Natural Ability Fell Race

The next race in the internal fell series is the Natural Ability Fell race, a new race for this year.

This would be a great avent as an introduction to fell running as it a short course with not too much ascent or technical terrain.


  • Date & time: Mon 4th May 2015 at 11:00
  • Country: England
  • Region: Northumberland / Durham
  • Category: AS
  • Website:
  • Distance: 9.9km / 6.2m
  • Climb: 350m / 1148ft
  • Venue: Allenheads, NE47 9HN.
  • Grid ref: NY38595453
  • Skills & experience: PM
  • Minimum age: 18


3 Peaks Fell Race Report 2015

3peaks23.3 Miles, 5279ft of ascent

I have a love hate relationship with fell races. I love races themselves and being in the mountains, but I hate the fact that I’ve never ran a fell race where I’ve felt like I’ve done myself justice. I’ve just never been able to translate my road speed onto the fells and I struggle with technical terrain, especially steep descents.
The 3 peaks has been looming large in my calendar for a while now and I feel like I had unfinished business from last year having not ran particularly well, especially in the latter stages of the race.
My mate Dave was also running – he was a bit apprehensive beforehand, the longest he’s ever ran before being 16 miles.
As we drove down the weather steadily deteriorated, turning into heavy showers & poor visibility as we pulled into the picturesque village of Horton in Ribblesdale, the site of the race start and finish.
We had a bit of time before the race so I asked Dave if he wanted a map reading 101. He had asked me before the race which scale to print off – 25000 or 50000. 25000 I replied – it’s more detailed.
“But I don’t know how to read a map anyway”
“Well I guess it doesn’t matter which version you print off then”
It always amuses me how many runners don’t know how to use a map and compass given that they are mandatory requirements for most fell races.
Ok, so first question – where are we on the map now? Errm, is that the first hill there asks Dave pointing at Horton? Hmm, think the map reading tutorial will have to wait for another day.
As the race was about to start the usual question reared its head – jacket or no jacket? It was fairly cold and a little breezy but the rain had stopped and it’s pretty much uphill from the off so I decided to put it in my pack.
Then the start had arrived and we were off. I had a target in the back of my head that I wanted to run under 4 hours, but I decided not to get hung up on it and put pressure on myself and run on feel as much as possible.
The first peak, Pen-Y-Ghent was summited in very similar conditions to last year – cold, misty andl & windy on top, except this time it didn’t clear on the way down so mercifully I couldn’t see Whernside far off in the distance.
There was no bottle drop at High Birkwith this year so onwards to the next checkpoint at Ribblehead. It has started raining by now but I felt strong along this section and was able to pass a number of people, although I had to keep having to tell myself to not go too fast as there was still a long way to go. Then it was upon me again, Whernside – the hardest ascent beginning with a knee high ford of a stream and bogs galore.
I started to get really cold at this point so first the hat went on, then gloves & rain jacket. I was soaked to the skin by this point but at least it was another layer & it kept the wind off. You know when you’re on a steep ascent when your Garmin auto pauses because it doesn’t think your moving which it did a number of times.
Finally I got to the top – thankfully no cramp this year, although there were a few runners not so lucky. Then it was time for my old friend – the steep rocky descent, my weakest link. I was passed by a number of people on this point, but thankfully not too many and I managed gain back a few places by the time I reached the next checkpoint at Hill Inn.
I think it’s always an advantage having competed in a race before as you can remember how you were feeling at different parts of the route. Last year at this point I was starting to suffer – my legs were tired, I was exhausted and I was getting periodic cramps. This year, although I certainly wasn’t feeling like a spring chicken, I felt much stronger and started to overtake people on the ascent to the final peak, Ingleborough.
It actually started to snow at this point and visibility was still poor but it was now that I started to think about my finishing time. Last year it took me 53 minutes to run the 4 and a half miles from the summit of Ingleborough to the finish – I felt pretty sure that I’d be able to beat that as long as I didn’t get any cramp or have a nasty fall (which I nearly did on the stony summit). I reached the top after 3 hours 17 mins which gave me 43 mins to play with.
Now it was time to take a chance – no more holding back, I was going to put everything I had into this final section. What a difference to last year, those last miles were probably the best part of the race, I felt unstoppable and overtook quite a few people on this section – completing in in just under 37 minutes and crossing the finish line in 3:54:49 – 45 minutes faster than last year.
I now finally feel like I’ve put in a decent performance in a fell race. I definitely think that not having the pressure of being too hung up on a specific time allowed me to hold back in the early stages of the race and finish strongly.
Dave had a great race too, finishing in 4-39 which I’m sure he’ll be back next year to beat despite apparently cursing me at various points round the course.
Will I be back next year? Of course I will!
As a footnote, here’s my race report from last year






Anniversary Waltz Fell Race Report

anniversary18.04.15 – 11.5 miles, 1200 m ascent
Another Saturday, another fell race in the lakes and another journey over on my tod! Conditions were in contrast to the previous week, sunny, warm and calm! Like last week it was just myself and Phil Pearson representing Saltwell. This is a classic race which takes on the Newlands Horseshoe and the summits of Robinson, Hindscarth, Dale Head, High Spy and Cat Bells.
The race start was slightly changed this year to further along one of the narrow lanes which avoids some of the ascent along the lanes at the start but means a longer run in at the finish. Conditions were really warm now and I felt a bit sluggish at the start with the first mile and a half on narrow lanes. After this the route goes off road with a steady climb to the foot of the first mountain of Robinson. I took the opportunity to shove down an energy gel to try and perk me up and this seemed to work as I felt relatively comfortable up the initial steep climb up Robinson which involves some scrambling. The gradient then eases off allowing a nice run over the summit. The views were stunning with most of Lakeland in view and also over the Solway Firth and Irish Sea.
From Robinson there is a nice grassy descent before a short sharp ascent to the summit of Hindscarth. I felt ok now and the run from Hindscarth to Dale Head is pretty level and fast. From Dale Head there is a very steep descent to the tarn below where I took the opportunity to take a further gel and throw cold water from a nearby stream over my head. The water felt lovely!
There is now a steady climb up to High Spy which as its name suggests has magnificent views over Borrowdale. On previous races I have felt very tired on this section but today felt quite steady. The route from High Spy goes over an undulating ridge with views over Derwentwater on one side and the Newlands Valley on the other. This section normally seems to take ages but today passed quite quickly and before long I was on the short scramble up Cat Bells and down the other side and along the slightly longer run in to the finish.
A beautiful day to be out in the fells and a pleasing time of 2 hours 15 mins (75th out of 191)-almost 30 mins better than my previous best! Phil went even better-1 hour 57 minutes in 22nd place.
Iain Armstrong

Coledale Horseshoe Fell Race Report

coledale1,025m ascent 7.5 miles
I had been wanting to do this race for a while having missed it last year through illness. It was a lonely journey over to the lakes as I was the only one travelling over. When I got there it was apparent that there had been some overnight snow on the tops and the race would now take place on the bad weather route to avoid dangerous conditions on Eel Crags. This cuts around 1 mile from the distance but adds an additional 100m climb.
At the race start I realised that I was not the only Saltwell Harrier running as I spotted Phil Pearson who lives over in the lakes and had a chat with him. Phil was looking in good condition!
As the conditions were cold and windy even in the valley and with wintry showers forecast I started off wearing a jacket as I thought it would be pretty wild on the tops. I lined up at the front as I didn’t want to get caught in the bottleneck at the first climb. Away I went with the fast runners at a furious pace which was good on one hand as there was no queuing at the first bottleneck after approx half a mile on the road. Once off the road there is a steep climb of around 700m onto Grisedale Pike. I was climbing pretty well towards the summit when Phil came past me. I managed to stay with him until the descent off Grisedale after which he disappeared into the distance! The descent was quite tricky with some icy rocks and a buffeting from the wind which made it difficult to stay on my feet. Luckily conditions were clear and there appeared to be no showers approaching.

The descent levels out at Coledale Hause and instead of climbing up to Eel Crags the bad weather route heads back down the valley on a rough stoney track for around a mile. After this there is a grassy ascent to rejoin the normal race route. This climb seemed to sap my energy and at the top it was a bit of a trudge towards the final summit of Barrow. At the top of Barrow I seemed to gain some energy and had a good run off Barrow to the finish, managing to pass a couple of people. The cup of tea, sandwiches and cake at the end went down a treat!
All in all I was pretty happy to finish in 1 hour 34 mins in 116th place out of 249. Phil finished an excellent 56th in 1 hour 25 mins.
Iain Armstrong

Paris Marathon Race Report

daveyCIt’s my own fault really, it was me who signed up for the Paris Marathon on a whim last year. Of course, Jacqui followed suit and training started in earnest at the turn of the year.
Then about six weeks ago I lost the love for long training runs, just as I should have been increasing my distances, but I couldn’t do it. Couldn’t find the urge. Couldn’t find the energy.
My preparation for this marathon was so bad I never got above 17 miles so I was really worried in the week leading up to the run.
Such was my trepidation that (as I admitted to Jacqui afterwards) if this had been a local race at home I would not have run.
After making arrangements with Jac on where we should meet and how long she should wait for me at the end, I went and stood in my starting pen where I got chatting to some guy from Chicago who had only entered a couple of days ago as he fancied a run out because he hadn’t done a marathon for a couple of weeks – which made me feel really out of my depth!
Once the klaxon went, 47000 runners went pounding down the Champs–Elysees towards the cobblestoned Place de la Concorde (cobblestones?! No runner wants to run on cobblestones!). The first 10k went by quite smoothly in 52 mins and I thought; this pace is okay. A bit faster than my training runs but still sub 4 hours. Encouraged by thousands lining the street calling Allez! Bravo! Courage! Superb! and a few French words I didn’t understand I ploughed through the park past the huntsmen blowing their horns and around the loop back in to the city.
There were bands every mile or so and they really gave you something to look forward to; an eclectic mix of rhythm bands, horns and rock groups. That, along with the feed stations offering water, orange segments, bananas or sugar cubes and the mile or kilometre markers along the route really helped spur you on.
I had looked at the map beforehand to see at what point I could drop out if need be and the halfway mark was the best bet but I reached that in 1hr 51 and still felt comfortable so kept on going. From here I would walk if I had to but I was damned well going to finish it.
I was taking in a lot of fluid because of the heat and, of course, what goes in must come out so I stopped at one of the portaloos at the 17 mile mark which was a mistake. I completely lost my rhythm and struggled to get my legs going again. Once we got into the Princess Diana tunnels under the city I was going well again in the shade after a mile in there feeling confident again. Leaving the tunnels you had to run back UP to ground level which was an effort and a soon as I hit the sunshine and heatwave I slowed again, but hey, I was at the 20 mile mark now and knew I could do it. I walked/jogged/ran the next few miles around the Bois de Boulogne (a park which is a notorious gay hangout but that wasn’t why I walked that bit!) taking on water whenever I could and the Fire Service were hosing folk down which was a huge help.
At the 25 mile marker I saw a table from the Marathon du Medoc giving out samples of wine and I thought, ‘Why not?’. A few sips of red really revitalised me and I was able to run the last mile to the finish with a smile on my face (that Dorando Pietri knew what he was doing!)


I know Jacqui was faster than me. I know my time wasn’t Mo Farah-like, but you know what? The sense of achievement I got from completing this race – in that heat, with such self doubts – was immense. Look at that picture of me crossing the line. That’s how happy I was to finish this marathon; not my first, not my fastest, but I was very pleased with my time of 4hours 12m.
It was long, it was hot, it was tiring. And I’d love to do it again next year.
Davey Candlish

Blyth 10k Race Report


I had high hopes of getting a PB before this race – my previous being 35.41 at the Heaton Harriers 10k on the town moor in November. I’d love to break 35 minutes and this was going to be the first race I’d attempt it- the Heaton 10k has a number of tight right angle bends and u turns which I reckon could account for 11 seconds, leaving me 30 seconds to find.

I’ve been running well since November so I thought it could be achievable although everything would have to come together on the day.

Unfortunately things didn’t come together on the day – some of it my own fault & some of it not.
The first thing that didn’t come together was the weather -strong winds and rain were forecast for the morning.

The course is an out and back along the sea front, the first half being with the wind against you. Logically you would think that any negative impact of running into the wind on the way out would be counterbalanced by having it behind you on the way back in, but anyone who’s ever ran in wind will tell you this certainly isn’t the case. It’s the same with hills.

The second thing that didn’t come together was my pre-race preparation. For some unknown reason I thought it would be a good idea to have a full cooked breakfast 2 hours before the race – what was I thinking? I’m supposed to be an experienced runner and I’m making a schoolboy error like this!

Sitting in the car just before the race was about to start I could noticeably feel that it hadn’t fully digested and I felt sluggish. As I lined up at the start I made another schoolboy error. I was only a few rows off the start, but I should have been on the line. This race doesn’t have chip timing, and while the couple of seconds before I crossed the line wouldn’t make that much difference, weaving in and out of people for the first couple of hundred metres certainly didn’t help. The problem is that a lot of people who want to have a good race and maybe get a pb go to the front of the race so they don’t lose time crossing the start line.

An event where there is a field of almost 600 runners should really have chip timing, although this is my only criticism of the race – it’s only £9 to enter including a t-shirt with free parking dead on the start/finish line.

I had decided I was at least going to try to break 35 mins, but may have to revise my goal if the wind proved too strong.

Once the race set off and I got into a rhythm I knew fairly quickly that this wasn’t going to happen – my first mile was 5-44 when I should have been on 5-37 pace and I was struggling. Once the race took a left turn onto the seafront & sand dunes and shelter for the wind was lost and we were running straight into it and I slowed even more, my second mile dropping to 6-04 and I was feeling worse.

In a 10k race I’m normally able to hold my target pace reasonably comfortably for the first couple of miles, and then it starts to get tougher after that but the first 2 miles felt like the last 2 normally do. I started playing mental mind games with myself – what had went wrong? It wasn’t just the wind – have I been running too many miles, should I have done parkrun yesterday, was it the effects of by breakfast not being fully digested, has my training been wrong.

Mile 3 went by and I was still feeling the same, thankfully this is where the route takes a u turn and the wind was now behind me. Ok so I’m not going to break 35 minutes but can I still get PB? It didn’t take long for that question to be answered with a definite NO, as I still felt pretty much the same.

On the way back I spotted Ria Knox coming the other way & gave her a wave as she shouted back encouragement – I love moments like this I a race & always think it helps to spur you on.

Ok, so what’s the next goal – beat last years’ time of 37:23. That’s pretty much spot on 6 minute pace and I was running around 5-54 so if I could just keep going I should be able to do it.

Soon I was into the last mile and I actually overtook a few runners, although this was definitely because they slowed down as opposed to me speeding up as I was on my limit. My stomach was starting to churn now and I was glad it was only a 10k race otherwise I think I’d have to stop to be sick.

I crossed the line in 36-45 (according to my Garmin, race results aren’t out yet) – well outside of what I was initially aiming for, but I always try and take a positive from a race. My positive from this race is that I managed to keep going & pushing hard throughout the race even though I lost the mental battle with myself and was feeling terrible throughout the race.

I’d also like to say I’d learned a few lessons, but they should be lessons I’ve learned years ago so I really need to make sure I don’t make them again.

The biggest positive I always take from a race though is the I came through it without injury and am already planning for my next one (the 3 peaks fell race in 2 weeks time).

Also, well done to Ria who did get a PB of 51:02 which I’m sure would have been sub 50 given better conditions on the day.



Spring Race Series

For those new to the club our spring series takes advantage of parkrun. There are six races in the series to be completed, using the same scoring as xc and now our road race grand prix.
Anyone who dosen’t take place in a race will be awarded 50 points, and the top 5 performances are counted i.e. you can miss one race and not be penalised for it.
The winner is the male and female runner with the least points. If no-one completes the six races a minimum of four is needed to stay in the competition. Rules are that you need to wear your Saltwell vest and your time is recorded. Therefore anyone taking part will need to register with parkrun (a simple, fast and free process).
Current Standings
This year’s spring series will be:
Sat 11 April – Newcastle

Sat 18 April – Gateshead

Sat 25 April – South Shields

Sat 2 May – Riverside

Sat 9 May – Blackhill

Sat 16 May – Sunderland



North Tyneside 10k race report

tynesideSunday was a lovely sunny morning so I slapped on the factor 30 (ah, the curse of the ginger – the slightest hint of sun and I turn a startling shade of lobster) and headed off to North Shields for the start of the North Tyneside 10k where I met up with the other twenty five Saltwell Harriers who were running this race. It was great to see so many Hoops when you consider that only a couple of years ago there were only half a dozen runners from our club here.

After a bit of banter about projected times and the sunshine (I should have taken some of the Saltwell apparel with me – I’m sure I would have made a killing selling the caps!) we headed down to the start area where I lined up next to Phil Robertson, hoping to keep him in sight all the way round as he has been flying in training in recent weeks. But I had insider knowledge and a game plan. I knew the first half mile got a bit congested so as soon as the klaxon went, so did I. I flew off and within minutes found my rhythm, comfortable in my race pace along the Fish Quay. All that training around Low Fell with the club certainly came in handy as I stormed up the hill past the Priory and onto the flatter, fast bit of the course heading along to the lighthouse at Whitley Bay.

I surprised myself by getting to the water station at the halfway mark in around 22 minutes, grabbed a bottle (why do they take the whole cap off? You can’t run with an open bottle!), chucked half over my head and the rest at the bin and carried on at the same pace as I was still feeling good. A couple of miles on and I rounded Spanish City to see Ria Chasten in front of me. That spurred me on to try and catch her and within a few hundred metres I wheezed past her like an asthmatic Darth Vader – too tired to talk I gave a quick thumbs up as she called out her support. A little further up and I was able to squeeze past Jamie Ferguson, too – I was flying!

With only a few hundred metres to go I looked up and could see another Hoop ahead but was it Phil Young or Nicola Whitman? In my defence, I don’t wear my glasses when I run so it was an easy mistake to make; I couldn’t tell whether it was a 40 year old with a shaven head and rugby players build or a young. blonde female – all I could see was a Hooped vest and legs! I couldn’t quite catch either of them though. I thought I’d lost all my speed with my marathon training but still came in at a respectable time of 45.22.

Kevin Kendall was first Salwellian home, just ahead of Dale McCallum, in a great time of 38.40. But there were great times all across the board with PBs falling everywhere; Charlotte knocking seven minutes of her previous best and Phil Askew, ten. Naz was so excited at his time he picked up his goody bag but forgot to grab his luggage before he left!

A special mention should go to Helen Mullarkey who has had a rotten time with injuries this last year and it was great to see her back out there, coming in just over the hour mark and getting a deserved round of applause from the gathered Hoops.

Thanks also to Nicola Shaverin who was there at the end, handing out chocolate bunnies to the Saltwellians as they crossed the finish line – it made it all worthwhile!

Davey Candlish