Blue Runnings

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

parkrun – Sedgefield

For information on this parkrun course, see the official parkrun page below:

http://www.parkrun.org.uk/sedgefield/

This parkrun in Sedgefield involves 2 laps of Hardwick Park; it’s mostly flat and runs around a lake but has one small hill about 2/3’s of the way round – fine on the first lap, a bit of a stickler on the second I found! There was plenty to see on the way round – a mix of wildlife and more manmade things of interest so it’s an easy one to just kick back and enjoy if you’re not going for a time 🙂

There’s plenty of parking – normally a charge but if you put your spare barcode in the windscreen it’s FREE until 11am, which gives you plenty of time to pop to the loos (also open before the start) and go the coffee shop for a breakfast bap or a wide selection of yummy cakes!

My GPS map for this route:

Sedgefield

You can download the GPX route file for this course from my Dropbox account by following the link below:

GPX file for Sedgefield parkrun

Course completed 14-04-2018

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Washington Duathlon

A few years ago, despite being just about able to float in water and having been on a bike twice in the previous 10 years, I signed up for a Go-TRI event in Prudhoe just to see what it was all about. I came away with two lasting impressions: various exercise segments being comfortably within your grasp does not mean they will remain so when you’ve shoved them all together, and I do not like swimming.

My main aim for 2018 was to try new things and have fun with exercise, so when I saw a novice DUathlon in the local area, I was down to give it a go – and why not drag someone else along for the ride?! I really like the ‘intro’ level events that some clubs hold to get people into sport – they are much less daunting than signing up for a ‘full’ event when you have no idea if you’ll be able to do it all and are still shaky on what’s involved with ‘Transition’ and really don’t want to be shouted at by a marshall for making the biggest faux pas in the world ever in complete ignorance.

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There were two events on today – a Novice event, and double the distance for the Sprint.  Being undeniably new to this, B and I had signed up for the Novice event; a run of 2.7km (2 laps), cycle of 10km (2 laps), and a final run of 1.35km (1 lap).

When you turn up at an event like this, the first thing they do when you register is cover you in numbers. Everywhere. You know when you go to a theme park and there’s small children with bracelets or writing on them with their responsible adult’s details on incase they get lost? It’s like there’s an assumption to do one of these events there must be something special about you, and thus they make it obvious you are undertaking such an event. This way, if some kindly soul takes pity on you cycling in circles round and round Sainsbury’s carpark, they will at least know which way to point you to return you to your kind. We had pen numbers on our arms and calves (I still haven’t got them off two washing attempts later), stickers for our helmets and our bikes, a number bib for pinning to our belts incase the smaller ones just weren’t obvious enough and a house-arrest convict style ankle bracelet which is allegedly for timing but may or may not contain a GPS tracker… It is claimed these are to stop people stealing your bike – it must match your numbers, your bib – it must match your body art, and your helmet – which must also match all of the other things. We know the truth 😛

We succeeding in levitating our bikes ready in transition (there was a fence too close so they didn’t touch the floor!) and were about as ready as we were ever going to be to set off.

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It is a well-known strategy for particularly longer races that you find a nice bum and follow it. We hadn’t been running for long when we were passed by several of the people doing the Sprint (and well, compared to us – sprinting), one of them with a very…distinctive bottom?! We dubbed him Window Bum Man as for some reason he had a circle of netting in the back of his tri-suit…

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parkrun – Woodbank

For information on this parkrun course, see the official parkrun page below:

http://www.parkrun.org.uk/woodbank/

This parkrun in Stockport covers ground in two parks – Woodbank and Vernon, and starts at the top of a hill…you can see where this is going?! There’s a tough little uphill kick at the end of the Vernon Park loop (which you do twice) as you can see on the elevation profile below!

There’s limited parking near the start-line – maybe 20 cars? – so get there early if you’re planning on using it, or there’s a bigger public carpark nearby. Average number of runners is 120 per week, so no fear of being on your own in a small group of elite runners! The whole route takes place on tarmac, except for one small section of cobbles as you crest the top of the hill coming out of Vernon Park.

 

My GPS map for this route:

Woodbank

You can download the GPX route file for this course from my Dropbox account by following the link below:

GPX file for Woodbank parkrun

Course completed 31-03-2018

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Gibside Night Run 2018

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I ran Gibside Night Run for the first time in 2015, and since then it’s made the list of ‘races I want to run’ every year – but this is the first year I’ve actually made it back: I missed one of the intermediary years due to illness, and another due to it clashing with another night race J had booked us all on to. This year, I managed to sucker B into attending me as a late entry and we both headed off to Gibside with G as official bagholder for the fee of 1 post-race pizza!

 

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I’d remembered some stretches suprisingly well given it’s 3 years since I last did it, and had blissfully forgotten the length of some of the hills, and the steepness of the second-to-last one! I’ve run at Gibside enough times to know there’s always a hill near the start – it doesn’t matter which way you go, unless you’re just doing the Avenue and back you are going to hit a hill.

There wasn’t a huge amount of chatting up the first loooong hill, but we both made it to the top maintaining a steady jog, and passing several people who’d dropped to a walk from about halfway up. One of the great things about hill training and having pretty much any local run you try to do featuring at least one hill in it somewhere is you get to be pretty unphased unless they’re particularly long and/or steep. It was a marked difference in approach to last time I did this race, where I definitely walked every one of the uphills after the first few steps up them.

The one thing that wasn’t different was how much I enjoyed it – this is very much a fun run; it’s not chocka with club runners, it’s popular with families, walkers, people with dogs, you name it! It’s very low pressure and at 6km is a distance you can either push yourself over or just kick back and enjoy it.

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parkrun – Divonne Les Bains – Lac de Divonne

For information on this parkrun course, see the official parkrun page below:

http://www.parkrun.fr/lacdedivonne/

This is a completely flat course (seriously, flat as a crêpe!), right on the border of France and Switzerland. The course is a there-and-back route covering three sides of the local lake with a very long narrow loop at one end. When I went all the marshalls spoke both French and English, and the kick-off instructions were given in both languages.

Local facilities:

  • Parking (free)
  • Café
  • Toilet (beware for those not acquainted with this type of toilet – the whole room is sprayed after use so do not follow someone straight in without waiting for it to do its cleaning cycle first or you will get a very unpleasant surprise!!!)
  • Play area

My GPS map for this route:

Lac de Divonne

You can download the GPX route file for this course from my Dropbox account by following the link below:

GPX file for Lac de Divonne parkrun

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parkrun – Gibside

For information on this parkrun course, see the official parkrun page below:

http://www.parkrun.org.uk/gibside/

This is a tough little course – which was evident from the smaller number of runners who braved it despite it being a clear and sunny morning (though that may also have been the summer holidays coming into play). It’s a tough little course with some long and serious hills and an elevation of 311ft according to my GPS watch. There’s flatter stretches at the top of each hill, but you don’t get to go down much until the very end where you come right back down and then along the long flat of The Avenue back to the finish. You leave by the Walled Garden, head out on a loop at the top of the estate, and finish on a there-and-back part way up the hill to the highest point on Gibside’s grounds before spinning round and heading back to the Walled Garden again for the finish.

You can view a map of the estate (which is worth a visit even just for a walk round and a teacake) by clicking the link below.

Gibside Estate Map from National Trust

Runner’s View video tour of Gibside parkrun, taken 29-07-17 with a head-mounted (and therefore somewhat bouncy-recording!) Apeman camera.

Local facilities:

  • Café (takes cash or card)
  • Toilets

My GPS map for this route:

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You can download the GPX route file for this course from my Dropbox account by following the link below:

GPX file for Gibside parkrun

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parkrun – Newcastle: Rising Sun

For information on this parkrun course, see the official parkrun page below:

http://www.parkrun.org.uk/risingsun/

This is a pretty flat course on tarmac country lanes and very well marshalled. You head out, do a repeat loop of about half a mile around the outside of a field at one end and then return back to the start.

Local facilities:

  • Café (takes cash or card)
  • Toilets

My GPS map for this route:

Rising Sun

You can download the GPX route file for this course from my Dropbox account by following the link below:

GPX file for Rising Sun parkrun

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parkrun – Guildford

For information on this parkrun course, see the official parkrun page below:

http://www.parkrun.org.uk/guildford/

This route involves 2 laps of Guildford’s Stoke Park – and is rather more undulating than you might think at first glance, especially by the second lap!

There’s a communal parkrun coffee session at the bowling club just pass the treetop adventure course (try it if you’ve not already had your morning fill of fun?!) and Spectrum is just across the road for Costa and plenty of parking.

My GPS map for this route:

Guildford.png

You can download the GPX file for this course from my Dropbox folder here:

Guildford parkrun GPX file

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Pier To Pier 2017

It’s Pier to Pier time again! I ran this in 2015 and spectated in 2016 due to illness, so it was good to be out running it again. Last time I left my car at the start and caught the metro back when I’d finished as I had no idea where I was going at either end, but this year I took advantage of the coaches which had been enlisted to ferry people who had parked at the finish back to the start line in good time for everything kicking off. I’d definitely use this service again if not getting the Bounders coach as it was very smooth – I found parking easily (not so in 2016 when I was meeing J at the finish as it was full of presumably runner’s cars!) and didn’t have to wait at all for a coach.

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The start of this race is on the sand by the pier at South Shields – and more than one person had to empty their shoes of sand from crossing the loose stuff before the start time. I’d opted for my Goretex trail shoes – the pink canoes – and they did keep the bulk of the sand out – I’d picked up some by the end of the race just from what was kicked up over the top as I went round, but I wasn’t aware of it being there – sand blisters are not pleasant and are to be avoided if possible!

I ran with G for this one and we had a good natter and a birdwatch on the way round. The long sand stretch at the start had us both feeling very heavy-calved very quickly which was not a reassuring start to a 7 mile-ish run! There are three routes you can take across the Leas when you leave the beach, I suspect the middle or road ones are the fastest, but we opted for the coastal path just for the view – the sun kept just lighting the wave tips of a very calm sea and the cliffs were gorgeous.

The first part of this course is deceptively hilly, and it took until about mile 2 to get into a comfortable stride – the route flattens out across the cliffs, and then you have a longer downhill across the clifftop to Souter Lighthouse and the water station. From Souter all the way to the finish, with only one or two small blips, it was blessedly downhill or flat.

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It’s difficult to judge your progress by landmarks on this route, as there aren’t really many…you go across winding clifftops with higher bushy edges and not much visibility of the course ahead for the first part, then you can see a tower building and a lighthouse. The tower is now a restaurant or something and there are steps down to Marsden Beach (there were so many points along here where I was itching to go down to the beach to explore the cliffs or go for a paddle!) and the lighthouse is Souter Lighthouse and marks the halfway point between South Shields and Sunderland piers.

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Washington Trail 10k – 2017

The Trail Outlaws organise a series of ‘Urban Trail’ races from 10k to half marathon around the North-East (and if you fancy it, right up to the 100+ miles marker not for some of us mere mortals!), and this race around Washington is rapidly becoming a regular feature in my running calendar – so when I heard J was doing again this year (straight after night shift she was that keen!), I couldn’t leave her to go by herself! It also meant I might have half a chance of keeping up with her if I caught her when she would be already too tired for any sane person to consider going for a 10k run in the hills…

I don’t know if one of the Trail Outlaws guys has a deal with the weather for this one, but I don’t think I’ve done it when it hasn’t been blue skies and sunshine, or not far off it! This is appreciated in one respect because the riverside and the woods look fantastic in the sunshine when the flowers are coming out, and it makes you really appreciate the shade, but it also means that you cook when you’re going up the hills in the first half which are a bit more exposed…

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There are several loops to this race, passing through a common marshalling and refreshments area where there’s always a ready supply of drinks – water and cola this time – and if you’re lucky there might still be some jelly babies left even by your third time through! There are always several marshalls here handing out drinks, and it’s great to see the kids getting involved handing out beakers and giving power-up high-fives to all who pass through – no matter how many times they’ve seen you already! You come downhill from the start to join the river and start your first lap after passing through this area (Time 1), heading up through the woods and towards the main road before coming back down again to the clearing (Time 2). From here, you head out across a footbridge, up a hill (there’s quite a few of them) and across the stile at the top.

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