.56) completed the team. Swaledale also had two men in the top ten, with Derek Parrington 6th in 66.14 and Tim Grimwood 9th in 67.31. Other club times - Neil Bowmer 73.30, Andy Gaines 75.16, Niall Cheyne 88.41, Ros Blackmore 91.57, Grace Gilpin 92.49, Liz Sowter 95.42 and Julia Spittle 102.09. Also on October 16th, Dave Atkinson was the sole club representative at the Bridlington Half Marathon, finishing 30th in 1.28.25.
There was a close contest between three club runners in the Great Whernside fell race in Kettlewell on October 22nd. Robbie Kelly held off Michael Keavney on the descent to finish in 44.39, with Michael in 45.26, just inside the top half of the field. Jim Coldwell wasn't far behind in 47.04. On the same day new member Rebecca Barnett ran her first race for the club, and was first woman and third overall in a small field of 21 in the Osmotherley trail 12k. In the 20k option Derek Parrington came 13th in 1.42.53 with Alison Johnstone in 2.27.55 and Julia Spittle in 2.43.52.
Andrew Fletcher continues to run well in the Fountains Abbey Parkrun and set a new PB of 19.14 on October 15th. He ran exactly the same time again the following week. Jo Caisley also ran on the 15th, recording a time of 27.45. Zoe Mason is also going well in Parkruns and finished in 22.25 at Darlington on October 15th and in 21.05 (third woman) last weekend. In the Northallerton event Andy Gaines was third on the 15th in 21.38 and 4th on the 22nd in 21.36, when he was joined by Niall Cheyne in 26.06
Three Swaledale runners took part in the 35 mile Round Ripon Ultra. Stuart Clarkson, who particularly enjoys the longer distances these days, finished in 7.38.39. Louise Branford-White and Chris Sayer had never attemped an ultra before, but seemed to enjoy the experience, finishing in 8.38.09 and 8.46.35 respectively.
The Kielder Marathon bills itself as Britain's most beautiful but it certainly isn't the easiest. The Swaledale trio of Martin Randall, Chris Lamb and Niall Cheyne tackled the course together for the second consecutive year on October 2nd. Martin finished in 3.34.40 with Chris in 4.09.43 and Niall in 4.32.37. On the same day five club members ran in the 12.9k Grewelthorpe multi terrain race. Robbie Kelly finished in 63.11 just ahead of Oonagh Bathgate, who was first FV50 in 63.59. Neil Bowmer crossed the line in 65.21 with Lucy Riley in 71.46 and Ros Blackmore in 82.01. The ladies were delighted and surprised to come away with the team prize.
The club's own race, the Richmond Castle 10k, took place in perfect conditions last Sunday. Louise Branford-White took on the role of Race Director this year, and was ably assisted by Geoff Kensett, Robbie Kelly and a huge band of marshalls. The men's race was won by Alex Kiel of Quakers in 33.55 with Rosie Smith of Durham winning the women's race in 36.28. Oonagh Bathgate is in the form of her life at present and led Swaledale to the women's team prize with a time of 44.39. Lucy Riley (49.50) and Claire Stewart (51.43) completed the team. Dave Atkinson was first club runner home in 41.15 with Andy Gaines in 45.23 and Pete Devlin in 56.27. The previous day Michael Keavney completed the Langdale Horseshoe fell race (13.1 miles 4750 feet climbing) in 3.32.30.
Park Run results October 8th. Darlington - Zoe Mason (3rd woman) 21.19. Northallerton - Andy Gaines 21.04, Carol Murray 24.41, Zoe Mackay 26.02. Fountains Abbey - Andrew Fletcher 19.26 (first V55 in new PB 19.26)