Blue Runnings

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

Cheviot Trail Events – Wooler 12M

Units can be confusing things. For example, when I rolled out of bed to do this race this morning I thought I’d read the elevation was 300 feet. It turns out that comment said 300 metres and the actual coarse description says “approx. 1400 feet of rolling, steady ascent” which I probably would have thought was a bit beyond me and sacked in for a day of dillidalliery. As it was, J was booked as official chauffeur and explorer of Wooler so off we went to meet L, who J had managed to somehow sucker into running (which I was very quickly grateful for!).

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As such, what we got was not what I’d set out expecting to pootle along this morning. It started near the coast – we could see Lindisfarne – with a rather major and quickly muddy uphill, and continued in more or less the same path for several miles until we left Kyloe Wood and hit more trail-like surfaces. Pace plans completely out the window very quickly and replaced with concerns of actually making it to the finish in one – albeit very muddy – piece if this was what the whole route was going to be like!

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There were many, many kissing gates (mwah!) and stiles through the woods and fields to slow us down until we reached St Cuthbert’s Cave and started to head out more into the fields and farmland.

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St Cuthbert’s Cave was well worth a quick stop and nosey after we’d nearly gone down through the trees from above it on our bums it was that precarious! I’m definitely going to be dragging P up here on a walk sometime as it was an area that really appealed to me. We met J at the bottom of the hill from it directing runners to the right route rather than the nice downhill one straight ahead, and sent her up to the cave to have a look while she was there – for some reason she went cross-country startling the local deer rather than the main path but each to their own I guess…

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The middle section was miles and miles of undulations and fabulous views. I’m not sure I’ll make it to some of the places again without a car, and my camera doesn’t do justice to the distance stuff, but it was a feast for the eyes when you were up there.

 

Somewhere around mile 9, someone had put the most enormous hill on the planet. Seriously, go check the elevation chart at the bottom, I’ll wait.

Are you back? It was a knee-breaker. Having something like that near the start where you’re vaguely fresh would have been bad enough but near the end, having seen a road sign for Wooler on the flatter road at the bottom and having to carry on up it anyway, was savage 😦

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I really had to walk quite a while across the top of this to get some degree of feeling back into my legs as they’d turned to lead plodding up! The wind still wasn’t easing up either but fortunately the views were still fabulous 🙂

 

The advantage to going slower along here was we actually spotted the route marker to go back down again…which went right down a gorse track rather than the straight ahead route the line of jackets were taking. We must have cut off quite a chunk as the people we saw when we rejoined the road into Wooler everyone came down to had passed us a while before!

Even the last stretch into Wooler for the finish was uphill, as if afraid to break with tradition for this beast of a route, but we made it just about in one piece! I was so grateful to have L’s company on this race as it made even the tough bits doable, and it didn’t feel like we’d only just met that morning – she’s known J for a while through the Running Ninjas.

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I also owe many thanks to J for not only being my driver (I did NOT want to have to drive home after that!) but for even taking me for FOOD on the way back so that I could eat all the things 🙂 This continued into the evening and the jury’s still out on tomorrow morning…

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This wasn’t an expensive race at £12 to enter, much of which I suspect went on the coaches to the start, but I found the lack of aid stations and marshalls (none!) to be very different to what I’m used to at races. There wasn’t a medal or t-shirt which isn’t unusual for the cheaper trail races, but I felt like we’d earned a massive trophy each by the time we got to the end! Check out my flights-of-stairs count on my watch by the end of it!!!

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Endurance Life Challenge: Coastal Trail Series – Bamburgh

A year ago I ran the 10k version of this race and really enjoyed it, so this year I thought I would book the half marathon and use it as a training race as part of my marathon journey. N & P came with me; N to try her hand at the 10k as I had done last year, and P as official driver, hoody holder and finder of food-places for afterwards.

This is the first run I’ve ever done where I seriously thought I was heading for a DNF – ironic for a race series who’s tagline is ‘Never Give Up’. This wasn’t any slight on the race itself. The course was great (more detail to follow) and the marshalls and support from other runners was excellent, but I’m coming to realise how incredibly exhausted training for the Dark Skies run is making me. N & I did a 4 mile route 2 days ago that I’ve done before and felt I flew round, and I just about made it to the end. I was tired after that 20 mile slog on Sunday, no surprises there, but I’ve carried that tired with me all week without being aware of it too consciously when doing day-to-day stuff – including through to today.

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After registering at Bamburgh Castle, one of P and I’s favourite places in the North-East, which was straight-forward enough even if I feel very slightly like a convict or a toddler with my race number written VERY clearly in marker pen on the back of my hand incase I get lost or can’t remember 3 digits for the 10 seconds it takes for me to get my timing chip and paper number. We headed back down to the carpark to sort safety pins and find the coaches which would take us to our start lines. As I was running the half, my coach would leave to take me to my start to head off about an hour before N left Beadnell as I was heading off from further down the coast.

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Great North Run

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A week on and I think my knees have finally found their way home from South Shields! I was a bit stiff on Monday, and more so on Tuesday, but by Wednesday my legs were fine – so of course the machine at work went bang and I finished the week with very stiff arms instead! Ho-hum.

How was it? I hear you cry! This was the first time I’ve done the Great North Run, and it was definitely one I wanted to tick off the bucket list – if I’m going to run in the North-East, I have to have run the Blaydon Races and the Great North Run – I can now say I have survived both! Both were also ridiculously hot and sunny…

I’d surprised J in the car on the way to Leaze’s Park, where Mr J was kindly dropping us off, with a tutu of her very own as I know she has previous for coveting other’s tutus at other races 😛 She was running for the Great North Air Ambulance so was gifted a luminous green tutu, while I was in a black one with gold ribbons for the colours of the Blackhill Bounders.

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We’d opted for leaving all our stuff with Mr J. rather than risking the crush of the baggage buses, so were walking down to the starting corrals as we were intending to run – it was somewhat cold. We joined the compulsory loo queue – fortunately before it got too long, and then found the corrals – or rather, we could see them, but not a clear way to get to them. With them essentially being on the motorway, it wasn’t exactly built for pedestrian access so in true direct style we hopped over the fence and down the slope! I think we must have walked a mile to get to our corral, we were starting from pink – the second to last corral and the start line wasn’t even in sight when we found it. Plenty of screens showing it, no sign of its physical presence!

It was at least heating up, our frozen fingers were a thing of the past as we cautiously sipped our pre-race water not wanting another trip to the portaloos, and praying it wasn’t going to heat up too much more. It had been cooling down nicely through September so of course race day had to be a throwback to a summer scorcher.

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Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon – Liverpool

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Today, I have officially knocked off a major milestone in my running journey! I’ve completed my first half marathon event, and run further than I ever have before 🙂 I entered the Rock ‘n’ Roll series half marathon in Liverpool at the start of the year looking for a big event to help carry me round, and one that was as flat as possible as battling the distance is hard enough! You’ll see on the elevation graph that Liverpool isn’t as flat as I was hoping…there’s a few 50m climbs in there I didn’t see coming, but they were all relatively shallow and fortunately all in the first half so it was almost entirely downhill for the second half! I must admit, a run like this is the best way to see a new city – there was no traffic because the roads were closed for the event, the route was designed to take you past or through the monuments and parks, and I saw far more of it than I would have done had I been walking it! The roads which had caused such baffled vexation yesterday were a breeze on the well-signed and fenced off course today! I’d have been hard pressed to go the wrong way with the number of marshalls too!

My race breakfast consisted of croissants with jam, watermelon and orange juice – nothing too heavy and hopefully a moderate mix of early access sugars and some carbs…and I pinched some cupcake mini muffin things for later. Gotta love somewhere that serves up double chocolate and blueberry mini muffins as part of its breakfast menu! Then I dragged P out of bed and he came with me to find the corrals at the start 🙂 They’d put some weird one way systems in, it turned out where we were going was literally right outside the front door of our hotel, but because we’d gone out the back door we had to walk round three other buildings and a giant ferris wheel to get to them. I have no idea how many people there are, I heard 8000 over the tannoy at the end but I don’t know if that was total runners or just one of the events as they had the full marathon running at the same time, or the whole weekend as they also had a 5k yesterday, and a kids’ one miler today!

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