Blue Runnings

Race Reviews, GPX files and more from North-East England

Best Laid Plans

“Hello! Can you come and pick me up from the Burnopfield parking and bring two carrier bags please?”

“What type of carrier bags?”

“Plastic – I found a new bog and I’m very muddy and smell bad.”

“Ok, see you in five.”

My hubby is a blessedly tolerant man – especially when his wife insists on tracking half the countryside through the car and house on a not infrequent basis, and he doesn’t run himself!

Last week was the Greener Miles Team Virtual Hill Climb Challenge – 10 runners, 5M + 5F, 30 mins, how much cumulative elevation can you get. I chose Ebchester bank, hilled my little heart out, waved the Bounders flag and died for the rest of the week. We came 8th out of 37 teams – very respectable I feel and I’m proud to have been part of it. 🙂


This weekend, it’s the ‘Hutchy’s Full Tilt 30 Mins’ – same team set up, how far can you go, highest cumulative distance wins – so terrain friendly routes on the list! This time the Bounders have a whopping five teams entered. Some people are heading to the local track, down the Derwent walk, anywhere that’s flat or downhill! In my wisdom, I decided I would do a new route I’d worked out from an Ordnance Survey map of the area. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t run down the Dene (where I always get my fastest mile) and down the Derwent Walk towards Rowlands Gill, but in all honesty it didn’t occur to me! Brain must still be fuddled from last week – I know it wiped my knees out!

My new route is not complicated. On paper. And I’m not usually bad with maps. Today is going a long way to discrediting that statement. I went off piste three times from my intended route – in all cases knowing where I was, how to get home – not technically ‘lost’ but definitely not where I’d intended to be!

The first long downhill stretch of my run is one I have done several times before as part of routes in both directions – so off we go. Someone has shut all the gates so I’m handicapped by six stiles needing to be crossed by the time I reach the bottom. Looking at my decided outfit it may also have been a style handicap as I don’t think I could have picked more clashing colours if I tried! Think I’m only missing purple!


I know I have to turn right at the bottom before the farm and then the path will turn left. Turns out there’s two right turns. I want the second one. Who knew right? So, I end up continuing on familiar paths thinking maybe there’s a left turn I’ve just not noticed before (there’s not) and get to the bottom where the stream is and turn left on a path I’ve been meaning to explore for a while, even though I know from the maps that it heads to Dipton – uphill – and not the way I want to go today.

I end up stepping-stone jumping across the stream (we’re about halfway through our 30 mins by this point) and the track starts to creep up again. It’s turning into a Trail Outlaws type route – I’m dodging collapsed tree roots and jumping several other downed trunks. There is for some reason several more of those weird lettered headstones I’ve seen over Ebchester Woods in the middle of this little wood (with a ‘P’ on this time!). I end up looking out at this and know exactly where I’ve come out from the Red Kite Trail Race two years ago. That path goes to Dipton – not, as mentioned before, where I want to be going today.


I turn left, maybe there’s a path that turns off towards Burnopfield round that bend? There’s not – and being at the bottom of a valley is not the best place to be trying to do a speed challenge as it’s all uphill from here. I turn round thinking I’ll just start my 30 mins again when I get back to the farm and find the right downwards path – I have confirmed my error as I’ve photos of the map on my phone. I head back in a more leisurely manner, taking photos as I go of the path I’ve already covered but leaving the clock running figuring I might as well enjoy the scenery and get a breather for now.

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment »

Gateshead Trail 10k – 2019

It’s Gateshead Trail time again! Now in its sixth incarnation, and even bigger than ever with 2000 runners signed up for this year’s event, though I’m not sure if some didn’t bail with the weather warnings! I think I’ve made four out of six races since it started 🙂 I like the route, how local it is to me (15 mins drive away tops!), and the general atmosphere at basecamp. The medal’s usually a corker too 😉 J was my official chauffeur and cheerleader for this one, and we met L down there who made sure we were fully stocked with tablet for a sugar boost post-race!


It feels like normally this race is blessed with sunshine, but there were lightning and rain warnings this year as there have been for previous week, and the river was very full indeed! Anorak’s and bin bags were in plentiful supply in the run up to the race, and those small (and less small!) beings blessed with wellies were having a good stomp in the water-logged fields while it showered.


As it happens, we’d scrapped the jackets and bin liners at the start line as it was rather close despite the wet, and it didn’t rain again for the rest of the event! There may even have been a hint of a sunbeam in a few places!

L & I started in a slightly faster time pen than we were going for – L was hoping to beat last year’s time, and I sometimes find that I get quite penned in if I start nearer the back, even though my intention was to take things easy and just get round (I may do a knees update later this week!). Gateshead Trail 10k is great for being open to all abilities and there’s a huge range of paces taking part – from the sprint-for-miles to those who may need to walk quite a bit of it, but the nearer the back of the starting pens you get the less accurate it feels the approximate timings of the participants is and the busier it gets – and I always feel a bit rude darting round people!

It honestly didn’t feel like there were 2000 runners when we set up – it was plenty busy enough at the start line, but with the way the organisers had set up the start line we didn’t get hemmed in at all after we crossed it and were nicely spaced out as we set out towards Derwenthaugh Park. L and I kept about the same pace and had a good chat for the first 3km, but as we hit the first long incline I began to drop back a bit while L went ahead. I managed to keep her in sight for most of the race, but she disappeared somewhere between the 7km and 8km mark as we headed back to Blaydon along the Derwent Walk! We’d both worn trail shoes having serious questionmarks over the amount of mud there was likely to be, but unless you were one of the front-runners and full on sprinting through the puddles, it wasn’t too bad and road trainers you didn’t mind getting a bit grubby would have been fine.


I did manage to complete the last straight with a sprint finish (this race and Kielder 10k are two I always have to feel I’ve emptied the tank crossing the finish line – even when I’ve been taking it easy like this time!) without falling on my face over the timing mats (win!), and this year’s medal felt particularly heavy round my neck at the end! I don’t think it’s any different than previous years but it’s not been a very medal-heavy year for me this year so it stuck out!


I stopped actively using Strava a while ago – though I still have an account. Still having an account, it still sometimes sends me emails usually regarding what my friends are out doing. I received one yesterday evening regarding a certain segment on the Gateshead Trail 10k. It turns out, I’ve held the ladies course record since 2015 – until yesterday when a well-deserving Strider apparently kicked my 2015 bottom into touch!


For someone who doesn’t normally use Strava, and is not competitive in many things, I’m slightly put out 😛 This year’s time doesn’t come close either! Nevermind 🙂 I’m still on the board at position 80 – and I think lady number 2 🙂 Not too shabby for someone who’s normally at the middle-back of the pack 🙂

All in all, another great race with some lovely people ❤


I even found a NEW friend on my way back to the carpark!


Will we be back next year? Probably – if I’m not swanning around the South of France somewhere!


You can download the GPX file for this route from my Dropbox account here

Leave a comment »

George Ogle Memorial Race 2018

A new route this year – and a few new faces at the race start! C for some reason had believed only the ‘flat bit’ of my race description (the last mile or so) but has disregarded my comments about hills and steps as apparently it’s more likely I am winding her up than that anyone could POSSIBLY put flights of steps in a race event. The Nile is not only a river in Egypt… It can’t be that bad if we all keep going back year after year 😉


Photo by CM (Blackhill Bounders)

I think the best way to share the route for this is to just let Derwent Valley Running Club do it themselves with their fab video of the route!

There was a slight modification to the route this year – apparently two horrendous hills is not enough so a third near the start was very kindly added in by some generous route-finding soul… I confess here and now to marching it! When we set off I had faint hopes of getting under the 1hr marker for the first time (previous times 1:09:48 in 2015 and 1:00:24 in 2017 I have just discovered) and I’d basically thrown that out the window by the time we turned through the gate for the first hill – the new one – and figured I’d just see how I did and concentrate and getting to the finish line!

I don’t know how many flights of steps there were in this race – maybe 5? – but I know I only ran 1.5 of them and walked at least part of all the big hills! I was in good company 😉 I was therefore delighted to get back round to the viaduct and find that I still had a shot at getting under the 1hr marker – and the terrain was going to be in my favour (for once) for getting there if I could keep the pace going.


I did – even with the walk breaks – end up coming in under the hour marker at 57:48, which I’m really pleased with 🙂 Definitely making progress with the pacing! Plenty of spot prizes at the race with the finishing gifts – our group walked off with a bottle of wine and another of gin! This race usually gives goodies instead of medals and this year was no different – water bottle, buff and B’s favourite jellybeans 🙂

B, G and I will be back next year…we’ll wait and see if J3, C and R join us again! According to some it’s not a race without bling at the finish 😉


You can download a GPX file for this route from my Dropbox account by clicking on the link below:

George Ogle 2018 route file

Leave a comment »

Gateshead Trail 2015 – 10k


I don’t know why I bother with alarm clocks I really don’t. The Gateshead Trail kicked off at 10am, registration opening at 8am and knowing how busy it was last year even when I’d collected my number before raceday, I opted for getting there just after registration time to pick up my number so I’d set my alarm for early. I still woke up at 05:30 – a similar time to when I get up for work, and spent an hour in bed on the tablet before getting up for a shower. I took a book with me (to the race, not in the shower) and read it in the car for an hour after I’d picked up my number and t-shirt (pre-ordered with race entry, not a finisher’s pack one for this one) as it was still nippy outside. By not a huge amount of time after 9am it was already warming up and I was starting to cook even with the window down – I had a lightweight hoody on with the hood up to shade my face so my cheeks weren’t burning before I’d set off!


I set off with a group of Bounders in the 60-70 minute wave but it wasn’t long before we all spaced out as we each settled into our own paces. Last time I did this race I’d not been running a huge amount of time and I remember being really pleased that I made it all the way to the 3km mark without a walking break – at the time this was a walk-free record for me, and actually as I passed the same marker this time I was tempted to do the same thing! Instead of just bailing and walking – that really would have been folding to just general lethargy, I made myself take a step down in the pace and use this race as a training exercise for keeping going for longer in the heat by not pushing myself as fast – or I probably wouldn’t have gotten round in one go as I did. Having run-walked it last year, I really wanted to run the whole thing this year, and knowing it’s mostly flat and I’ve covered the distance and further several times before I was not allowing any excuses not to!

I got a boost from the passing section where everyone waves and cheers on each other while they’re passing, but it wasn’t until somewhere between the 5 and 6km mark that I really started to find my groove and settle down into a quiet headspace where I didn’t have to fight with my legs, lungs or temperature. Of course, not long after that I hit the longest hill on the course and that nearly had me – I was determined to get as far up as I could even with some other runners dropping down to a walk halfway up and made it to the crest, but if it had been much longer I’m not sure I would have been able to!

11892276_869591406468654_4095238593321931224_n Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment »

Derwent Walk – Take II – 13km


I did NOT want to get out of bed this morning, I’d gone to bed later than usual faffing about with stuff for next weekend, P got home from night shift about 07:20 and I was ready to roll over for another hour’s kip. J however, had other ideas. We went out last weekend to try and start stretching her mileage, and I’d dragged her out at 8am. Despite the last message I’d received last night being along the lines of she’d done a ridiculous amount of cycling that day and wasn’t sure if she’d be super stiff in the morning but would let me know, it turned out she was up, dressed and stuffing breakfast in her face while I was supposed to psychically know that we were going out, and also that we were going out the same time as the weekend before. She’s lucky I checked my tablet on a whim or she would have been waiting some time by herself at the carpark as I was expecting a text or something! 😛

I fobbed her off until 9am much to her surprise, why she should be surprised I might want a lie-in on a weekend is beyond me, these shifties don’t know how precious a Sunday morning can be! We did the same route as last time along the Derwent Walk and back, this time aiming for that milestone of 13km – last time we hit 12k. I started my watch a bit late sorting satellites and not letting J use it as an excuse to walk further along at the start – but hers definitely said 13k when we finished 🙂 According to my watch we were 10 seconds per km faster – and that was with going slightly further, and on J’s for finish time we did the 13k in less time than we did the 12k last week! Mine’s not quite giving the same result but as I said last time, we’ll argue about Garmin V TomTom another time – as long as they’re consistent with themselves that’s the main thing!

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment »

Derwent Walk, Derwent Talk! – 12km


I knew it felt like a while since I’d last done a training run when I was uploading the map for today’s route – I haven’t done a training run blog entry since May the 28th! With the large number of races I had through May and into June, I’ve been doing more events than training – and the short 3km training run I did with J a few days before my half marathon, I didn’t do a blog entry for as I was still trying to catch up on the Blaydon Races and get everything squared away at work for my being off for a long weekend! After getting the Newburn River Race out the way last Wednesday, I’ve now got a few weeks race free! I need it after how busy May was. I wonder if it’s possible for me to put any more hyperlinks in a paragraph?!

ANYWAY. With only 12 weeks to go until the Great North Run (or something like that anyway), J is getting understandably a bit nervous about the distance – her furthest run being 10.6k to date, and 21k can look daunting when you’re wanting to try to run the whole thing! So, time to start upping that distance! J likes to watch her watch a lot when she’s running – and can’t be trusted not to try and go for pb 5k and 10k times on a route – which you can’t really intend to do when you’re going out for a long run. I only really use mine for determining when my next water or dextrose break is on the long ones, but unlike J, I am not really competitive! When there’s noone else to race, she races herself!

I’d not actually told J what we were going to be doing today, just told her I’d pick her up at 8am (which I was late for, because you know, breakfast happened). She assumed I’d planned something horrible when in actual fact I didn’t decide what we were doing until I was in the car on the way to her house. I had three options in mind for helping her with her distance – she wants to see how far she can get around Grafham reservoir when she’s on her holidays in 3 weeks time, which is a 10 mile loop.

The first was to go along the Derwent Walk and back – moderately level going, turn round at the bridge at the 6.5km mark and get back to the car park having done 7-8 miles depending on where we decided to end our run from. This one was just for adding miles under the trainers as the terrain is moderately forgiving. That might be the opinion of someone who’s gotten used to running in Consett though…

The second option was to run from my house towards Consett and around the industrial estate, about 8-10k depending on if you do one loop or two, and as there’s several long steady but not too steep hills on this route, it would give her the opportunity to do a distance she was familiar with, on slightly tougher terrain to help with building stamina for the longer distances.

Option three took this a step further – Blackhill Parkrun. 5km distance which we all know she can do, but on the toughest terrain for hills I think she’s covered – which would also be good prep for the Butterwick Hospice Run at Hamsterley Forest, which I can say from previous experience, is not going to be a flat 10k in any shape or form. Personally, I have yet to actively enjoy Blackhill Parkrun, but when I’ve done it I’ve really noticed a difference in my running afterwards – it’s definitely a contributing factor to a step-up in my pace and I need to go back again if I want to get quicker again! I want to be able to do it in under 30 mins if possible. Every running trainer will tell you that 5km of hills is worth 10km of flats, and any flat race of any distance is a synch in comparison! It doesn’t make it easier to do the hills at the time, but it really does help in the long run!

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment »

George Ogle Memorial Race – 9.1km

I did the George Ogle Memorial Race for the first time last night, it’s organised by PB Fitness in memory of a local runner who died in 2010, and goes around the Derwenthaugh park between Rowlands Gill and Winlaton Mill. It had been raining all afternoon – hurray for not hot, not so hurray for soggy running! Fortunately it had decided to blow over about an hour before the start and was getting quite sunny but still cool by race time. I had a surprise waiting for me at the start line – J had come to hold all my safety pins and cheer me on which was quite absolutely lovely of her (AND it’s now 1pm and she’s not hassling me for a blog entry yet! Unheard of!). She found a Bounders puppy to spoil while she was waiting for me to pootle my way round.

GOMR pup

Photo by LD of the Blackhill Bounders

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment »

07-03-15 12.5km


I won’t say I bounced at the door for my run this morning, because that would be a moderately ginormous lie. I did however, bounce back in the house again afterwards as much as my tired legs would allow as my run, when I finally got out, went really really well.

It is currently very windy around our house at the moment, and it shrieks like a banshee round the corner of our house right above the bedroom window. Restful night’s sleep? No thank you, I’d love to be tossing and turning for hours! That’s just what I need after a week at work! Needless to say, I woke up a little tetchy…and then while trying to chuck my running gadgets on charge for a short time before going out, a technology tantrum started brewing. Could I get my ipod shuffle to charge? Could I hell! It froze my computer, which then took ages to restart, then wouldn’t register at all either on my pc, my laptop or a wall-charger. Fortunately I got it reset and it behaved itself after that but my slightly frayed nerves were getting increasingly angsty about it!

Then, I couldn’t decide where to go. My original plan from earlier in the week had been to go down to Wylam and do the loop down to Newburn and back, and see if I could run the last 1km back to the car rather than walking it as I usually do. 20 mins each way in the car minimum? Today? When it’s already about 1.5 hours later than I was intending to leave as I’ve frittered and fussed about so much? No thanks! Eventually I settled for somewhere a bit more local that I haven’t been to before but some of the guys at work were saying was worth a walk (so must be worth a run right?!). The Derwent Walk is just down the hill from us, but I couldn’t face the thought of having to run or walk back up that hill afterwards – it’s steep even in a car, so I took the car to the carpark instead.

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment »