Blue Runnings

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

Races Under a Tenner

Alex-the-Lion-PixTeller

It’s easy to get carried away with signing up to every race that dangles the promise of a medal and a banana under your nose when you’re running. For 2020 I’m attempting not to spend the same ridiculous amount of money on race entries as I did in 2019 – particularly as I didn’t manage to make it to half of them which stung doubly!

As part of my ‘Shoestring Challenge‘, I’ve set myself a limit of entering only races which are not more than £10 with an Athletics Association membership, and including travel should cost me no more than £15 – I can only go to races further than 18 miles from home if the race entry is proportionally under £10. I’m not likely to be earning many medals, but I’m looking forward to going to many new places!

Below is the list of all the races I have come across in the North-East to date. If I have completed them, either this year or previously, and written a race review this will be hyperlinked with the date, and the race entries where possible will be linked in the race title. Some event links may be to previous year’s – I will update when I find the 2020 information has gone live.

If a cost or date has a (?) after it, this is based on last year’s date/entry fee and will be updated when I find more information – if the price has gone over £10 for 2020, the entry will be deleted from this list.

All Year and FREE

parkrun – 5k – various locations – it wouldn’t really be a list of cheap events without this on here somewhere?! My locals are Blackhill and Gibside

Great Run Local – 5k – various locations – Gibside is the closest to me

Trust 10 – 10k – Cragside, Rothbury  and Ormesby Hall, Middlesbrough (other locations in the country but these are the only one currently in the North-East)

Run Together – various distances – local running groups across the country covering couch to 5k, social runs and training sessions

EXPLORING! There are a huge number of marked up local paths and routes, as well as the opportunity to find your own either by stealing other people’s from hiking sites, discovering your own from Ordnance Survey maps and similar, or just taking that random path you’ve always wondered where it heads off to.

January

8/1       Steel River – 5M – Middlesbrough – Stride Out Athletics – £10

12/1     South Shields Winter Trail Series – 5km – South Shields – RunEatSleep – £6 (on arrival)

26/1     Acklam Grange Trail – 5km – Middlesbrough – Muddy Roads – £5/£7

February

2/2       South Shields Winter Trail Series – 5km – South Shields – RunEatSleep – £6 (on arrival)

17/2     Run Newcastle Valentine’s – 5km – Newcastle – Run Nation – £10

18/2     Pie & Pea Trail – 5km – Trimdon Grange – Muddy Roads – £8/£10

23/2     Holme House Prison Trail – 5km – Stockton-on-Tees – Muddy Roads – £5/£7

March

1/3       South Shields Winter Trail Series – 5km – South Shields – RunEatSleep – £6 (on arrival)

1/3        Run Durham Dalton Park – 5km – Murton – Run Nation – £8

15/3     Brough Law – 8km – Powburn – Northumberland Fell Runners – £5

21/3      Town Moor Cow Bell – 5km – Newcastle – Newcastle University – £5

22/3      South Shields Winter Trail Series – 5km – South Shields – RunEatSleep – £6 (on arrival)

22/3      Saltburn Trail – 5km – Saltburn – Muddy Roads – £5/£7

29/3      Temple Park – 5km – South Shields – RunEatSleep – £7.50

April

22/4     Neptune Relays – 1.7M 4 person relay event – Sedgefield – Sedgefield Harriers – £10ea

22/4     Pine Forest Trail – 5km – Middlesbrough – Muddy Roads – £5/£7

26/4     Terry O’Gara Memorial – 5km – Wallsend – Wallsend Harriers – £9(?) if booked before 31/1

30/4     Cockfield Chase – 7km – Bishop Auckland – Durham Fell Runners – £5

May

9/5       Raby Races – 5km – Raby Castle – Teesdale AC – £10

13/5     Saltburn Trail – 5km – Saltburn – Muddy Roads – £5/£7

23/5     Allendale Fair – 7.5M – Allendale – Allen Valley Striders – £7 pre-booked, £8 on the day

June

2/6        Bolts Law Basher Run – 7M – Weardale – Derwentside Athletics Club – Free

21/6      Windy Gyle – 8.5M – Alwinton – Northumberland Fell Runners – £5

24/6      Pinchinthorpe Trail – 5km – Guisborough – Muddy Roads – £5/£7

28/6      High Force Trail Race – 18km – Forest-In-Teesdale – Durham Fell Runners – £5

28/6      FACT North East Cancer Run – 5km/10km – Swalwell – FACT – £10 for either distance

July (seriously, how many things to do are there in July?!)

5/7        The Cross Fell Race – 24km – Garrigill – Garrigill Community – £8

7/7        Saltwell Harriers – 9km – Stanhope – Saltwell Harriers – £5

9/7        Beacon Hill – 6M – Rothbury – £5

14/7      Chapelfell Top – 7km – Bishop Auckland – Durham Fell Runners – £5

15/7      Lordstones Trail – 5km – Stokesley – Muddy Roads – £5/£7

21/7      Cock Crow – 5km – Hebburn – Jarrow & Hebburn AC – £10

26/7      Temple Memorial Park – 5km – South Shields – RunEatSleep – £7.50

(?)        Castle Eden White Wolf Run – 5km – Peterlee – Run Peterlee – £8(?)

(?)        Willow Miners Trail – 5.3M – Durham – Elvet Striders – £7(?) – 2019

(?)        Bottom’s Up Cup – 5km – Washington – Washington Running Club – £8(?) – 2015, 2016

(?)        Red Kite Trail Race – 8M – Dipton – Derwent Valley Trail Runners – £5(?)

August

19/8     Trimdon Loop Night Trail – 5km – Trimdon Grange – Muddy Roads – £5/£7

29/8     Bellingham Show – 4M – Bellingham – Bellingham Show – £8

September

19/9      Simonside – 11km – Coquetdale – Northumberland Fell Runners – £2 + show entry = £5.50

23/9      Newham Grange Trail – 5km – Coulby Newham – Muddy Runners – £5/£7

October

25/10    Run Northumberland Hexham – 5km – Hexham – Run Nation – £10

25/10    N S Poly Ingram Hills – 9.5km – Ingram – North Shields Poly – £6

(?)        North-East Harrier League starts – various dates and locations throughout the North-East – £2-3 for the whole season – running club members only

November

 

December

6/12      Angus Tait Hexhamshire Hobble – 17km – Allendale – Allen Valley Striders – £8 pre-booked, £9 on the day

13/12    Simonside Cairns – 11M – Rothbury – £8

26/12(?)  Woodlawn Boxing Day Pudding Run – 5km – Whitley Bay – North Shields Poly – £8(?)

Leave a comment »

The Shoestring Challenge

Untitled

November 2019 – I’ve no further races booked in for the year as I’m not doing cross-country this time around. I’ve spent a lot of the last few weeks analysing my spending for much of the year while we get quotes in for a house extension and I try to work out where we’re going to afford it from. It’s time for the cost of my race entries for 2019 to come under scrutiny – something I normally avoid looking at too closely! As many of my races are booked months in advance, it’s easy to forget how much I’m spending sometimes.

I’ve entered 21 races this year ranging from 1 mile (Liverpool Rock ‘n’ Roll) to 14 miles (Trail Outlaws RAF Spadeadam Half). I’ve spent a whopping £454.50 on race entries – average cost per race £21.64. Not including getting to and from them, and in two cases accomodation. To make matters worse, due to injury I haven’t been able to make a lot of the longer or hillier ones. I’ve countered this by booking more shorter ones that were on at similar times. I haven’t been able to defer, transfer entries or get refunds for any I’ve missed. £251 of those races I didn’t even get to which makes the average cost of the events I did get to a massive £41.31- a lot for a 10k. I’m not willing to do this again for 2020.

I’ve set myself a limit of £10 maximum per race entry if I’m wanting to go to races. Race + travel shouldn’t come to more than £15. Generally, £5 will take me a return trip to a race 18 miles from home. I can travel further if the race entry is less than £10.

I’ll be doing a lot of free events like parkrun and Great Run Local, I’m wanting to explore several of the local longer walking routes like the Tyne & Wear Heritage Way in sections, I can marshall events to gain ‘credits’ I can use for others, and I can support my local running clubs at their club-organised races – as long as they’re under £10!

Already, just in looking for races under £10, I’ve come across several particularly trail races I’ve not seen before so I’m really looking forward to trying some new ones I’ve not done! We are so, so lucky in the North-East with the huge amount of organised events right on our doorstep if that’s what keeps your trainers heading out the door.

I’m also going to be keeping a look-out for interesting non-race events like the recently hosted Dusk Run at Wallington Hall which I really enjoyed, and I’ve also run with Anna McNuff this year and 401’s Ben Smith previously. I’ll share them as I come across them on my Facebook page if anyone wants to join 🙂 I’ll likely also be doing a lot of local exploring on my own. I’ve been stalking hiking sites looking for loop routes which I’ve been able to download to my GPS, even if I haven’t figured out how to get them to show on it yet! It’s good to learn new things right?!

I’m going to be over-hauling my website over the next few days to make it easy to find the ‘races for the frugal’ available which I’ve found so far, I may also do something with local loop and ‘official’ walking routes I’ve found, and I’m looking forward to trying some new things over the next 12 months – hopefully for rather less dosh!

3 Comments »

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.

NOVATEK CAMERA

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.

34650437005_5b23e2d998_o

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment »

Sunderland 10k 2017

I last (and first!) ran this race in 2015 when it had a slightly different route starting and finished at the Stadium of Light. It was absolutely bucketing it down and J & I were soaked in our bin bags before we’d even got from the car park to the stadium! It was very quickly clear (or not) that I was wasting my time trying to see with my glasses on, they were pocketed and I saw very little of Sunderland. I remember the grey wall of a battleship thing and the waves crashing over the walls at the seafront at Roker and lots of soggy clothes. J enjoyed it enough to go back again last year, when I opted for donning my Terrible Photographer hat and stalking her and some of the Bounders round the course.

This year, I can happily say that we were onto a winner right from the off in that it wasn’t bucketing it down with rain before we’d even got there. We had some new company in the form of A & G this year and a merry bunch we made on the way into Sunderland.

NOVATEK CAMERA

You got free stuff before the race even started for this one – the race pack included a buff so there were many people wearing them around the course. There was a competition to win a watch for the most inventive donning of said buff; none of us were partaking but I definitely think Ms Rosie was in with a shot 🙂

P1020037

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment »

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…

18056350_1183566258415699_5077277181989538244_o

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment »

North Tyneside 10k – 2017

I missed the Tyneside 10k last year – don’t remember why – but in 2015 when I ran it I achieved my 10k pb and was absolutely over the moon. This year, I know I’m not in the same place fitness-wise (though it is coming back!) and was not expecting to come in anywhere near last time’s 1h2m-something but under 1h10m would have been nice!

There’s a couple of hills near the start of this one – a gentle gradient from the start until descending to the Fish Quay followed by a sharp climb to leave it again! Down to the promenade and the last steep hill takes you up to Tynemouth Priory – then it’s follow the seafront until you find St. Mary’s Lighthouse about 4 miles away.

17951907_493359877454871_5548380957124416720_n

As I was going more for ‘get round’ than for a time, I just focused on staying steady around this one. I’m feeling so tired this weekend I had a ‘maybe I should just drive home again’ moment in the carpark while waiting for the start; within a few paces of starting off though I just told myself ‘you’re moving now, you might as well get on with it until the finish!’ and did exactly that! I’m pleased with how steady my pace came through at – I was just working on getting round without walking even if that meant slowing on the hills, but I haven’t lost much pace with either gradient or distance so I’m taking that as a win. I even managed to pick the pace up to the finish line – ‘are we going to go for it to the finish?’ ‘well, we’re here now so we might as well!’ I spent a possibly unhealthy amount of this race talking to myself in my head…

Map

I was greatly relieved this is a race which always awards a t-shirt – it had been rather windy the whole way round, which is fine when you’re running but gets cold very quickly when you’ve stopped and I had a bus to stand around and wait for! I like the t-shirts this year; 2015’s was a white one with a similar image and the same route map on the back but last year’s was a neon green which tends to split the crowd – some people love bright running gear, others don’t wear it at all; I’ve never worn my marigold yellow t-shirt from my first half marathon at Liverpool just because yellow is not my thing, and I think I’ve worn the neon orange Kielder 10k one from last year only a few times.

P1020031

Mildly warmer with my t-shirt on and not cold enough to consider donning the socks on my hands (it wouldn’t be the first time!), I wandered down to St. Mary’s Lighthouse proper for the obligatory post-run finish line selfie (selfies are something I still haven’t got the hang of).

NOVATEK CAMERA

I really recommend walking down to the lighthouse…not just as a cooldown, but because there’s often a fresh doughnuts van down there and they make an excellent post-run refuel – so if you’re intending to take nothing but your car keys, make sure you stick a few quid in your pocket for some well-earned treats! I’d just like it on record that on this particular occasion, I didn’t eat them all – though I definitely have previous!!!

NOVATEK CAMERA

You might have noticed an unusual addition to my running headwear in the pre-doughnut selfie (and the video file at the top!)…I was recently gifted with a trail cam from my wonderful parents and have been trying it out in the hopes of being able to start producing ‘Runner’s View’ videos of the races I’m going to, but I’m still working on the best way to wear it! Wearing it on my hat is comfortable enough (certainly no worse than my monster headtorch) and gives a high perspective over other runners’ heads if the race is busy – but also makes for a bouncy video! Maybe I’ll try the chest harness next time…watch this space!

GPX data for this race can be downloaded from my Dropbox page below:

GPX file for North Tyneside 10k 2017

Leave a comment »

Run Nation – Cragside 10k 2017

runnation

Well, that’s officially my first race event of the year done (excluding cross-country at Herrington in January)! It’s bang-on 5 months since my last race at Sunderland for the People’s Run 2 Remember last November.

I made the decision a few weeks ago not to do the Trail Outlaws Dark Skies Half Marathon last weekend, as my stamina just wasn’t up to 14 miles and I knew they had a waiting list so I wanted to give someone else the opportunity rather than just deciding not to go on the day. It looks like everyone had a great time, and the weather was a lot kinder than last time I was there, but I think I made the right call for me – I need to work on my 10k game for the moment.

With the Cragside 10k being the week after Dark Skies this year, I hadn’t signed up incase my legs weren’t working after the half marathon, but clearing that from my diary meant this was an option again. I really enjoyed it last year – I was in a really good headspace where I was just going for training run in a fantastic setting and not going for a time; just determined to chill out and enjoy running somewhere I wouldn’t normally – a feeling I was really hoping to replicate this year.

Map

We got there about 08:30, and were probably in the last 15 mins not to be crammed in. After picking up my number, P went back to the car to get my visor for me while I went for the compulsory pre-race pee (!) and said it was chaos. We’d overheard one of the race organisers saying it was busy last year and they had an extra 100 runners this year so it was going to be incredibly tight. Personally, not sure why if you know you’re that tight on parking you take on another 100 people without maybe having a parking backup and shuttle buses or something but I am fortunately not in the position of having to make decisions like that 🙂 If you’re looking at doing this race next year – get there early and carshare if possible to avoid a headache. I got there for number pick-up opening time (about 8am) last year and breezed in – we were about 08:30 ish this morning and it was definitely getting busy. Race start time isn’t until 09:30 so it can be easy to be deceived into thinking you’ve got ages!

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment »

North Eastern Harrier League – Herrington Park Cross Country

photo0101

Grey skies did greet us when we woke in the morn,

The rain already fallen where we soon would sojourn.

We packed up our trail shoes, our spikes and our wellies,

Loaded our bags with sandwiches, wraps and fruit jellies.

To Herrington Park, mis-remembered as flat

Already deep in mud, by the tents we did chat.

Awaiting our times to head off to the start,

Eyeing up all the hills with a faltering heart.

Two loops for the ladies and three for the men,

Over hills, through the woods and the grass-covered fens.

The grass is a bog; on mud and weeds do we slide,

Jumping logs in the wood, ground like glue either side.

More than one lost a shoe, others dignity too,

The race almost as long as the the queue for the loo!

Finish we all did, we all made it round,

Like mud-covered champions to the tents we did bound.

There we ate all the cake, the bakewell tart and the sweets,

Changed out spikes for trainers, donned clean socks on our feet.

Home to fill all the bathtubs with mud from legs and from shoes,

We’ll be clean until Thornley Hall Farm plays its ruse!

photo0106

Leave a comment »

Run 2 Remember Sunderland 2016

cropped-pr2r-long-logo

Run 2 Remember has rolled around again raising money for 4 major military personnel supporting charities. This was high on J’s list of favourite runs last year so it had to make the calendar this year – and they had a raffle and tombola! Who doesn’t love a race where you can win things without even running?

This is the second year we’ve run this one, and it’s setting a trend for sunshine, even if there was a bit of a shower on the way there. 🙂 We also had another friendly face we recognised (we didn’t know anyone except Hippie the photographer and his family last year) in the appearance of R at the start line! J was obviously getting into the zone right from the gathering at the starting banner, and as we started off she shot off looking for ‘space’ and I don’t think actually heard me when I attempted to start a conversation with her as we set off. Ironically after a few hundred yards when I’d just decided to set my own steady pace and leave her to it, I actually had all the space around me, while J 50 yards in front was still in a pack of people. There was the most enormous buzzard overhead on the starting half-mile and J (usually a birdwatcher) was completely oblivious to it.

R caught me up as we reached the bottom of the hill and prepared to set out along the field to the lake, and given how close behind me he finished (we’ll come to that later!) presumably stayed not far behind me for the rest of the race though I was blissfully unaware of this and pootling along in my own little world. I saw The Buzzard, many gulls, swans, ducks and heard something making an odd noise at the bottom end of the lake, though I didn’t see the owner of the little voice…

J was getting an increasing lead by this point – I was waving at her from the other side of the lake as she started her second lap ahead of me – and the irony of doing the same thing the year before when I was finishing my second lap and she was starting hers was not lost upon me! I caught a glimpse of a pink-sided ninja vest as I joined the straight along the field and she was reaching the end of it, and that was it until the finishing straight at the end of the hill! Last year, it was me that was ahead and I must confess to sneaking a walk in on the long hill back up to the finish line, while J (very indignant when she found this out) had kept a steady pace up and managed to make it up the whole thing. I don’t think I’m capable of ever being quite as stubborn as J when it comes to much, but I did decide to myself that I was going to get into the J-zone and repeat her steady all-the-way-round approach of last year and make it up the hill, still pootling along.

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment »

This is my race – and I am equal to it

14523291_10153999365790857_175436375546577034_n

Followers of my Facebook page will know that I have been somewhat absent for several weeks – since the end of August in fact. This has mainly been because I have not been up to much. There would have been several weeks of alternating ‘cycled route 1’ and ‘ran short route 2’ over and over again, combined with me still moaning about the heat and lamenting that the cooler months weren’t here yet. And that gets boring very fast. For me and you both. I also spent the second half of September playing host to a lovely cold bug which still insists on being my constant companion even now – but at least I don’t need to carry around his sidekick Bodyweight-in-Tissues, I just frequently hack and cough in the beautifully elegant way with which I do all things I undertake.

Knowing the Kielder 10k was coming up, about 3 weeks ago I wanted to make sure I was getting comfortable with the 10k distance again, so I headed out hoping to repeat the 7 miles J and I had done from my house down towards Swalwell on the Derwent Walk. I had a nice steady pace of about 10:30-11 min miles I was quite happy with right up until the 5 mile mark when it dropped right off as my shoes started to rub. I don’t know if this is summer adding injury to insult – I’ve had blisters in the same place with three different pairs of trainers and three different styles of socks if I do more than a couple of miles. Guess I just get glamorously sweaty feet! I did make the 10k in an ok-ish summer time so I made my peace with that, and then Mr Cold moved in and I did absolutely nothing at all for the 2 weeks coming up to the race in the deseparate hope he would move out and find a new friend. He seems to have sent all his brothers and sisters out to visit all my friends, but he’s staying for now.

I’ve missed running while I’ve been hosting, and it’s shown in how tetchy I’ve been getting about things at work – it’s been a lot harder to keep things in their boxes and not take things personally. Working at Tesco’s or Starbucks has been looking very tempting sometimes! Or, you know, just being a full-time bum! I think I’m fully qualified already for this position but P says no because blah blah mortgage blah blah money blah blah sensible grown-up boring stuff.

Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment »