August Reports

Dovedale Dipper

Sunday 01st August Adela Salt went along to Derbyshire to take part in the Dovedale Dipper. Here is Del's insight into proceedings:

What a fantastic weekend again, doing my favourite two hobbies – sleeping under the stars in the great outdoors, and the freedom of running up hill and down dale in the beautiful English countryside.
This was my second time doing the Dovedale Dipper – a 26.5 mile run that starts and finishes in Hartington, 99% is off road, and there’s an overall ascent of around 4,500 feet. It’s certainly not a run for the fainthearted, and lives up its name as “The Challenge”.
I was a little concerned as to whether I would remember the way this year, but thankfully I am familiar with most of the area, plus the organisers give you a set of directions to follow. The route is also pretty well marked with tape or signs where things could get tricky, and although I did hesitate a couple of times, you can't really get lost.
I won the race last year, but this year an American lady was taking part, and she had the distinct advantage of having some impressive mountain trails to train on where she comes from! Needless to say, she passed me after the first mile or so, leaving me to settle into a comfortable pace with no particular goal except to run quicker than I did last year.
The route really is impressive, taking you across the fields up to the Tissington Trail, before heading off towards Longnor. From here it goes across more fields, and eventually comes out at the top of Warslow near the Manifold Valley. A nice stretch of downhill follows to bring you into Ecton before the climb up the hill. Those of you who have done the Summer Series will be familiar with this hill and we had to get up there after about 15 miles of running. It’s certainly a tough one!
More downhill followed by yet more uphill to Wetton, before heading off across the fields towards Castern at the head of Dovedale. More negotiating of stiles and fields and a few grumpy cows, and we eventually end up at Mill Dale, where we then join the river and follow this back towards Hartington. A nasty hill about a mile or so from home saps the last bit of energy, but then it’s a great 400m downhill to the finish at the village hall.
I finished 2nd lady this year in 3.57 (the winning time was an excellent 3.46) but I was well chuffed to have ran 12 minutes faster than last year, and with that I certainly aren’t going to grumble.
The great thing about this run is that all the checkpoints have loads of food available to nibble on (the one in Wetton even had a BBQ going!) whilst at the finish, Hartington Youth Hostel provides free food for competitors and their families, although you can also make a donation to their named charity.
This really is a fantastic run and one that I would certainly recommend. Whilst I always enjoy the freedom of running alone lost in my own thoughts, it would be great to get a few of the club’s distance runners out next year and make a weekend of it.

Thanks for the report Del, especially as the inbox has been a bit light on mail just lately so I hope others will now follow your lead and make August a Bumper Month for Race Reporting!

Del at the start of the Dipper!


Manchester 5k Sizzler

Thanks Paul for this report:

OK this report is a little late, but better late than never. Back on the 29th July Carl and myself went up to Manchester to take part in the Manchester 5k Sizzler. Finding the start was somewhat difficult, the postcode left us in a cul de sac in the middle of a residential area, and none of the local residents seem to know where the track where the start was, and that included a runner, and what appeared to be the local drunk. After some inspired navigation ie: driving around scratching our heads and wondering where we were, we managed to get to the start in plenty of time for the race.

We actually had more time that we thought, as someone had locked the gate which went across the entance to the park, and was also part of the course. The start was therefore delayed whilst the organisers found a either a key or a hacksaw, I'm not sure which. However it was only 15 minutes late starting, and it was only raining a little bit.

The course itself was very flat and fast, consisting of 500m round the athletics track, then 2 laps round the park, finishing back on the track again. After lecturing Carl on not getting carried away, and starting too fast I promptly ignored my own advice and belted off round the track at a pace which would bring me home in well under 16 minutes. Managing to get myself under control I settled into a reasonable pace, and went through the first mile in 5:18, but paid for the fast start during the next mile which saw me slow to 5:38, and get overtaken by the leading lady. Another half a mile on, and the finish was coming into sight, this helped spur me on, and the 3rd mile went by in 5:30, and a final sprint round the track brought me home in 16:55. Less than 10 seconds slower than last years best, and after missing most of April & May with injury and still only averaging about 25 miles a week through June quite a pleasing result.

Carl continued his improvement to knock a minute off his PB, and had me in his sights for the whole race, finishing with an official time of 17:27, although he is adamant that it was 17:21. It's great to see see so many new faces up the club over the course of 2010, and I look forward ( well kind of) to having to fight for a place in the cross country team over the coming months. Official results for the race are here

Meerbrook 15K

Sunday was the Mickey Mouse race of the area, the Meerbrook 15K. Anyone who has done it (I swore I never would do it again (but I did)) will tell you that it certainly ain't no Mickey Mouse affair. Del Salt has sent us in this one:

Having done my long 20 mile run on Saturday this week, I had an hour easy planned in for Sunday and rather than plodding along the canal on my own, I decided to head over to the Moorlands for the hilly Meerbrook 15km. Now as I keep saying, people who enjoy hills are quite clearly loopy, but then so are people who voluntarily run 62 mile races (!), so I thought that Meerbrook would be the perfect opportunity to decide for myself once and for all who the nutters really are - hill runners or ultra runners.

The effects of a couple of glasses of wine on Saturday night obviously still hadn't worn off if I was thinking I could have an "easy hour run" on this course, and you'd think I'd have known better having done the race twice before. Regardless, I found myself lining up on the start line with a couple of hundred masochists, and with a 3-2-1 we were off.

The plan today was to just relax, aim for 70 minutes, and just enjoy the run. After the first mile, there were still people ahead of me that wouldn't normally be, but I didn't really mind as I knew that if I was any further forward, I would find my competitive streak coming out and I would end up racing. As ever, I struggled up the first hill and several people went past me as I heaved and grunted like a God knows what. A chap from Vale Royal came alongside, and we ended up having a chat as we plodded up that hill. Now normally I would scowl if anybody tried to speak to me in a race (it's usually blokes who use this tactic, asking questions that need a long detailed response which obviously uses oxygen and I end up in oxygen debt, at which point they seize the advantage and disappear), but today it was actually quite nice to have a conversation, admire the views (even if it was as misty as hell), and to talk about past races and how much we enjoyed them. Without realising, we had done a couple of 6.30 miles, our chattering obviously distracting us from the running, and we started to pass some of the runners that had passed us on the hill.

A steep downhill was followed by yet more uphill, and I found that the old legs were starting to complain again. I told my Vale Royal friend to carry on as I would have felt terribly guilty holding him back, and like a true gent, he thanked me for the company and sped off up the hill. This left me to enjoy my own company again and curse myself for opting for yet another hilly training run. With my mind wandering and not focusing on the race, I found myself overtaking 3 runners on the hill, including a lady and 2 Trentham runners (sorry guys - you know who you are!), and then there was only a mile and a half to go to the finish. I even managed a smile and a wave to Bryan Dale (bet he still managed to catch me scowling again!), and shouted thanks to all the injured runners that were out watching on their bikes.

I eventually crossed the finish line in 69.03 so was pleased that I hadn't gone too much faster than planned and felt quite smug that I had managed to discipline myself. There had been loads of brilliant performances today, with new male and female records being set (49 minutes and 56 minutes repectively), whilst our own Sarah Johnson had an excellent run to dip just under 1.01 for 3rd lady. Trentham ladies won the team prize, whilst Chris Mosiuk knocked 9 minutes or something off his previous time for the course which is absolutely bloody marvellous!

It was nice to run at the back for a change and not feel that pressure of having to run hard again. It was great being able to encourage other runners who I wouldn't normally get to see in a race, other than at the start, and to see them achieve their goals.

And the verdict on ultra running or hill running? Difficult to call at the moment so I'll get back to you on that one ;-)

Thanks Del, but if you think that 69 minutes is near the back I think you need to check the results again ;-)

Here they are!!!!


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Staffs Knot 5

Wednesday 11th August saw some members head South West, only about 15 miles though, for the Staffs Knot 5 miler which takes place on Cannock Chase starting and finishing near the visitor centre. Hoping to do this one myself I was unable to attend due to standing in for someone coaching at (of all places) Cannock & Stafford AC.

Many other Trenthamers did manage to make it to the start line though and two of them have kindly sent in these reports. First to arrive on the well worn doormat is from Adela Salt. Many of you will know Adela well, but what you might not know is that she does 37 miles every morning before breakfast as a warm up before the main training session after breakfast and then bathes in fresh tomato juice as a pick-me-up afterwards. Good for the skin apparently ?!?! Anyway, here's her report:

No doubt you are all sick and tired of me sending in race reports for the website, but it would appear that we have a lot of very shy runners at Trentham - either that or they are far too modest to shout about how well they are running at the moment! It was the Staffs Knot 5 mile race on Cannock Chase on Wednesday evening, with ideal conditions for running on what I consider to be quite a good course and potential PB material. The course seems mostly flat/downhill for the first 3 miles or so, but then there is some climbing up to mile 4, before a relatively flat straight finish. Something like 10 or 15 of Team Trentham turned up for the race, and once again there were some fantastic performances from both the ladies and the gents.

Amongst the men, it was another close call between Adam Brearley and Carl Platt, with Adam pipping Carl to the post by just 20 seconds to finish 15th overall, with Carl in 18th. Both ran under 30 mins and both once again came away with a 5 mile PB which is brilliant considering they only joined the club earlier this year, and will surely make the cross country interesting this winter. Sam Newton also had a good run, whilst there were also good runs from Paul Burslem, Daniel Jordan, Stan Winterton, Ken Bloor, Phil Thomas, Alan Lewis and Ken Pearson.

In the ladies race, Trentham dominated with 5 of our ladies finishing in the top 7, which gave them another team prize to add to the team win at Meerbrook at the weekend. Sarah Johnson had a good race to finish just 20 seconds behind the race winner, whilst I did ok to finish 3rd. Jo Donnelly wasn't far behind in 4th, with Chris Holmes in 5th and Deb Thomas showing she is on her way back finishing in 7th place. Rose Wilson also had a good run and came away with 1st place in her age group.

The Staffs Knot is a great summer's evening race in some lovely surrounding, and I'd certainly recommend it to anybody that hasn't done it before. Maybe next year, Trentham will win the ladies and the gents team prize!

Thanks for that great report on proceedings Del. I'm amazed how your grammar has come on since you borrowed that 'Beginners English Level 2' Book from the junior section of Stoke Library.  Ha ha!!!!!
Next one to fall through the mailbox was from Adam 'The Shark' Brearley. Adam is flying at the moment and a certain Mr Yates will have to be on his guard if he is hold on to his position as the club's 'Fastest Runner With Hair'. We all know Adam has been putting in some quality training of late, but what you may not know about Adam is he once represented Malta at the Olympics. His Great Grandfather, born in Malta, qualified him for the 1988 Seoul Olympics when he was just 17 years old. That's where he get's the nickname 'Shark' from. At the time an upcoming good club swimmer he swam in the 400mts freestyle for his adopted country. Unfortunately Adam banged his head on the side of the pool on his 3rd tumble turn and knocked himself out, so he had to be rescued by the officials. You can still find the footage on YouTube. It's hilarious!!!! Anyways, here is Adam's report:

Been a while since my last report so though I would bore the pants off all our members again with this masterpiece…

Travelled up to Cannock with Carl, Christine and Deb, all in high spirits aiming to maintain our recent improvements. Carl having run the race last year gave a bit of an insight and his aim was to beat his previous time. My personal aim was to stay in the top 20 having done so far this year in the Spring trebles and summer series, and also to break 30 minutes all being well.

Firstly was great to see such a great turnout from Trentham. As we set off the pace seemed quite quick, and was glad that I got near the front as the road was quite narrow so overtaking was difficult. Clocked first mile at 5:20, however after about 1 ½ miles about 6 guys came past me, leaving me around 20th. Managed to tag on to the back of this group, and as it split, decided to start trying to pick people off gradually. First 3 miles were clocked at just under 17 minutes, but underestimated how tough 3-4 was going to be. A toughish climb on gravel track was followed by a steep hill heading back towards where we came from. Was flagging a bit at this stage, and my plan of hammering the last mile was out of the window. Was great to see Mark Maloney’s dad, Mike, giving all the trentham team encouragement, and with about ½ mile to go, had managed to gather myself again. The long road to the finish line seemed to last forever, the only clue to where it was, was the guy on the tanoy’s voice getting gradually louder. For the last 2 miles I had hung onto a guy in a yellow vest who kept checking where I was it seemed about every 10 seconds! Unfortunately I didn’t have the final push to take him, coming in 3 seconds behind. Managed to pass a couple on the way in though and was happy with time of 29:25 and 15th overall.

Once Carl had come through around 20 seconds after (great effort mate !) we decided to cheer on the rest of the gang, and amazingly we had 5 ladies in the top 7 !!! Brilliant effort !! And after winning the ladies team award Sarah gave Deb her share of the winnings, which I thought was a real touch of class :-)

Great night overall, only downside was that me and Carl had bad stomachs after stopping for a curry on the way home, but shan't go into detail on that one!!

Well done guys, to everyone who took part on Wednesday, but especially Ultra Del & Fishy Adam for the reports.

Just had another report from Staffs Knot from Debbie Thomas. This report has remained TOP SECRET until now and has only just been de-classified by Whitehall for publication. Actually, for some reason they got lost in the Junk mail, but after Deb's boyfriend Adam beat me senseless I found them!

I’ve never done this race before and now that I’m slowly getting fitter I thought it’s time I grew some courage and began to race again! Having done JCB 5 a month or so ago I was hoping to better that time of 35 mins considering that Staffs Knot 5, so I’d been told, wasn’t as hilly. Myself, Adam Brearley, Christine Holmes and Carl Platt all travelled down together and got there with just over an hour to go.
Not long after we spotted loads of fellow club runners including Paul Burslem, Adela Salt, Jo Donnelly, Sarah Johnson, Sam Newton, Daniel Jordan, Ken Bloor, Stan Winterton, Ken Pearson, Phil Thomas, Alan Lewis and Rosemary Wilson! Not a bad turn out for a Wednesday evening race! Following a mile or so warm up run around the field we headed to the start line from 7.00pm to get into position and also to listen to the race briefing. In the middle of a conversation with Stan and Paul B the gun went off (how rude, I hadn’t finished talking!) and off we travelled down the road before taking a right into the Chase. The first mile involved mostly flat/downhill and trail paths, and having been challenged to get sub-35 by Adam, I was determined to run all the miles under 7 min/mile for as long as possible!! A promise of a drink is worth any pain, ha ha!! Plus I’d challenged him to get sub-30 so the challenge was set for both of us…
Following the course around we continued for the first two to three miles over downhill and flat paths around the Chase and at this point I was averaging 6.40 min/mile pace. I felt stronger than at JCB 5 - thanks to Dale and Richard those track sessions are proving to be working! Moving into the third-fourth mile the course took in two modest climbs (not that it felt easy on the night but we’re not talking Trentham or Hanchurch hilly so in comparison they were not THAT bad!) and I was ‘warned’ by two guys I was beside to take them steady - well I couldn’t have motored up them anyway but the advice was appreciated! I asked them if there were any more after that and luckily the answer came back as “no”. Phew! Over the top of the hills there was just over a mile to go and I was damned if I was going to ease off now! I even managed to pass Speedy Stan on the uphill, though he did say at the finish that he’d tired around half way. The return was similar to the start of the course: flat/downhill. The stretch along the road to the finish line however felt like you were on a treadmill going nowhere fast but thanks to shouts of encouragement from Mike Maloney (Mark’s dad) and fellow Trenthamers who had already finished I managed to scrape under 35 mins with a 34.27 result (the official results however state 34.29 but hey-ho what’s two seconds!!).
Passing through the finish line I was handed a bottle of water and a black hand towel instead of the usual t-shirt; a better idea really as you could use it straight away to wipe your sweaty face and it was handy to drape over shoulders to keep warm when standing yakking at the finish! Heading over to the others I found out that Adam had broken sub-30 and that everyone else had had a really good run. Adam came in at 15th and Carl followed in about 17th – brilliant! Ladies-wise: Sarah was 2nd, Del 3rd, Jo 4th, Christine 5th, me 7th and we had taken the team prize! Rosemary also won her age category too!! I think I might give this little race ago again next year as it’s a really lovely course and very enjoyable

Thanks for the report Deb, great reading, and I do endeavour to make sure every report gets published on the website so if you do send one in and it doesn't appear on the website after a few days just check I have received it before slating me and calling me every name under the sun! Keep sending em in folks.


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Track Time

Paul Gibbings as we know is a Super-vet, not to say he's well old, just that he's a vet and err, well, super! Paul has recently resurrected his track career which has provided a glorious past for Paul. His latest venture was last Wednesday when most were doing the Staffs Knot or worse still, like me, not running at all. here is Paul's report:

I ran my first club track race back when I was 13 or 14 (must have been in black & white. Ed.) It obviously wasn't that impressive, as I can't remember it with any certainty. I think it was at Tidworth. It was the heats of 1500m at a young athletes track meet. I fell over after about 40m, tracks were cinder in those days and I remember it hurt. I managed to catch a couple of runners, but not enough to make the final. However for the next 20 odd years, the majority of my races were run on the track. There was cross county in the winter, and the occasional road race, but I formed a great attraction to the track. I can't say I was that good, but there is just something special about racing on the track.

After a break of 16 or so years, I decided to give these old legs of mine another go on the track, and joined City of Stoke second claim so I could compete in the Midlands Vets league. Unfortunately injury meant I wasn't able to compete in the first 2 meetings, but a few weeks ago I competed in the 1500m at Burton, running 4.37, and although finishing well behind the winner, a "youngster" of 35, managed to win the over 40's.

Last week was the 4th in the series and I went down to Sutton Coldfield for a 3000m. The track is at the same place as where the Midland Road relays are held, so I was able to warm up whilst re-acquainting myself with the course for the 6 stage coming up. The evening itself was quite pleasant, the start of my race was 8.25pm, and it was nice and cool, and most of the wind had died down. Although there were 3 seperate age groups running, we all compted in the same race, as there were only about 15 runners in total. The gun went off, and immediately 2 runners broke clear, I didn't have the pace to go off with them, so settled in with the pack, and after 400m found myself back in 6th place, but feeling fairly comfortable. I stayed there until about 1km, but was feeling pretty good, so picked up the pace, and quickly moved clear of the next 2 runners leaving me in an isolated 4th place. However I was able to reel in the 3rd placed runner over the next couple of laps, and set my sights on a top 2 finish. Until I saw just how far ahead the leader and second place were, so decided to just concentrate on consolidating my 3rd place, and running as fast as I could. The last 2 laps were definitely hard work, and despite trying to sprint the last 200m my final lap was still only 75 seconds. I finished in 3rd place with 10:00.9, which was a disappointment to me, as I was confident that I was capable of running 9:45, but it would have made no difference to the result, as the the first & second placed runners finished in 9:16 & 9:36 respectively. In theory I won the over 40 age group, as the first placed runner was under 40 and the 2nd finisher was over 50. According to the official results I was 3rd in the over 50's with a time of 12:15, but that most probably had something to do with all 3 Stoke runners running with the same number, which might have confused the timekeepers somewhat.

Well done Paul. That's not shoddy at all and please keep us up-to-date with your exploits on the Rubber Merry-go-round. Nice to see you doing so well.

Belper Rugby Rover

Forgive me if I feel slightly under-enthusiastic about this race as this is the one that put paid to my fast running last year and kept me out injured for the best part of 6 months. It is a really lovely course and the scenery is fantastic but plenty of obstacles and terrain to keep you interested.

Del Salt decided to go along (after her training run of course, hee hee) and give it a go and on her return to North Staffordshire has kindly furnished us with this report. Let's be honest, it's a good job she has, otherwise many of the last few races would have gone totally unreported so GREAT work Del. Here it is:

I'm starting to get sick of hearing my own voice at the moment, and with 3 race reports in the past week, I can only apologise that once again it's me using up the web space on the Trentham website. I'm pretty sure that there are many more of our members out there competing in races, and I personally would love to hear about them - if nothing else, it would shut me up!
However, in the absence of such reports, I thought I'd let you know that 3 of Team Trentham headed over to Belper today for the Belper Rugby Rover 30km race. I was meant to have done this race 2 years ago, but never got round to it due to one reason and another, but today I was in great company as I had 2 veterans of the event for company - Deb Thomas and Pete Caci.
An early start from home (I didn't even know 7.15am existed on a Sunday!) saw us arrive in a rather overcast Belper, but perfect conditions for running. Debs and Pete gave a detailed review of the route, and the talk of mud, hills, boulder climbing, crossing streams etc started to make me wonder whether this was really the prep I needed for a 50km road race in a couple of weeks time. But, with this being Debs 3rd time and Pete's 2nd time doing "The Rover", it can't have been that bad - 18.3 ish miles in the lovely Derbyshire countryside, mostly off-road across farmland and through some woodland.

Amazingly there were nearly 300 runners taking part today, and with the number of stiles on route, it's not surprising that the first few miles were somewhat congested with alot of stopping and starting. It wasn't until about mile 3 that things thinned out a bit, and even then there was some queuing in places.
I didn't personally have a goal today, but when I got to about 14 miles and was told I was 6th lady and about 3 1/2 minutes behind the leader, I did pick up the pace just to see if I could catch anybody. The wood section is quite tough and seems to go on forever, but despite the climb through the trees, I found myself actually overtaking people - something unheard of for me! We hit the road section again with about 3 miles still to go, and I could see a lady ahead of me so chased her down and managed to open up a gap. 5 minutes later and I could see another 2 ladies ahead of me which spurred me on to chase them too. I knew the last couple of miles were quite flat, so picked up the pace and managed to catch yet another lady who was actually running quite strongly. By now, I was up in 2nd place, and with just a mile to go, it was unlikely I would catch the leader as I couldn't see her anywhere.

I eventually finished in 2.29 - just under 2 minutes behind the winner who was from North Derbyshire Running Club. I was really pleased as I felt pretty good today, and even on the hills I was feeling much stronger than usual. Having drank about a pint of water and a pint of juice
(was that Tomato Juice?) Ed. (the sun had come out not long after we had started and it actually got very warm!), I went back out on to the course to shout in Debs and Pete. It wasn't too long before they appeared, both looking very relaxed and even smiling, and they had a good strong finish, running just under 2.45 which matched Deb's time from last year - fantastic when you consider the problems she's had this past year with injuries etc.

A beer for Pete, a pint of pear cider for Debs, and a sausage butty and a cup of tea for me, and all 3 of us were raring to go again. It was a fantastic day out, made all the more enjoyable due to great company (thanks Deb and Pete!) and an interesting and challenging route. I'll certainly be back next year, and I'm sure I won't be alone!

Well done to Del, Debs & Pete on completing a very tough race.

Please keep the reports coming in folks. If you have raced PLEASE let us know, you don't have to be in the top 10 to put in a race report and we all like to read different points of views! Here is another point of view, this time from Debbie Thomas:

Only three brave soldiers from Trentham decided to take on this challenging multi-terrain course this year but then 18.5 miles isn’t exactly everyone’s cup of tea! Pete Caci very kindly offered to ferry myself and Del Salt to the race in Belper, nr Matlock, and as the race started at 9.30am, with a course briefing at 9.15am, we had to leave home at the stupidly early time of 7.15am! The journey took about an hour and on arrival we parked up and headed into the rugby club to collect our race numbers and walk around to wake the legs up. Returning to the car we removed some layers before running the first mile or so of the course to warm up. Then we headed back to the clubhouse to wait for the briefing. In the meantime we spotted two other local club runners – Grahame Cope (Uttoxeter) and Pete Sarson (Stafford Harriers) and had a quick chat. After the briefing, which informed us of course hazards and what the course markers looked like (a mixture of red and white ribbon, arrows and signs) we were escorted to the start. At 9.30am on the off we went firstly along the road and around the mini roundabout which helped to separate the mass and then off along the bridge passing the sewerage plant, down the steps and then it was bottleneck!! Due to the steps and stiles the first mile or so is a case of run/walk until everyone starts to get through the obstacles and spread out. This was no bother for me and Pete as we were only ‘running steady’ rather than racing it so we didn’t have to push through. I was wondering how Del was getting on at this point and I hoped she’d managed to get a good start and not get too caught up. We headed out along a path around some fields and then over a couple more stiles before beginning the first big climb over three vertical fields. This is a very steep start and most people tend to walk up so as not to exhaust their legs so early on. Me and Pete managed to plod up the hill without stopping and after climbing over the stile at the top we headed along the path towards the woods, still climbing uphill. The course through the woods is mildly undulating but the path can be rocky in parts and quite eroded so careful footing is needed and concentration! Throughout the rest of the course we took in some road, more trails, fields, and about 50 stiles or so! You can imagine the views we had over Amber Valley as we scaled up the highest parts of the course (captivating) and luckily the weather was sunny spells with a coolish breeze, which really helped as some parts through the fields were quite hot. There were four drinks stops on the course and at each I stopped and drank two cups of water, tipping some over my head too to cool down. Pete was taking on the jelly babies on offer and had kindly carried a bottle of sports drink with him in case we needed it. For the rest of the run we managed to keep going up the hills and keep a nice steady pace going without running too slowly or too fast. Some parts we did have to stop and wait for others to get over the stiles but this allowed time to catch your breath and take on a sip of sports drink. There was good comradeship with the other runners too as we all joked about the obstacles we had to endure (“why are they making us do this?!!” and “I’d be winning if we didn’t have to jump so many gates!”) Within the last five miles Pete had spotted two ladies runners in front and he tried to encourage me to get past them. Despite my protests (“there’s five miles to go yet Pete!” “I’m not bothered!”) I managed to get past them and keep in front. Coming back into the last couple of miles you run back through the first two miles or so of the course, except for going around the roundabout again, and back up the steps (thigh killers at this point) up the small hill to the main road, along the road and into the field behind the rugby club. Del was positioned on the main road giving us a yell in and we eventually clocked 2.45.47 (same time as last year) – and collapsed onto the grass! Refreshments of juice and orange segments were provided at the end and a t-shirt was awarded to all. Del had had a brilliant run to finish in 2.29 and 2nd lady and I’d managed to get 10th lady. Had we had another female runner, or as Del suggested we put a wig on Pete, we would have claimed the ladies team prize! After a shower and some food and drink we waited for the presentation, which they had taken outside as most people were sat in the sunshine, and Del was able to collect her prize; a carrier bag filled with various goodies including a mini torch keyring, sweets, camping kit…. Unusual but unique! Then it was a stiffed-leg walk back to the car and back home. This is a brilliant race that I’d recommend to anyone who’s nuts enough!! Massive well done to Del and Pete too!!

Keep On Running!!!!!


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Ken Pearson's Update

Thanks must go to Ken Pearson for keeping us up-t0-date with his recent(ish) races. Ken, battling to win group 'F'  in the NSRRA has kindly sent in reports from the Meerbrook 15 and the Staffs Knot 5 and here they are:

What happened to the weather?? It was supposed to be dry and clear, not drizzle and low cloud.
I have only raced this one before and it was so far back I cant remember the course. Last time I drove up the hill and had a look at the view as well as the course so I knew what to expect. This time the low cloud was in the way and you couldn’t see the top so I warmed up by running to the start of the hill. I had decided to run at 8 minute miles on average so it was a bit concerning to see the first kilometre mark! So 5 minutes per kilometre is the aim but the hills and the opposition would dictate the pace.

The usual search for the F runners didn’t reveal too many but unfortunately they were the other front runners. The other target for the day was Rose as we are close at the top of the Trentham road series. Rose didn’t threaten me with violence for a change! The start was a bit of a mess for me, I should have got nearer the front but didn’t and missed the other group runners and Rose. The first part of the race is on a narrow farm track with a couple of cattle grids covered with plywood even though its busy there’s no problem getting past other runners.  First km in 5 minutes so that’s ok but no sign of the targets so I’m too slow or they got away at the start.  As we go towards the (first) hill I can see Gerry Calvert and Graham in front and I pass them by the top of the hill. Pity the cloud is low and it looks like a scifi film at the top of the hill. Small figures appear from the mist with sponges, “Village of the Damned” springs to mind Down the other side and I see Rose and Darren in front by 100 metres or so. A bit too far really and I should have started nearer the front.

Along the course I remember parts of the road and the houses at the side from the previous time. At the sharp bend and the steep rise Darren slows and I close up a bit, that hill is steep though. I’m now thinking I can catch them but over the next few kms but even with a bit of effort I stay the same distance behind them and that’s a bit disappointing. A few more runners catch me as we get past 10kms, but Rose and Darren stay too far in front. My hamstring is ok now but I don’t really want to push too hard down the hill, better to be 2nd than not finish and miss the remaining races. At JCB I ran well up the hills and took it relatively easy down the hills to protect the injury. In training last Tuesday we did Walters lovely route which was hilly so I used that for hill training and tried a few fast runs downhill with no ill effect on the leg. So its time to make an effort up the last hill at about 12km and I close up a bit but its hard work. Over the top and Darren is a bit closer but probably still too far in front.

I decide that its all or nothing on the downhill so I up the pace and reel in Darren. 1k to go and I’ve caught him but its hard work and he does his usual trick of upping his pace as I catch him. A bit more effort and I manage to stay with him. It is hard work keeping up with him and I’ve probably gone too early. We are only a couple of yards apart but the finish isn’t in sight but we round the bend and there it is but Darren starts to pull away again. 50 to go and I think he’s beaten me but I decide to go all out and I pass him with a few yards to go. Do I feel sorry for him as he’s led for 14990m? Not at all, this is all about points not race times. Rose must have had a good downhill as I never got anywhere near her and she’s already having a drink at the finish.

Not sure how the others did but Eva and Chris had good runs. Rose won the ladies over 50 prize or was it the distinctive lady in black with the very short hair??  Well done to the ladies team who won and well done to me for another first in group!   

So that was from the Meerbrook 15k and this one is from the Staffs Knot 5:

Monday my legs were fine but Tuesday morning they wouldn’t work properly, lots of stiffness and aches. Tuesday training was at a relaxed pace with Eva and we compared aches and pains. Maybe we ran a bit too far with another race on Wednesday but it was an enjoyable run anyway.

As with most races I’ve not run this one for years so I hadn’t a clue where the course went or what the course was like. The usual chat with the Trentham contingent and I warm up with a run with Rose. I ask Mick Hall how the Kenyans got to race at Meerbrook and he said by car!! More discussion with the F group lot about aching muscles and who has or hasn’t turned up. After messing up the start at Meerbrook I decided to start nearer the front so I work my way nearer to the front. The 3 most likely to win the group have a laugh as we all start together relatively near to the front but I have half an eye on Rose who is just to my right.

Despite a few aches I seem to get off quite well and keep up with Darren with Rose just behind. I’m in front at 1 mile but they both come past. Hope that’s not a sign of how the rest of the race will go. As at JCB I go up the inclines quite well and after we all swap places a few more times I’m in front of them both by 3 miles.  Despite the Meerbrook effort my legs are OK and I keep the pace up and don’t dare look back. At 4 miles a few runners come past but I pass a few as well, legs are still Ok but a few doubts start to creep in. I manage to put in a bit more effort up the hills and keep up with the runners around me but I still daren’t look back. I know where we are on the course now and I know the rest of the course so I can pace myself for the last half mile or so.

The last tarmac road seems endless and I have another runner in front who I aim to beat so the pace doesn’t drop off. I still don’t look back and finish in just under 37 minutes. Through the finish and the runners are given a memento of an embroidered towel! Nice change from a T-shirt and no one-in one-out rules apply!

I have to wait a while for the next F group runner and for Rose so that’s a good run. Its made better as Darren is 3rd in the group and Rose is a minute behind me. Looks good for F group!

I don’t usually have many emotions after races but despite being apprehensive about the pain of racing compared to just running round, I’m actually starting to like the buzz of racing and for the first time ever I’m actually looking forward to the Leek Half marathon!!

Ken in action at Meerbrook - Note the pain !!!!


Stephen Burrowes' Update

Stephen Burrowes who is training for the Berlin Marathon in a few weeks time has kindly kept us up-to-date with his training progress during the last few weeks, which included the Meerbrook 15K and the Leek Half. Not flat then????
Stephen is looking to improve his Marathon Performance once again and is taking his training very seriously, often found running laps of Northwood Stadium on a Thursday. Not bad for the former 'Goombay Dance Band' Front man. Ahhhhh, who could forget the classic 'Seven Tears'? What a track, Anyway, here is Stephen's update:

Well it’s been a busy few weeks. I’ve been building up mileage and trying to make sure of long run most weeks to try to prepare for the Berlin Marathon having missed quite a bit of time earlier in the year.  As a cunning plan to completely exhaust myself and get my body used to running whilst tired, I’ve ‘raced’ the last 3 weekends whilst still putting in the long runs.

Meerbrook and its hills were just as much masochistic fun as I remembered from last year. In previous years I’ve had a sneaky walk just before reaching the top to return back to Meerbrook. This has had the advantage of meaning that I don’t look totally burnt out when Bryan takes his photograph and this year I ran it. It was a good downhill return this year too and I overtook a few people and held off a few others. Overall I was pretty pleased to be finishing close to last year’s time.

Next outing was the Scott and Gault 10m road race a week later in Ireland where I was visiting my Dad. I’d not eased up during the week and had a good/hard session at the track on the Thursday. By the time the race started it was a hot sunny day and the hilly lanes were hard work. I don’t know what was going through my mind when I set off at a pb beating pace and needless to say within a couple of miles my legs felt as heavy as lead. By 3 miles I was wishing it was a 5-mile race and the prospect of doing 2 laps of this surprising hilly course was not very appealing. Still I battled through the fatigue and did finish slightly ahead of Dad’s very competitive next-door neighbour.

Returning from Ireland, I enjoyed a slow 20m around Loggerheads on Thursday as preparation for the Leek Half and some of you may have spotted the flaw in this plan! 1:51:24 after the start the flaw was crystal clear to me too. Still, doing those hills on jaded legs has got to have hardened me up for the marathon in 5 weeks time. One of the marshals just before of the start of the descent from the Roaches commented that I was in for an easy bit next. I looked at how steep the hill was and almost screamed, certainly my muscles and knee joints did on their way down. Congratulations to all the other Trentham runners doing this race, particularly Terry who set off at a good pace ahead of me and kept it up right to the bitter end and Rose, both of whom showed their fellow vets how it should be done.

For those of you who'd like to Stephen in action you can see one of his old videos HERE. Obviously Stephen is the one on the right!

Leek Half

Sunday 22nd August was the day of the 2010 Leek Half and amongst only a hand full of Trentham runners to venture up past The Roaches were Ken Pearson & Daniel Jordan who have kindly sent in these reports.

First one is from Ken who is involved in an epic battle at the summit of group F in the North Staffs Road Runners series:

Everyone knows how hard the Leek half is and the fact that very few Trentham stalwarts ran it this year proves the point. They reckon its 5 or 6 minutes slower than a flat half marathon but the views make up for the extra effort providing the weather is ok.

It’s a bright sunny day and for probably only the second time this year the sun tan lotion comes out of its hiding place in my bag.  I like the Leek half start at the sports centre, its quite relaxed and a downhill start from the gate. The t-shirt is much better than the last one I got at Leek which was plastered with sponsorship from the Samaritans. Leek is hilly but as Walter says you actually run uphill more than you go downhill as the finish is higher up than the start. I guess as I do more races I bump into more people and its more of a social experience than a stressful race start. Pre race discussions are about times and hills, is it hillier than Potters Arf and are the hills as bad as we remember them?

Walter takes the team photo and we amble to the start. This is my 11th race of the NSRRA series so its not too important to run hard, but just to get a decent result. Terry is hoping for the same time as Potters, I’m aiming for 1:50. Kiri and I start near the front and we are off down the hill. Nice to start downhill but as the first 3 miles form the last 3 miles any nice downs become ups towards the finish.  I drove the Leek to Meerbrook road a couple of weeks ago but it seems much steeper on foot. I also don’t remember it being as up and down. I run a few yards behind Darren who is in the lead of group F and Colin who I ran most of Potter Arf with. We don’t talk as much as usual which is probably a sign of a hard course. It’s a nice run down to Meerbrook and the first drinks station, it’s a warm day so I grab a drink. The next part is uphill, Darren is still in front but Colin has dropped back and we reach the Buxton road. Nice bit of down hill but I’m stuck behind a runner who seems to go well uphill but slows downhill so I lose a bit of ground to Darren.
As we turn off the main road the road goes vertical and I slow down, I don’t remember this race being so hard. Another few hundred yards and its nice running at the back of the Roaches, although its uphill its not too bad and we get to the top of the climb. I have made a bit of ground on Darren but Steve, who won a few races early on, but hasn’t done too well recently comes past, which is a bit of a surprise. I stay with him for a while but he is just that bit faster. Walter is there with his camera and I try to look a bit more alive than usual for the photos.
I’m feeling weary at the top and we turn sharp left and go down the hill to Meerbrook, it’s a bit too steep to go too fast but it’s a nice change from “up”. I run OK down the hill and on the way to Meerbrook I’m reminded by the “quick up, slow down “ runner, that the winner will have just finished and we have half an hour to go. I’m getting tired and thirsty and actually stop for a drink at 9 miles and grab a sponge. I feel better but the start of the last 3 miles is uphill and it’s a bit of a struggle and a few runners start to come past. Darren is well in front and Steve out of sight. Maybe I can catch Darren as I can usually go up the hills better than him. I feel Ok between 11 and 12 and gain a bit of ground on Darren, down the last bank and I feel I can maybe catch Darren but he puts on a spurt and I am resigned to finishing behind him. I turn the last corner and the hill is in front and it seems much steeper than when we ran down it. I’m running slowly but walk a bit before the 13 mile mark, I get encouragement from Ken Rushton and run again but slowly. At last the finish is in sight and the clock is showing around 1:53:45 so I shuffle a bit faster and go through the finish in 1:54.

That was hard and I have to have a few drinks at the end. Terry was well in front and I go to congratulate Steve and Darren who were first and second in the group. One of my work colleagues who runs with Potter Trotters is by the finish so I have a chat with her and find she got round in 1: 35!

I see Rose and she was not far behind me at the finish. We aren’t sure whether the race is part of the Trentham series and if it is I guess she has done better than me. Kiri appears and she has managed 2:02!

So, the race was hard but the scenery was very nice and I was a bit disappointed with the time and the result. Not surprising really after the last two good races. On the plus side a 3rd is good and I still have 3 races left to do.  The group placings are getting interesting now. If Steve wins the last 4 races he ends up with 590 points, so that’s the target I have to beat. I have 541 after 11 races so I need a win or two seconds. No pressure!!

 Thanks for that Ken. Good effort on a very hard course.
Our next report is from Daniel Jordan (who I can't remember submitting one before) so a very nice change to have some fresh handwriting appear on the doormat.
Here it is then:

The Leek Half was a very tough race, similar to Meerbrook, just further! Talking to the large turnout for Trentham afterwards, most of us were 4-6 mins slower than at Potters. It was also quite a warm, sunny day, perfect for sitting in the garden or watching cricket, but not for running up to the Roaches. I started near the front, behind Chris and Ken Bloor, and we went off relatively fast down the hill, and then relatively slow up the long hill! I took it easy on the hills, opening up on the downs and trying to push on when on the (rare) flats. By the time of getting up to the Roaches and trying to give Walter a smile at 7 miles I was at a rather slow 8 min pace overall, so I really wanted to push on. Kept it going well on the undulating road alongside the Roaches, took it easy on the first, very steep part of the descent and then opened up and got going really quick down the hills and undulations to Meerbrook. Was pushing on here and having a great duel with a runner from Congleton Harriers who I had targeted from about 5 miles. Going fast up the slow incline from Meerbrook, kept going with my duel which pushed both of us on well (We must have passed about 10-12 runners between the Roaches and the end). Nice fast run down to the outskirts of Leek, then that horrible last quarter of a mile up the hill to the finish. I certainly didn’t have a sprint left today, but I’d managed to keep enough of a lead from the downhill to just pip the Harrier by a few seconds. All in all quite pleased with the run. I perhaps went too slowly for the first half, but that left me with plenty in the tank and I really enjoyed the second half and did some really good split times, finished in 1:40:44. Now to watch the cricket

Hmmm, after a good run at Leek perhaps best to not think about the cricket too much, well, not the 3rd test anyway. If you also did the Leek Half then it's not too late to get you report in, but try not to leave it a week!

In the meantime here are the results: HERE!


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Birchwood 10K

On Sunday whilst many (well a few) of you were busy struggling up past The Roaches on the Leek Half, or in my case having a lie in, our very own part-time life guard, part-time care nurse, jazz musician, and pig farmer Sarah Johnson set off for the Birchwood 10K near Warrington. Here is her epic story...........

HI, I did a race at the weekend where I didn't see any other Trentham runners so can't rely on someone else writing one for once
Anyway, whilst several Trentham runners were out trying to flatten the hills at Leek I went to Birchwood 10k which is 'fast and flat' with a high quality field. To put into perspective Michelle Ross-Cope was third lady last year and Hatti Dean (who you may have seen do the steeplechase at Barcelona) was 5th lady so I went hoping to get a good time but didn't expect any prizes.
I didn't recognise many runners but did see Moorlands Matt Clowes for about 2 seconds at the start presumably also chasing a fast time( later learned he got 31.30 but was still 50seconds behind the overall winner!) Ben Fish.
The race has a crowded start but there is chip timing so there wasn't the pushing and shoving and jumping over people that you get at Alsager 5. However it was marked in k not miles which threw all my min/mile splits out the window - beginners mistake! So I found myself running a very rapid 2k and at 3k felt awful. Also, with it being out the area I couldn't recognise anyone to pace myself with either but just started counting down to the finish.
At 2k Andi Jones pulled out and he looked like he was limping so hopefully its nothing too serious and this also gave me encouragement to carry on as I wasn't actually injured and if I was I would hate to be on the sidelines.
At about 6k I felt a bit better and started reeling a few people in but, having checked my split times since, the truth is I didn't really speed up at all :-/ Anyway I got to the finish with a distinct lack of a fast finish - as my brother put it- 'why didn't you speed up like everyone else at the finish?'. I think I said something along the lines of would you like me to throw up on you.. but I did get a bunch of flowers, 10 second pb and amazingly got 4th lady which was more just luck really. Anyway, it was worth the trip and if anyone fancies a accurate flat 10k course which is A LOT easier that Leek I would recommend it, it takes about 50mins travel but has chip timing without being more expensive than usual and a towel instead of another race T-shirt!

I'm pretty sure Sarah is doing herself a disservice saying she was lucky to get 4th place. Congratulations to her on a new PB and a great effort in what I know to be a VERY competitive race. WELL DONE Sarah!!!!!

If you'd like to check on the results HERE they are!

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Apedale Orienteering

This weekend saw an orienteering event take place which should stand those who manage to get lost on The Dales Dash in good stead later in the year. (Jo, Ryan & Sarah know what I mean). Debbie Thomas and her lovely boyfriend Adam (known as Sharky to his mates) went along to check it out:

Having been meaning to do this event for the past couple of years (there is also an 8km race in February too) I managed to persuade my super speedy and lovely boyfriend Adam Brearley to enter with me and to work as a pair to orienteer our way around the course without missing any check points. The race started at 3.45pm on Saturday afternoon from outside the visitor centre at Apedale Country Park, and despite there only being about 25 runners (some running alone and others in pairs/teams) there was a really good atmosphere and everyone was quite excited to get going. After being handed a map and pencils and being given guidance about parts of the course that might be a bit muddy etc, the first runner was sent off at 3.45pm with the next runner being sent off in the opposite direction 2 mins after, and so on and so on. Mine and Adam’s time to start was 3.58pm and we were sent off in a ‘clockwise’ direction which meant running back along the main drive into the park.

The aim of the race is to get around the course in the shortest time and in the shortest distance (5km) without missing out any check points and noting the correct codes down. Our lack of experience at orienteering was immediately obvious when we spent a good 4 mins running all the way back up to the main entrance and then realising that we’d gone too far and had to back track as we’d misread the map!! Finding the first check point (a wooden stake in the ground about waist high with a red and white square on with a number) was particularly tricky as we didn’t even know at that point what we were looking for! However we soon spotted it, noted down the number and then set about locating the second check point, running through the woods. Number 2 was found more easily but finding the third again proved tricky as we were half way up climbing a huge hill before realising we were going the wrong way, again!! Frustrated, Adam then decided that this was my fault and even though he had the map in his hand, apparently I “should have known” instinctively we were going the wrong way…

 Anyways, managing to resist the desire to shove him into the nearest prickly bush, we carried on and soon spotted the third check point, at which time we stopped and made sure we knew where we were on the map, and proceeded to make our way to number 4. This was hidden in some trees in a ditch and now we felt a little boost as we knew then we were starting to get things right. Points 5 and 6 were found more easily and we were making good time too. Heading over into some parts of the country park we’d never ever been to before (around some small ponds/lakes) we set about trying to find number 7. This check point was really difficult to locate as there were lots of paths and junctions and it was really difficult to see which one you were on. We were also soon joined by some others trying to find the same check point so it was a case of picking a path and following it to see where it led. After about 15 mins of hunting Adam managed to find it so we sneakily left the others to it and tried to find number 8. Again we struggled to find this straight away but with a little help from another racer (our mate Steve from Bournes!) we found it and then worked our way out of the woods to head onto the main path which would led us back to the finish. The 10th check point was on a gate post so was easier to find. We ran back into the finish with Steve alongside, and clocked about 1 hr 12 mins, and a total 4.66 miles!!

After getting cleaned up and changed we headed back to the start of the race with our packet of lamb kebabs and popped them onto the barbeque. This was part and parcel of the event and was a really nice touch; take your own food and use the barbeque! Soon after the final runners had finished, the presentation took place. The wining couple had managed to get around in 47 mins (!) and surprisingly me and Adam had made 2nd place! We were awarded a ‘race pack’ of High5 products and some Adidas trainer socks, which was a great prize. And our mate Steve, though he apparently ran the 5km course in a slower time than he had the 8km and had points deducted for writing down a wrong number, overall he was third!!

We’d definitely recommend this race, at both times of the year, as it was great fun and a challenge to try to navigate your own race and get back first (and not argue all the way round ha ha!!)

Thanks for that Deb. Sounds like great fun! Well done to you and Adam on coming second. Not sure I can endorse the Lamb Kebabs though!!!

The Welsh 3000

No this is not the given name of 3000 wrongly imprisoned Cardiff & Swansea townsfolk, but rather a more frightening prospect as Dale Colclough will explain:

I haven’t raced much just lately although I did take part in the Cheadle vets cross country last Wednesday as a one man Trentham Team. ( I finished 7th but the team was disqualified )..

Anyway my reason for lack of racing (and reporting) is that I have been training hard for an ultra Challenge on the 4th September. ( The JNC Challenge 48miles and 17,000ft of Lakeland fells in under 12 hours)

As part of my training I went along in the company of four other Fell runner types to have a crack at the Welsh 3,000s. You may know it but if not here’s a brief outline

    · Walk up to the top of Snowdon. ( This is where the challenge start !!! )
    · Run the first three peaks down to the road above Nant Peris. ( Take on food and drink)
    · Run the six peaks of the Glyder section to Llyn Ogwen where you can take on more food and drink.
    · Run the remaining seven peaks of the Carnedd section to the finish point, Foel Fras (the final summit).
    · Drop back down to your pickup point at Bwlch y Ddeufaen, or above Abergwyngregyn.

Snowdon Massif
Snowdon / Yr Wyddfa (1,085 m)
Garnedd Ugain / Crib y Ddysgl (1,065 m)
Crib Goch (923 m)

Elidir Fawr (924 m)
Y Garn (947 m)
Glyder Fawr (999 m)
Castell y Gwynt (972m) — if included
Glyder Fach (994 m)
Tryfan (918 m)

Pen yr Ole Wen (978 m)
Carnedd Dafydd (1,044 m)
Carnedd Llewelyn (1,064 m)
Yr Elen (962 m)
Foel Grach (976 m)
Garnedd Uchaf (926 m) — if included
Foel-fras (942 m)

If you are not familiar with the route and wish to know more take a look at this web site via the link
Having set off from the summit of Snowden in thick cloud we quickly picked off Garnedd Ugain and then faced the challenge of Crib Goch. If you haven’t a head for heights this isn’t a place for you. As we picked our way across the sharp pinnacle George reminded me that one of his friends fell to his death of this ridge and it is a regular mountain rescue hot spot. Any way the cloud cleared and we got safely across the ridge and then ran down a very steep scree slope in to the valley before dropping a further 1000ft down to Nant Peris ( the first road crossing) Den was waiting with a car full of spare kit, food and drink. A five minute break and off we set up the 3,000 ft climb of Elidir Fawr. The sun was out now and it was getting warm, but on reaching the summit the views were magnificent. The Glyers are joined up by a long ridge so lots of chance to run to begin with until you reach the boulder field plateau of Glyder Fawr & Glyder Fach. Then a scramble down of Fach and a vertical rocky climb up the famous welsh mountain Tryfan. Another steep decent leads down to the second road crossing at Ogwyn cottage. Den was waiting with another supply of food and drink and a change of clothes.

We had been going for about five hours by now so a 10min break was well deserved. Then it was on to the Carneddau range. The first climb up Pen yr Ole Wen is the steepest continous accent in wales It seems almost vertical for 3,000ft. On reaching the summit we were then treated to the most magnificent views of the Coast line out across Anglsey and the Snowden Massif. No time for sight seeing though as we were on a mission to get back in a respectable time and there were still 6 summits to pick off. The Carnedd range is linked by good ridges so although there is still lots of climbing the grassy summits are very runnable.
We finally reached Foel Fras at 6.20pm 8hrs 45mins and 24miles after leaving the summit of Snowden and 10hrs after we had set out. It still wasn’t over though as we had to find our way back to the Aber, which was 5miles away over very rough ground, where Den was waiting with the car and much needed food and drink.
A very enjoyable and memorable day out ( one of the best ). My companions on the journey were - Jon Wilock and Antony Bethel (SMAC) Geoff Pettingel ( Mow Cop Runners) and George Bate ( Fell Ponies). Let me know if you fancy a crack as we are planning another assault next year. Ps The record stands at an amazing 4hrs 19mins ( almost unbelievable )

Snowdon & Crib Goch.

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Fleetwood Marathon (& Half)

Dave Piper and Lee Jones travelled up to West Lancashire on Sunday to take part in the Fleetwood Marathon & Half Marathon respectively. Dave has kindly sent in this report entitled 'Sandstorm In The Kalahari':

Eyes half-closed, we stumbled on, hands stretched out against the swirling gusts of sand.  As far as the eye could see, full grown men staggered, half-bent against the gale.  Our pace had dropped now, feet slipping on the drifts, as we desperately tried to make out what lay ahead. Dry gorse branches whipped in the wind, half-seen against the blasting sand.  It was everywhere.  Miniature hailstones, whipping against the skin.  Filling nostrils and ears.  Out to sea, the gulls laughed. 
It had started out as any other Raceday – dull, overcast, a promise of rain in the offing.  Lee and I stood shivering on the prom, waiting for the downpour to start.  “Fleetwood Marathon,” I thought, “well, we should’ve expected rain at the seaside.”  But the rain never came. Instead, the Marine Hall exploded, and for a split second the world turned inside out.  When the buildings and runners turned right way up again, we realised it wasn’t a bomb after all.  Merely the Lord Mayor firing the starting pistol.  No warning.  No countdown.  Just “BANG” right in our ears.  But at least we were off, a small field of runners, intent to show what we were made of on the flattest marathon course since Blackpool. 
The first four miles were fine – sky clearing to a summer blue, the sun warm on the skin, and Lee just a hundred yards ahead.  “If I wasn’t doing 26 miles,” I thought to myself “I’d ’ave ’im on toast.”  Yeah, right.  Dream on Dave!  Still, four miles of running through the backstreets of suburban Fleetwood.  Flat.  Warm.  Convivial.  I even toyed with the idea of stopping off for an ice-cream once the shops opened.   

Then, as we turned the final corner of the town loop, back along the seafront, the scene changed.  The curtain crashed down on Fleetwood, the wind blowing in the Kalahari Sandstorm scene. We braved the gale and flying sand for a few miles, turning inland with a sigh of relief at 10 miles.  Lee swanned off to the left for the last 3 of his Half (getting a PB, by 1 minute, despite the tough conditions!) and I meandered rightwards on the Marathon course.  Ho hum, only 16 left – not even halfway!  I asked a guy just ahead of me, “Is it just me, or did all the sane people turn left just now?”  He grinned, and shoved more straws in his hair. 
From there to mile 16 was fine.  Beautiful day.  Gulls wailing out to sea.  The sound of breakers crashing on the rocks, and knocking the kite-surfers for six.  Why DO they wear swim shorts over their wetsuits, anyway?  I got chatting with a New Zealander, up from London, also doing his first marathon.  Turns out he’d gone to see the Blackpool Illuminations the night before – but they’d been turned off.  Murphy’s Law… but at least the wind was diagonally across us, giving us an extra push every now and again.  Mile 16 saw us downing jelly babies and chlorinated tap water – the sweetest taste ever after the sand and salt of the prom!  
And that’s where disaster struck.  From there, we were running back, along the top of the cliffs.  Against the wind, not with it.  We were blown from one side of the path to the other, leaning like sailing boats just to stay upright.  And no more water for 5 miles.  At one point, the marshals breezily pointed down the cliffs – “Just down there, do a loop and back up again” they grinned.  “Are they being serious?” the girl behind me muttered.  They were. By mile 22, there were about fifteen of us walking… a minute of running against the wind left you shaking. 
Things finally picked up after mile 24, as we turned inland again, with heartfelt cheers and sighs of relief.  Then just a joint-pounding two miles along the old, pitted tarmac, and Fleetwood’s Marine Hall loomed on the skyline.  Lee, getting himself a reputation as a morale-booster (perish the thought!  A Trentham Runner, handing out gratuitous encouragement?!), was there at the final turn.  His words rang in my ears as I entered the home straight into the Marine Hall gardens… although with all the sand already in them, I sadly couldn’t tell you what he said.  Knowing he was watching, though, I sprinted the last few hundred yards (well, jogged a tiny bit faster, anyway).  It worked.  I’d crossed the line with half a minute to spare, just under four hours. 
After that, anything else seems a bit of an anti-climax, so I’ll wrap up with just three observations.  First, Fleetwood’s the only race I’ve done where the First Aid at the end offers eye washes to get the sand out.  Second, there is nothing better than being handed jelly babies at a water station.  Third, there is nothing, nothing at all, like having a fellow Trenthamite waiting for you at the finish.  Without Lee, his support, encouragement, and knowing the grief he’d give me if I quit, I’d have dropped out at about 22 miles.  Thanks, mate!

Thanks for the report Dave and congratulations on completing such a gruelling challenge. Sounds like it could have been a very enjoyable experience if it wasn't for the wind.

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World 50 K Champs

Our very own GB International Del salt went over to Ireland last weekend to take part in the World 50K Championships held in Galway. Sounds like she had quite an adventure. Del apologises, unnecessarily, for the length of the report (though I did have to extend the page to accommodate it, LOL) so here it is in her own words:

Back in June, I finished 2nd in the national 50km championships at Boddington, and as a result, I was selected to run for England in the IAU World 50km Trophy Final in Galway, Ireland. After 10 weeks or so of good solid training, I finally headed off to the Emerald Isle at the weekend for my first international race for almost 2 years.

The team flew out on Friday, where we spent most of the day getting to know each other, and following a fantastic 3 course meal in the evening, we felt like we had known each other for years.
Saturday morning dawned, and after a nice leisurely breakfast, we met up with athletes from all the other countries to go out and reccy the course. We already knew that the 50km (just over 31 miles) would be run over 2 x 13.1 mile loops, with the final 5 miles or so consisting of 4 loops around the city centre. What we weren't expecting was the number of hills - short and steep in some places, with long drawn out drags in others. It was evident that this wasn't going to be a PB course, although there were some flat sections that allowed for faster running.

The pasta party was quite nice, where all the teams sat down together to stock up on their carbs, and to eye up the competition. There were teams from several countries, including Italy, Holland, Czech Republic, Japan, Australia, USA, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and of course Ireland who were the host nation. The technical meeting followed, before we joined the sports conference where Sonia O'Sullivan was a guest speaker and of course it was an excellent opportunity to get a quick photo with such a renowned Irish athlete.

The World 50km Championships is much smaller than the World 100km Champs, but we still had a flag parade through town and it was fantastic to see all the nations flags parading through the streets of Galway, with all the locals looking on in bewilderment and no doubt wondering what the hell this was all about. It's a proud moment to be walking as part of your national team, whether it be England or Great Britain, and we all found ourselves feeling an element of emotion as we walked amongst some of the best 50km runners in the world.

Sunday morning - race day. It was time to put away all the niceties and focus on the job in hand. A short walk from the hotel brought us to the start area which was already busy as the 50km was being run in conjunction with the Galway City Marathon. Having drank so much water to stay hydrated, the usual queue for the loo took place, and then we found ourselves lining up on the start line.
There was no pressure on me in this race as the main focus was on Sue Harrison who we were expecting to win despite making her debut for the distance, but with a 2.35 marathon PB, unless something went drastically wrong, we knew she would be lifting that trophy at the end. Helen Taranowski was the reigning English Champion, so I guess she too had pressure, whereas I actually felt quite relaxed and just wanted to go out and enjoy the race.
Once the gun had sounded, there was the usual frantic start to the race before everybody found their pace and settled into a rhythm. With the undulating course, it was difficult to gauge mile splits but I was hoping to do between 6.45 and 7.00 miling which would bring me in around a similar time to that I did at Boddington (3.38).

The first few miles of the 2 laps were the worst, with several hills through a housing estate but then we headed back into town before going back out in the opposite direction up a hill which gave some fantastic views of Galway Bay on reaching the top. Unlike some races, this one was actually quite eventful for me. At the first drink station, I has a tussle with my energy gel which completely refused entry when I tried to rip the top off, then at the second drink station as I went to grab my personal drink, some bloke in front of me tried to grab it for himself at which point I said quite politely "Take it and you'll have a fight on your hands!" He did apologise, but it just confirmed what we had all been concerned about - would our drinks survive, or would other people take them? The weather also made the run quite interesting, ranging from soaring temperatures and bright sunshine, to gale force winds and torrential rain within just 90 minutes of the race starting, and this carried on for the best part of the run which made the bit along the sea front particularly difficult.

I'd started the race quite steadily and before I knew it, I was actually overtaking some well known international ultra runners, including Monica Carlin from Italy (Monica is a former world champion, and has also won medals in the 100km world champs).
The second lap of the main loop was terrible - not because I struggled as such, but more because of the increased traffic. The roads were becoming grid locked, and there were some particularly busy junctions where it was a case of just close your eyes and go for it, and just hope that the drivers saw you. The stretch up the hill towards the golf course was really bad. We had been told to run on the right, but there was queuing traffic all the way, some of which was so close to the curb, it was impossible to get past (in fact, I ran straight into a wing mirror and nearly broke my shoulder!) I moved to the centre of the road but traffic was then coming from behind, so I switched to the left but had problems with parked cars. Why not run on the pavement I hear you ask? We weren't allowed to with it being a World Championship, so it was a wee bit manic to say the least! I must have lost so much time weaving in and out of the traffic.........

Eventually I went through the marathon distance (3.03), and only had the 4 town laps to go. By now, my legs were like lead weights, the wind was blowing, and I just wanted to finish. I went to grab a gel and water, but ended up dropping it and due to new rules about feed stations, I had to go back to pick it up, losing 3 seconds!!!!!!!! Those last 4 laps were really difficult. The first part was up a hill of about 200 metres, followed by a cobbled section through the town crowded with Sunday shoppers. We then hit the main road again, where this time I had to wrestle a bus, a lorry and a parked van and had no choice but to jump on the pavement for a split second to avoid becoming a big mash of blood and guts.
Finally, at last, the finish line beckoned, and I crossed the line as 5th lady in 3.40.09 where after I almost literally fell into the arms of Norman my coach. Helen had finished just ahead of me, whilst Sue the little star had not only won, but had also broken the British 50km record, to finish in 3.15.42 - absolutely fantastic! We went back for the presentation a little later on, and were so proud to see her standing up there receiving her gold medal and the trophy.

Back at the hotel, and another team meal followed by a few pints of Guinness was order of the day, and also our last opportunity to spend time together as a team for a while. It was also a nice surprise to find out that I had won 100 Euros for 5th in the marathon, so all the ladies went away with something.
It's been a brilliant experience again running for my country, and meeting even more friends from both the UK and abroad. Ultra runners really are a different breed, and we were already talking about our next plans - for me, I'm targeting the British Trail Running Championship which is likely to be the 52 mile Highland Fling in April, followed by the World Trail Champs in Connemara in July, and then the Commonwealth Trail Champs in September. So, a busy few months ahead!!

Thanks for the report Del and many congratulations on your great performance. 5th place in an international event speaks for itself really. Well done.

Don't forget folks, keep them reports coming in for September. It's great to recieve so many varied stories and tales of runners battling it out in the hills and on the roads and even the track.

Well done to all of you who raced in August, have to go now, ran out of space.......


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Page last updated 01 September 2010


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