Blue Runnings

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

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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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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Washington Bottoms Up Cup 2016

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I was originally down to do the Durham Coastal Half Marathon today, and looking at the photos I am definitely going to be doing this next year as it looks right up my street. This year however I decided I was not fit enough right now to be trying to do a tough terrain half marathon (320 steps and no flat bits!) right now and entered myself in for the Bottoms Up Cup at Washington, which I did in its inaugural year last year and quite enjoyed. It’s a club-run organised by Washington RC, and was well attended this year, with I think 80-ish runners present.

It’s been cold in the mornings all week, and often foggy, so of course today while it started off cloudy it burned off before the race start to a ridiculously sunny day in much the same way it did for the Washington Trail 10k a few weeks ago. I was a little more prepared this morning having actually bothered to check the weather forecast before getting dressed, and determining very rapidly that shorts would be a sensible idea even if I needed a jumper in the morning before the race start.

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I woke up rather earlier than I would have liked this morning dreaming of Dun Niffelem and ice giants (don’t ask) so had my tired head on when I set off with as many trainers in the car as J normally takes when she’s racing! I was wearing my Cascadia trail shoes, having removed all the bits of grit and sand which were stuck in the holes in the insoles and I found last time I wore them for a run with J last week after they gave me a blister from bits of rock rubbing against my feet! I hadn’t completely committed to wearing them so also threw in my other road-running shoes, and a pair of shoes for afterwards. As it happens, I did wear them and they were fine 🙂 Checking my insoles has become a regular part of my pre-run prep…particularly if I’m going more than 10k – I’m always checking for balls of cat hair, cotton buds (presents from said cat) and build-ups of grit and sand which you don’t notice when you first put them on but boy do they start to rub after a mile or two! I don’t normally actually have to check IN the insole though – these were embedded in the little drilled through holes.

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Washington Trail 10k 2016

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I must admit 2016 is not sticking in my mind as being the best for races, but it must also be said that none of it has been down to the races and their organisers themselves! With the exception of the Cragside 10k, not a single one this year has gone to plan for me!

The plan for the Washington Trail, which J and I did last year so I did have some inclining as to what the route and terrain was going to be like, was the same as for Cragside – slow and steady and pootle round going steady regardless of terrain. The WT10k is a moderately hilly course. The problem with this came with the weather – a foggy morning which burnt off around about start time to give 20 degrees of baking sunshine. Heat. I hate heat. I hate doing anything in the heat. You could seriously bake a full English breakfast on my face after about a mile of trying to run in the summer. Ok, I may be exaggerating very slightly. Only slightly though. Point is, me + running + summer do not get along!

J may or may not have noticed, when we were prepping for the GNR last September, I didn’t really do many sociable runs leading up to and pretty much kept to myself. I didn’t go into it at the time but I was really struggling – 5k was a fight which was incredibly demoralising for someone who a few months before was getting comfortable with doing 10M on a weekend. I really worried about getting round. This summer, I’m a bit more prepared in knowing what to expect – I found it a lot harder going out in the summer, but actually was matching my previous Spring pace (even if it didn’t feel like it), and it meant I reaped the benefits when the temperature dropped again. Just gotta get through it to autumn again! A slightly sad countdown when it’s only May and summer’s just beginning…

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Washington Trail 2015 – Trail Outlaws

by Hippie Nixon

by Hippie Nixon

I’ve not done a race specifically organised by the Trail Outlaws before, but they were involved in the Washington running club’s 5k fundraiser event earlier in the year, so I figured I had some small inkling what to expect from this one – some hilly, muddy bits and some footpath tarmac track. I wasn’t far off; the tarmac was mostly absent but there was a good mix of trail paths and woodland track – much more rooty than on the Washington one.

J & I had both read that there were some hills on this course – and they weren’t kidding! It started gentle enough, a long downhill to the river and a flattish short loop out to the main road and back in. Back to the drink and jelly baby station, so far so good, face full of sweeties and a rehydration pause (one has tried glugging from plastic cups while running before and does not wish to repeat the experience!), off we went again – over the bridge and…up. On to a steep road which put us into the woodland section, on a narrow trail with tree-roots which was more technical (read: higher ankle-breaking-potential) than where I usually go, but was really enjoyable and peaceful. It’s been a while since I’ve hit proper woodland trails in a deciduous English wood – and I really could have been back in Surrey running in the woods by my parents’ house.

There were a couple of sneaky very steep but blessedly short slopes in the woods – you either trotted up on your toes knowing you’d slip if you didn’t keep moving, or scramble making use of hands where needed! This took us out the woods and back on the tow paths for a long stretch of flats – very welcome and I only partially filled my face with ripe blackberries on the way through 😉 Another slope at the end to reach the bridge and turn back towards the jelly baby station (so much easier to look forward to than just a water station!). It was a long straight along the river and under the viaduct to our next face-filling point, and by this point we had a lot of space between the runners ahead and behind, so it was wonderfully peaceful being in the shade on a sunny morning by the river. I think I’m going to have to drag P back down this way for a walk in the autumn – it was really pretty 🙂

by CS of the Trail Outlaws

by CS of the Trail Outlaws

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Bottoms Up Cup – Washington

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This was the first race organised by the newly reformed Washington Running Club – who disbanded in the early 1990’s. They’ve been trotting round Washington since September last year and now wanted to take the next step and get some training courses for some of their members. How does a running club fundraise? They organise a run and get all the local runners to pour money into their coiffers 😉 Much like the George Ogle run I did this week, this was also a memorial event – for Stephen Bottoms of the original Washington Running Club, and could run a half marathon in an insane 80 minutes :O This is mindboggling for someone who would be over the moon with 150 minutes!

£5 entry for UA affiliated members and helping another club get further off the ground? What’s not to go for? I can squeeze another race into May…which had a grand total of 1 weekend out of the 5 without at least one race event! I’d posted on the Bounders facebook page that morning asking if anyone else was going – knowing many people were at the Edinburgh Marathon Festival for the weekend and kicking butt doing half and full marathons today while I was doing my measley 3 miles! 4 takers including myself – 2 guys doing photography (I think on behalf of the Trail Outlaws who were also helping with the run organisation?!) and one other runner – a dedicated run england, parkrun and great run local attendee, but this was to be her first race event!

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