The Durham Cathedral Relays are held at Durham cricket ground which sits alongside the River Wear in a picturesque Durham City location. The relays consisted of 3 legs with each leg running two of the 1.5km laps the course. Whilst the relays are a cross country event and the route was all on grass, the course was largely flat and fast. There was one ascent up a short, sharp bank to access the upper field section of the course with a more gradual return down the hill to the bottom field. The remainder of the course consisted of long straight sections which run around the periphery of the cricket pitch, and as you would expect were pretty flat. All in all, a fast course over a short 3k distance – perfect for the relay format.
On a truly cold day (-1.5 degrees C when I arrived into Durham!) the grass was crunchy and the ground below was frozen and firm. There was much discussion amongst all the runners as to whether spiked, trail shoes or trainers were the best bet for the conditions, with the consensus being to wear whatever you had brought along or felt most comfortable in. In the end I went with spikes (in true cross country fashion!) these proved to give enough grip on the accent and descent sections but felt fast and light for the straight flat sections of the route.
It was good to see so many Saltwell Harriers runners at the event, enough to contribute teams across all of the categories and multiple teams within the women’s and senior men’s races . The veteran men were up first and the Saltwell team put on a strong showing and true to form posted a time which set a challenging target for the other Saltwell teams to try and beat throughout the morning. Next up, the women’s race and Saltwell contributed 3 teams. Once again, Saltwell Harriers were competitive within a very quick field. It was good to see all those who had either finished a leg or who were waiting to race standing alongside the course to cheer on their club mates.
The senior men were scheduled to run last on the day. By this point, the temperature had lifted a little and although much of the course was still frozen, aspects of the route were cutting up around the apex of the corners and along sections of the final straight. A good turn out from Saltwell Harriers who entered 4 teams into the senior men’s race. I was running on the first leg and I entered the start pen with the other Saltwell runners. After exchanging good luck messages we dispersed ourselves around the group. A benefit of running on the first leg is that you get to start within a pack, so for the first 1k, I settled into a comfortably quick pace for the distance that kept within the group of runners. Having watched the other relays during the day, by the time I started, I was glad to get running and as I travelled along the opening straight and up the steep bank I was into a nice rhythm to take me through the first kilometre.
The majority of the course included long flat straight sections which meant you could set an even pace. For the second kilometre, I maintained my position and worked towards picking up the pace to close down runners ahead, by this point the field had evened out across the length of the course. It was good to have Saltwell runners and supporters dotted around the route providing welcome encouragement and motivation throughout.
For the final kilometre, I worked on upping the pace and closing down and passing the runners ahead. Being in a relay group, I was thinking about giving the best possible start to Chris my teammate running second leg and Dave on the final leg.
It was a great event to be involved in. As a new member to the club I have always felt ‘part of the team’ when running in a Saltwell vest and the relay format emphasised this even more. It was good to be able to support the other runners throughout the day and whilst the weather was bracing to say the least, it was an unexpected bonus that the ground was so frozen my spikes didn’t need cleaning for once!
Please see details of this years Fell Series.
The format is the same as last year. Men to complete 4 races – short, medium & long plus another. Best position to count. Women to do 4 races – two short and two medium. The long races don’t count in the womens series. However, if they feel they have the experience to do them they can enter. Lowest points wins. i.e 1 point for first Saltwell to finish.
Carrock Fell 20/3
Beacon Hill 14/7
Whitfield Village Fair 11/9
Windy Gyle 19/6
Three Peaks 30/4 – Pre entry
Chevy Chase 2/7 – Pre entry
Borrowdale 6/8 – Pre entry and English championship race
A big well done and thank you to all those who turned out for the Durham Cathedral Relays on a crisp and cold January Sunday! Full results available at http://www.durhamcityharriers.org.uk/events-fixtures/cathedral-relays/.
Alongside watching some amazing performances from some top runners of our region, Saltwell highlights included a brilliant internal race between the senior men’s ‘F’ and ‘G’ team, cracking runs – as we have come to expect – from the girls, some great relay debuts, and the usual ‘tough talk’ between the senior and the vet men! The seniors beat the vets on time this time round…but watch out for the rematch at the Signal Relays in Feb (more info to follow!)
Thanks once again, great turn out, great support and great cakes!
Just to confirm that after an inspection of the Town Moor today it was decided to cancel the event this weekend. There is the possibility that it will be re-scheduled to 13 February – depending on a dry spell, so that the excess water can drain away – watch this space!
When this race was announced a few months ago I was attracted to it straight away. A joint celebration between Saltwell and Heaton Harriers of their 125 years of existence on some of the most scenic tracks and trails in the area – what isn’t to like. And free to boot!
I’ve had a few I injuries since I ran the York marathon so I wasn’t in the shape I would have like to have been going into the race, but I’d had a half decent week beforehand with no niggles so I feel like I’m on the way back now.
The course had been shortened due to the amount of rain we had in the preceding days which meant the section over the pit heap had been taken out which was disappointing but understandable. This meant the route was 4 miles instead of the original 5.
Arriving at the Barking dog for registration i caught up with a contingent of hoops who had made the journey.
As we lineup in the start line it became apparent that the race wasn’t going to have a big field (42 in fact) which on the positive side meant that we were all able to fit into a pre race photo – not something you could say for many races.
My thoughts inevitably turned to what position I might be able to achieve in the race. Looking around at the other runners there were a number who looked as if they would be able to contest the win, although its impossible to tell until the race starts.
As the gun went off there was a group of 3 heaton runners who immediately went to the front and I tucked in just behind them. The first mile went by and although the pace was fast I felt like it was within me and I was able to keep up with the group. Because of the change of route I had decided to wear racing flats rather than trail shoes, however I regretted this at a number of points in the race when the route was very muddy and frequently involver running through large patches of standing water.
In this part of the race I felt like I could have pushed on harder and taken the lead but was apprehensive of doing so for a number of reasons. I’ve done very little running in the past 4 weeks and although I felt strong at this point in the race I didn’t know if I would be able to sustain it for the remainder. Also I didn’t know any of the group I was running with so didn’t know if they were on the edge or running within themselves.
So we were all together up until just after 2 miles and then things started to break up. One heaton runner dropped off the back (I assume he must have picked up an injury as i passed him walking back to the start later in the race) .
And then another runner started to fall back and there was just 2 of us running together. At this point I decided to make my move and I went past him to take the lead.
It didn’t last for long though as he obviously had reserves in the tank and retook the lead just before we reached the final section of the course with just over a mike to go.
With any race, no matter what distance the first 2 thirds are usually spent holding back, pacing yourself and thinking about the tactics you are going to follow. Then the last third is normally about letting go – running g as fast as your body will allow and pushing through the pain barrier.
This was now this point in the race – the heaton runner (Stephen Schubeler ) was now starting to build up a lead – only a few seconds and I thought if I could maintain this gap the I would have a chance in a sprint finish.
The last section of the course was an out and back so I was able to see runners coming the opposite was and it was nice to hear the shouts of encouragement ( sorry I didn’t shout back but I was struggling to breathe never mind talk by this point ).
I heard a shout of “go on Saltwell he’s flagging” which should have pushed me on but the problem was that I was flagging too, badly.
The gap was getting bigger and I was on my limit, it was at this point I conceded I wasn’t going to win the race. I was physically incapable of running any faster than I currently was.
And so I crossed the line in 2nd place, 11 seconds behind Stephen. Les Smith from heaton came in 3rd and Graeme put in a great sprint finish to take 4th place by a whisker.
All an all a great day out and if heaton put the race on again next year I will definately be back.
I’m sure I’ll not the the only one..