London Marathon 2015

london1We probably bent your ears about it for months with talks of pacing, long runs, heavy legs and recovery tips…but the London Marathon has been and gone and the aching muscles have been replaced with happy(ish) memories and new goals. We did think about someone writing a traditional race report for the website but then came to the conclusion that it would be pretty difficult to sum up and capture all of our different marathon experiences.
So instead, the London Marathon finishers of Saltwell Harriers have shared their top tips or marathon reflections with you. In true Saltwell style, some took this more seriously than others (and some tips are more useful than others!) but anything sent through has been included!
From (Saltwell) Jim…“Print your name on your vest…you not only feel like the crowd are shouting in support, but you feel like they know you and are willing you individually on” (And so the legend of ‘Saltwell Jim’ was born!)
From Peter M… “Don’t drink too much tea before the race otherwise you’ll lose nearly a minute in a portaloo at mile 8”
From Frank… “Do more runs of 20 miles plus as this really helps to build strength and stamina over the last 5-6 miles. Get your name printed on your vest as you’ll get so much support and encouragement from the crowd and you won’t let yourself stop! And joining Saltwell was one of the best things I did – you get plenty of help and advice, especially when recovering from a hamstring injury just a few months before. I’m already looking forward to the next one in the Autumn in York!”.
From the Garrett’s… “No gain without pain (see photos!) – but well worth it!”
From Paul Richardson… “During your long training runs, concentrate on time on your feet. If you are thinking about doing a 4-hour marathon, you need to feel confident you can be out on your feet for four hours. This might involve run/walking on your training runs but that’s ok – if you gain confidence that you can last the time. If you’re more focussed on running to a target pace to achieve a target time then run some of your training runs faster than your target pace, which again will build confidence for the day of the race”.
From Clare L… “Talk to people! Everyone is feeling the same as you and if you are struggling (for whatever reason) just distract yourself by talking to others. Charity runners are easy to approach, you can ask them why they are supporting etc, and you can always shout at your local club runners to get their attention (which a lovely woman from Tyne Bridge did to me) and, whilst this doesn’t apply to the ‘runners’ more the ‘get rounds’ I talked to lots of people waiting for the loo!”
From Ian S… “Joining Saltwell really helped with the training, especially finding other people to run with on long runs. If you’re reading this and are not already a member then sign up! On the day itself, soak up the atmosphere, and enjoy the beginning and the end with other club members – you’re all in it together. Afterwards, don’t underestimate how much you will have taken out of your body so take time off to recover (which I didn’t do!). And one final thing…the texts and facebook messages gave everyone such a massive lift on the day – thank you!”.
From Gemma…“Don’t go off too fast. Everyone says it…but they say it because so many people do it! This really worked for me and I really feel helped me to enjoy the whole thing”.
And from Darren…“Know where your hotel is and know where you’re meeting people!”. (You’ll have to ask Darren!)

Leeds Half Marathon – How not to train and/or run

Let’s start at the beginning, a while ago I wasn’t sure how to prepare for this event, did I really have to train properly or could I just blag it.
The decision was made to get a training plan and follow it-ish. Club nights would tick most of the boxes but get some structure around the ‘long’ weekend runs.

Then week by week the long runs were invariably missed caused by either being a busy parent or spending to long recovering after a night in Lisa Perrys Shed.

Still I’d done my first ever 13 mile training run in less than 2 hours with a ‘decent’ amount of effort one fine Sunday morning at 6:30am. That should do me I thought, at least I should be well rested and to be honest it was the first time in almost 6 weeks that my legs actually felt like my own.


Onto the race day, early start as the race was off at 9:30am. Alarm was set for 5:20am and straight out of bed for the usual cup of tea and PB and banana on toast. Headed off to the sisters house as she was driving down and we made good time getting down there, even through the stupid 50 mph contra-flow.

We got there with a reasonable amount of time to spare and headed towards the start/portaloo’s and bumped into the two other Hoops participating, Hairy Phil and Nicola Whitman, quick hello’s and good luck’s exchanged and then nature called. Queue for the lav’s was crazy and would have took at least an hour so off to Wetherspoons we headed.


All ready for the run so off to the assembly area we go, it was very organised and nothing like the cattle market that is the GNR. People were split into zones and filtered round the start area towards the line, me and the sister (Nicola Shaverin for those that weren’t aware) got into our red zone. As the pacemakers came in we realised that we were maybe a bit too far forwards for our liking.
So back through the pack we moved to the 110 minute marker, although to be honest the way I was feeling I was eyeing up the 100 minute marker with optimism (race excitement had clearly took over any sense of realism). As the start drew nearer the clouds disappeared and the sun started to blaze down upon us all, not great.
On through the start and off we go, first mile took 8:27 which was a bit quicker than we’d wanted to go. The original plan was to keep it steady at 8:45 and then see what’s left in the tank from 8 mile, bearing in mind that the first 6.5 miles was almost all up-hill. Mile two was 8:36, again quicker than the original plan and Nicola was correct as usual with “This is a bit too fast”, “Just go with it was my response”

Onto miles three and four and another batch of hills which took a lot of helium and arm pumps to get up in a reasonable time, that’s when my breakfast started to rift up and a bit of sick crept up on me, this wasn’t in the schedule. I started to drop Nicola as I thought she was feeling the heat and hurting a bit from the hills, when in reality she probably knew how to pace herself better.

I managed to stick with the 115 minute pacer for 8 tough miles but by mile 7 my legs were feeling heavy and full of acid, not a good sign when you’ve still got a 10k still to do. Just struggle on I told myself and your legs should loosen up with this nice downhill stuff and relaxed running stride. Did they loosen? did they balls. If anything, they started to get worse and nothing I done helped relieve the pain. With this pain and the heat belting down I was hurting and really felt like giving up, at least you’re over half-way I thought, over half-way? That means you still have at least another 50-odd minutes of running, oh dear!!

Struggled on for another 4 miles trying to use the distraction technique to take my mind off the pain, count to 500 and that should get you round the majority of a mile, think I managed to get to 75 before the pain distracted me from my counting. The 115 minute marker got further and further into the distance, my strides got shorter and shorter. Then goes the 120 minute marker who passed me like I was standing still, as he disappeared so did all my confidence.

That’s when I really wanted to give up, I got to about 11.5 mile and I could feel that Nicola should be creeping up on me and a few turns and there she is, trotting along with ease. Walk until she catches up and then she can pace me in, yet another bloody mistake, could I run, I think you know the answer to that. Bless her she stuck with me and dragged me round the remainder of the course, legs hurting, pride hurting and pet-lip was reet out.
Onto the finishing half mile and ooosh she’s off, after seeing 3 or 4 people passed out at the side of the road, finishing in one piece was the priority. Turn the last corner then all of a sudden “HOOOOPPPSSSS!!!” was ringing in my ears, super Naz had made the trip down to cheer us in, what a guy and really helped me get my sorry ass over the line.

Sulked towards the goodie bag collection point and then came the only thing that I got right that day, Large or Medium?? Large was the call as I was feeling fat, frumpy and a few other F’s that I can’t repeat on hear (flashback to mile 12 and I thought the tourettes technique might help, made me smile but I didn’t get any faster lol).
Medal was placed on after a finishing time of 2:06 and I felt like hoying that and my trainers in the bin, the toys were well and truly out of the pram. Then we saw Nicola W and she was buzzing after finishing in a superb time of 1:41 and then came Naz with his congratulations and my mood started to lift. Once again the best thing about this club is the people that are in it.

Continued to sulk on the way home and decided that basically it was all my fault but at least I’d learned some lessons which I’ll never forget:
1) Train properly
2) Eat properly
3) DO NOT go off too fast
4) Do not do anything different to what you do in training. (1st ever time running with a buff and I really don’t like carrying stuff)

So I’ve hopefully gained some valuable race experience from this, so not all bad.
Also from never running again, I’ve changed my mindset to go back to Leeds next year and kick it’s ass, I then might stop being a grumpy so and so.

Congratulations to the other hoops who ran today :
Nicola Shaverin 2:05
Philip Young 1:47
Nicola Whitman 1:41
Shaunak Deshpande 1:37.

Phil Robertson

Keswick Half Marathon Race Report

kevWith my triathlon calendar filling up I was looking for a tough challenge in spring to ensure my training was heading in the right direction for the summer races. The Keswick half marathon was billed as ‘probably the most scenic 13 miles 192.5 yards in the country’.
This means it’s going to be hilly, and probably cold. And wet! Perfect. I like to run when it’s tough and the elements are against me. Growing up in Cumbria does that to you. The weather is grim, the hills are steep and there is no getting away from it, you just deal with it or don’t train.

After night shift I walked out of work at 8am on a miserable, bleak Sunday morning. Tired and not looking forwards to what lay ahead; my initial enthusiasm was long gone. Phil James, Harra and Naz were there waiting for me. There was a quick update on last night’s Britain’s Got Talent as we drove to pick up John ‘Father Jack’ Longstaff and headed for the Lake District.
The following 100 miles or so were filled with laughter, club banter and unrepeatable stories involving Thornton’s chocolates, tents, broken gates and stolen cars. My mood was lifted no end and I was almost looking forwards to the race. We eventually arrived in Keswick and stopped to at the only Halal Greggs for breakfast. The rain was still pouring as we picked up our race numbers and got changed into our race gear. Long sleeve and club vest were order of the day. Phil had a bin bag and his usual short shorts while John was braving it in in just a vest with a white Buff worn around his head making him look as if he had suffered a nasty head injury.
Graham attempted to keep off some of the rain by wearing some sort of pedal bin liner, only managing to cover an arm, half his chest and his neck. Graceful in defeat he gave up and braved it like the rest.
Off we went to the start, hike over a hill, jump on the waiting speed boat then wander through the woods to the start line. The boat ride was particularly cold and unfortunately Naz had forgotten his usual life vest.


We chatted with a few other competitors on the start line, many of them dressed in big waterproof jackets and rucksacks, possibly full of sandwiches. The 5 minute call was given, a more sedate than usual ‘HOOOPS’ announced our presence and we were ready to go. Already tired and cold, I knew this was not going to be a race to push hard. As the klaxon sounded the pack barely moved, this wasn’t a crowd that would tolerate the elbows out, argy-bargy chaos of cross country. So up onto the verge I hopped, skipped through gaps and nipped in to any opening I could spot. This carried on for the first mile or so on narrow roads until the first challenge of the hill towards Newlands. I suddenly felt good so started to push on, passing a few from Lowfell and a couple of Bounders.

The route then dips down for a quarter mile or so then another steep climb. Some had already started to walk, I pressed on again giving a little encouragement as I went. Then a mile steady downhill before the punishing climb out of Stair towards the foot of Catbells. This is the hill where John offered to help a fellow runner who was going to struggle, a lady with 15 years on him. In his own words ‘ howay hinny nee bother i’ll get ye up that hill nee bother’. Up that hill they battled and the gentleman that he is didn’t leave her side until she could go no more, true sportsmanship was shown on that hill.

It takes something special to turn around and run back, but in true Saltwell spirit John did. He dragged his companion over the top of the hill. Only for her to blast right past him and down the other side, that would be the last time john would run with her.

On the downward couple of miles to Grange the views across Derwentwater are incredible; this half marathon was truly stunning. Although many of the mountains where covered in low cloud and the roads had been tough I spent the last 7 miles enjoying some of the best racing the Lake District has to offer. The route was dotted with spectators who gave the odd ‘well done Saltwell’, I even got a nod of the head and a raise of the mug from a walker who had stopped on the roadside for a cuppa.
The last undulating stretch on the east shore of the lake came and went quickly. I moved between small groups of racers, tagging along with some faster lads who dragged me to mile 12. I made a big dig and left them, but this final mille was a long one. I eventually hit Keswick and knew there were only a few corners to get around before arriving back at the rugby club. I finished with a time of 1:37.52. I was glad it was over but I knew I had raced a superb course. Phil James took the race to the line, sprinting it out against a Blackhill Bounder to a time of 1:47.22. Graham finished with his usual smile in 1:52.22. John was back next, just a couple of minutes behind in 1:54.01. Naz finished in 2:08.55 with the biggest grin on his face, or was it a grimace. It certainly turned to a grin. I doubt anyone enjoyed the run as much as he did.


The return journey was again filled with laughter and entertainment but with some added cramps, a foot massage, the usual aches and some snoring from the back seat.


Keswick Half certainly was brilliant, one to be done again next year. Hopefully with a little more sunshine and a few more from the club. You won’t be disappointed.


Kevin Kendall

Sunderland Half Marathon Race Report

rob_sunAs with Blyth, this was a race I was looking to shoot for a PB (my current being 1:18:01 at the Great North Run last year), however my efforts were again thwarted by the weather.
The forecast for the day was 20mph winds and heavy rain, and the forecasters were certainly spot on with their predictions.
As we set off for the first couple of hundred metres I was running with the leaders at the front of the race. Quick look at my garmin – 5-20 pace, ok that’s a bit tasty – time to slow down.
I let the leaders shoot off & settled into around 10th place – after a few miles the first group were out of sight and I could see 2 runners about 100m & 200m in front of me.
After about 4 miles my calves started to hurt – uh-ho, that probably means I’m not fully recovered from the 3 peaks last week, I just hoped they wouldn’t cramp up later in the race.
All sorts of things go through your head in the early stages of a race like this – can I hold this pace for the rest of the race, what am I going to feel like at mile 10, but the main thought that was going through my head at this point was “I wish this wind & rain would **** off”.
Despite the conditions I was still averaging about 5-53, but I know I was yet to feel the weathers full force. This happened when I turned into Ryhope Road and I was running head first into a ferocious head wind. Wow that slows you down.
It’s easy to think that this is a fast course, but you forget about all the slight uphill/downhill sections and little twists & turns like the U turn at the end of Ryhope road – thankfully this meant the wind was behind me, at least for now.
It was at this point when I realised the runner in front of me was Andrew Jackman, who I work with. I had been gradually gaining ground on him & went past him at about mile 8.
Then it was time to head north over the Wearmouth Bridge for the final few miles. I always find that around mile 9 is the equivalent of miles 18-19 in a marathon. It’s where the questions of “have I set off too fast” and “can I maintain this pace for the rest of the race” are answered.
Today the answers seemed to be “No” and “Yes” and I got a little burst of energy at this point. The next runner was about 200m in front of me and I didn’t think I’d be able to catch him – he’d went past me at about mile 4 and was obviously running well. I just tried to maintain the pace I was running at – around 5-56 at this point.
Onto the sea front & fully exposed to the cold wind and heavy rain – the route takes another U turn & then into Roker point. As I turned I saw another runner close behind me – wow he’s made up some ground in the last few miles.
This gave me a bit of extra impetus to push on through the park, although I was nearly blew over coming out of it. It was now running straight into a strong headwind again and it was at this point that I knew I wasn’t going to beat my PB, the wind was just too strong.
The runner behind went past me with about a mile to go, I tried to hold him off but he was just too strong for me at this point and I was exhausted.
As we turned onto the final straight I spotted another runner just in front of me, not the one who had went past me but obviously someone who was struggling. Could I catch him and the other runner before the finish?
I tried as hard as I could but it didn’t happen, they beat me by about 10 seconds and I crossed the line in 1:18:23 in 11th place (if the race had been 2 months later I would have been first V40 and won £50 – something to aim for next year).
I don’t think I’ve ever been so cold or wet in a race before (other than a fell race), but you have to take the rough with the smooth – you can’t control the weather on race day.
Congratulations to the other brave hoops running today in both the half and 10k races:

Nathanael Ogborn           1:26:00
Shaunak Deshpande       1:35:15
Michael Gills              1:47:25
Craig Hendry                     1:58:25


John Walton       44:29

Dave Candlish    49:05

Jacqui Candlish  49:47

Trevor Sirmond 56:42

Chris Watson     1:00:32


NE Grand Prix Race Report

philI’ve always wanted to do track events, so when the club found me the North eastern open grand prix to do I was over the moon. I must admit I did have a few moments that I thought I couldn’t do it for one reason or another but after a few conversations with some fellow hoops I decided that I would do it. So I went out and bought my sprinting spikes ready for the series.
On the day of my first track event I was a nervous wreck, more than I normaly am before an event. When I arrived at Monkton stadium in Jarrow I seen a few people I know from other clubs, so after a few good lucks of them my nerves began to calm down. I made my way to register for the 150m sprint where I bumped into Scott Garrett and his son who was also doing a couple of events that evening.
After I registered I went and put my number on the front and back of my Saltwell vest. Then I sat with Scott and he pointed out a few of the sprinters I might be up against.  Then a few fellow hoops turned up to support me. (You have to love the support you get from the hoops). There was big Bill Wilson who came on his bike. Phil and Sam turned up with their future hoops. Then eventualy Claire Lloyd turned up. So for my first event I had a canny cheer squad.
After a few conversations with the hoops it was time for me to go and put my spikes on and warm up next to all the other sprinters. I didn’t know what warm ups sprinters did, so I just copied of the others and tried to look like I know what I’m doing. I felt so out of place next to all these young athletic looking sprinters. So I decided I would go and hide at the back out of the way with my Saltwell hoodie and hood up and my Saltwell buff over my mouth and nose. I got a fair few funny looks of people and one of the starters said I looked like a “radgie”.
Then it got serious when we got told what number race we were in and what lane we were going to be in. This gave me a chance to check out who I was up against and this is when I thought to myself this is going to be a hard race, I need to give it my all to be in with a chance to keep up with them. After the first few races went off it was the turn of my race.
Then I heard the starter say “stand behind your blocks” I had to prented to do this as I didn’t have any. I psyched myself up for the race. Then the starter shouts “On your marks”  I get down on my hands and knees ( Not the first time I’ve done this in a race). Then the starter shouts “set” and i’m ready to go legs and arms twitching with nerves.
Then “BANG” we are off I found it hard to build my speed op on the bend, then before I knew it I was on the final straight and I could hear the hoops cheering me on and then I realised that I was coming last, so I tried to speed up even more to catch the two just in front of me. I started to catch them and I’m thinking I can do this, I’m going to catch them, then suddenly they speeded up 10m from the end and I had nothing left in the tank to catch them.
I crossed the finish line in a bad mood and disappointed in how bad I done. Then one of the sprinters in my race came over and shook my hand and said I done a great race for a beginner. Then I started to realise I wasn’t that bad of a sprinter, then after all the hugs and handshakes and congratulations of the hoops I started to feel good about myself and that I’ve done my first track event and can’t wait for two weeks time for the next one. I think it would be great for some more hoops to try the track events with me.
Phil Askew
Click here for a link to the race – check out the slow motion on the bend!