The Ronnie Walker 10k Saltwell Road Race will be held on Saturday 22nd December 2018 at 11.30 am.
Online entry will be available from the Run Britain website at end of September.
The Ronnie Walker 10k Saltwell Road Race will be held on Saturday 22nd December 2018 at 11.30 am.
Online entry will be available from the Run Britain website at end of September.
Trying to sum up my weekend at Lakeland 50 is extremely difficult, as there just aren’t words that are expressive enough to describe some of the feelings and emotions I felt on my wonderful adventure.
I woke up that morning totally hyper, as Is usual on race day. Quick shower then into my race kit which was laid out the night before. Was ready with loads of time to spare so sat in the car trying to keep dry. The heavens had opened the night before after it had been brilliant sunshine all day. So lovely, in fact, I’d spent the afternoon sun bathing on the grass next to the tent.
It was soon time for the briefing and I picked up my packed lunch to eat for breakfast. Grated cheese and cucumber wrap, crisps, banana and a penguin. Lush.
Briefing over and Jo, Alan, Paul and I all got on the coach for the trip to the start. Skinny country roads and large coaches are not the best combination but we eventually got there after over an hours drive.
Queue for the portaloo then we were on the start line. Can’t explain the excitement, nerves, fear, sickness I always feel on the start line. I always visualise wearing my medal before I start and it’s worked every time up to now. Nothing was going to stop me getting that medal. All the hours of training, the missed nights out, the early nights and early morning training sessions were all in aid of this moment.
We set off and I ran the first 4 miles with Mike. Was a lovely start catching up and I soon got into a rhythm I could hopefully carry on for the next 46 miles.
The scenery was to die for, the checkpoints were totally awesome. Free food, friendly, motivational marshall’s who couldn’t do enough for you. The camaraderie of the other runners make this race so special. Even though you may run many miles on your own there’s always someone not too far off to have a chat too to help the hours pass.
The weather started off lovely and sunny then quite quickly got worse. My jacket was on and off, the sleeves were up and down so many times lol. Climbing Fusedale we had driving rain, gale force winds, hail stones that felt like needles on my legs and made them bright red.
Coming into Mardale head we had full on thunder and lightening and the heavens opened. A beautiful rainbow met us at the top but I was too tired to get my camera out ??. I continued to make steady progress throughout the day and survived on the soup and sandwiches at the checkpoints, Scottish tablet, pork scratchings, love heart sweets and candy shrimps lol.
Met so many amazing, likeminded people on the way. Ran a few sections with a couple of 100 runners called Richard and a lady called Rebecca. Totally mad, awe inspiring individuals.
Got into Ambleside at around 9.30 and decided to change into my leggings and get my head torch and gloves prepared for the night time section. Got an amazing cup of coffee here by Johnny Fling and have to say it was my favourite checkpoint.
Upon leaving I met up with a man called Dominique. He was a 100 runner and had started running with Jason. They’d met at a couple of races and our meeting just felt like fate. We didn’t know each from Adam but running the last 16 miles to the end with him was perfect and I can’t thank him enough for his companionship. I had been worried about running in the dark tired, but I was pretty confident I knew the way as I’d recceed this section a few weeks before with Jo. We made up a bit more time and overtook some runners as we made a fantastic team.
Dominic finished incredibly strong. He’s a fantastic downhill runner and actually sprinted to the end.
I ran all the way in from the bottom of the last hill and felt amazing finishing strong after 50 miles. Jason was waiting for me to run me in and give me gin.
I love how they introduce you to the finishing tent as a ‘lakeland legend’ to applause and whoops of joy and congratulations.
This really is one special event and I hope to go back next year and further better my time. I ended up knocking 3 hours, 3 minutes off last years time. Which I’m over the moon with. If I can knock another 18 minutes off that I’ll be sub 16 hours which I never in a million years thought I’d be able to achieve.
Sorry for the epic post. Well done if you’ve got to the end ??. It’s more for my benefit so I can look back in years to come and see what can be achieved if you put your heart and soul into something.
Thank you so much Lakeland for making me so very happy and giving me a wonderful challenge.
I’ll be back 2019. ?
The club have now entered 1 open team (mixed) into the Hodgson brothers relay on October 7th and as already mailed out the event is open to all members who have experience of mountain running and navigation.
To that end I am going across on Saturday September the 1st to recce parts of the route.
For those wanting to come across for the recce or just to have a run in the hills please get in touch.
The plan is to run 2 or 3 of the legs depending on who is going across. The routes will mean running around 15 miles and around 5000 thousand feet of climbing so a full day out in the hills.
Thanks to everyone for helping out and all the runners, results are below:
Our very own Charlotte Pround is this weeks intervee on the popular Marathon Talk podcast. https://marathontalk.com/shows/episode-443-charlotte-proud/ . Very inspirational and well worth a listen.
This Sunday (25th March) see’s the first race in this years Fell Race Series at Brough Law. It is a great race and a good introduction to Fell Running.
To participate in the series men are 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.
The full list of races is as follows :
Brough Law 25/3/18
Clough Head 6/5/18
Beacon Hill 12/7/18
Roof of England (DFR) 17/07/18
Anniversary Waltz 21/4/18
Cross Fell 30/6/18
Me – “Well I’ve got to get a long one in sometime, it’s in my ‘marathon plan’ for Manchester. What do you reckon?” “I know, let’s do the Hobble, it’s a 32 miler in Bronte country. I did it back in the day and actually came 26th in 5 and a half hours – you impressed?”
Naz – “no, what’s it like? Anything like the White Rose?”
Me – “nothing like the White Rose, it’s relatively flat and most of it’s on runnable track”
Naz – “I’ll enter us as a team, that ok?”
Me – “yep, do it. I’ll see if Longstaff’s up for it too”
Naz – “I’ll sort accommodation, we’ll treat it as a day out in the hills and countryside”
One week before the event, Mr Longstaff ruled himself out – sciatica! We managed to kid Paul Walters, an old University friend of mine, an exSaltwell (for 3 months) and now of Derwent Valley Trail Runners into joining us. The plan was to run round together as a team of three!
The evening before the event, Naz and myself checked into our accommodation – a clean, simple Guest house situated half way up the picturesque cobbled Haworth high street, 100 yards away from tomorrow’s start line. We spent the evening in the Fleece Inn where we were joined by Paul and I got myself acquainted to the Landlord. I think his name was Timothy Taylor! To irritate Naz, Paul and I ordered the gammon steak (with pineapple AND fried egg Peter) and Naz had the halal scampi – good wholesome pre-race food, NOT! Three pints later we decided to be sensible and take an early night, after all we had to be at registration in seven hours time.
Six o’clock the alarm sounds. Time to pack bags, get dressed (Naz insisted on packing his bag in his pants for some unknown reason, probably a cultural thing!) and perform bowel evacuation procedures. Making sure the remnants of my room mates large intestine (from the evening before) had finally escaped (it was a Friday night four flusher), I dared to enter the ensuite to apply my waterproof mascara. I wasn’t going to win this race but I was certainly going to look good! We met Paul at the event HQ at 06:30hrs, registered, then went back to the hotel for our cereal, tea and toast.
After the obligatory selfie at the start at 08:00hrs, the mass of runners in front of us started to move slowly up the cobbled street. It appears we had started. Paul looked around for somewhere to have a last minute nervous wee. He couldn’t find anywhere, he’d have to wait until we hit the countryside. The weather wasn’t brilliant. It was wet, that fine rain that soaks you immediately, but on the plus side, it wasn’t windy and was relatively warm. Out of the village and onto the moors, we started to overtake fellow competitors until we reached that position in the race where we would probably remain for the rest of the event, about three quarters through the field.
We lost Paul immediately as nature called. The first points of interest were the beautiful Bronte waterfalls and bridge. From the bridge, and signposted in Japanese, we came across Top Withens, an old building in the middle of nowhere. Heathcliff and Cathy weren’t in! The first checkpoint came and went at about the 7 mile point. There, we refuelled with provided broken biscuits from a car boot and refilled our water bottles. To this point it felt that there had been little height gained apart from the climb up Haworth Front street (although we had actually done about 750 feet accent) however that was all about to change. The next bit was in full view ahead of us, we could actually see the path ahead going up and up.
Luckily the ground under foot was quite firm being made up of red gravel. In the distance and nearing the top of this particular hill was a green JCB digger. As we got closer it was apparent that it was laying large flag stones at an attempt of improving the path for the vast amount of tourists who visit the area. In my opinion, the huge, even sided, uniform squared ‘natural’ slabs take something away from the character of the place but I suppose they’re a necessity due to the wear and tear from the massive amount of footfall experienced. Moving now as a threesome, (Paul caught us up after another wee stop!), himself, myself and Naz covered the next 5 or 6 miles relatively quickly passing by the sides of reservoirs, running over dams and squelching through mud and melting snow, each keeping the others motivated and in good spirits.
Thirteen’ish miles in saw the next landmark or landmarks. We heard them before seeing them. There was an eerie atmospheric pulsating dull noise coming out of the blanket of mist. We could only partly see one giant wind turbine with its blades flying around but was aware of tens of others contributing to the harmonious drone. This short busy road section soon turned back into track, mud, slush and ice cold puddles. Halfway was approaching. I’d informed the lads that, ‘back in the day’ there was always a farm outhouse where hot dogs were served! We weren’t disappointed. The buildings had gone but thankfully had been replaced by a campervan. Hot dogs, meat and/or vegetarian (sausages skewered by the same fork Naz later pointed out!), mustard, ketchup, brown sauce, carrot based veg soup, liquorice tea, proper tea, coffee, sausage rolls, biscuits and Jaffa cakes were all on offer and all for free. Naturally we spent a few minutes here replenishing our reserves and a few minutes more waiting for Paul to find somewhere for his third wee in three hours! Onward and upwards, literally. The next hour or two was a hard, run/walk slog. The checkpoint at Mankinholes, a tiny village at mile 20 was a highlight. It comprised of a couple of trellis tables on the street path outside a pub. Food and drink included sausage rolls, little iced cakes, bone dry jam donuts, water and whiskey, blended, not single malt! What’s that all about?!
We set off again at a bimbling pace, probably around 5 miles an hour. The weather was now reasonable, the rain having stopped a while ago but the mist was still shrouding the hills around revealing them for a second or two just to keep us interested! We knew the next hour was going to be hard. The contour lines on the map were starting to get closer together (not that any of us even attempted to get ours out – our maps that is), we just knew they were getting closer together because the track was getting steeper and steeper. The bimble turned into a walk which quickly morphed into a crawl, the pushing your hands onto your knees type of crawl. The path had gone, the terrain was mud, rocks, tufts of grass and up. We were accenting Stoodley Pike which from a distance looked like, when the mist temporarily lifted, the pointy bit of Thunderbird Three.
Fast forward (or rather slow forward) down to Hebdon Bridge. I pointed out the towns Co-op to my fellow team members where I had queued for two bottles of Diet Coke with the Ironman they call Mullarkey when we last took part five or six years ago, the very same shop that was submerged under 10 foot of flood water 2 years ago thanks to ‘hurricane’ Desmond. They appeared to be interested but I know they weren’t really.
The next small village, Hepsonstall, overlooked Hendon Bridge. A quaint little place with a couple of boozers, a stone house lined narrow cobbled street and a church. Foggy, Compo, Clegg and Nora Batty wouldn’t have looked out of place here! The distance between the town below and the village above was only about a mile but the difference in height was approximately 1000 Harra feet. The last but one or penultimate checkpoint was situated just beyond the village. From there we only had 7 or 8 miles to go!
Picture this – on a narrow, metalled road, walking swiftly up a hill, a few metres in front of Naz and a few more ahead of Paul, I hear the grey haired, spectacled, jolly sales director shout, and I quote “Phil, I’ve lost my car keys!” “How” I replied. “They’re not there anymore, my zipped pocket was open and they must have fallen out. I’ll have to go back.” I questioned with complete understanding and compassion in my tone of voice, “So how far are you going to go back then – 22 miles?” Paul realised it wasn’t a viable option to retrace his tracks and we all pressed on in silence with the odd expletive coming from the Tourette’ual mouth of the ‘victim’. He wasn’t Happy!
Not long to go now, one more checkpoint to ‘run’ through, then home. Paul by now had come to terms with his dilemma and predicament and had formulated an action plan. High-end German car Assistance were going to be deployed – “they’ll get me home!” Stopping at the final checkpoint Paul asked the marshal if any car keys had been handed in. She was straight on the radio to HQ asking the question. A positive answer came back and Mr Happy returned. He skipped all the way to the finish. The finish was a welcome sight. The rain had started again and it was getting quite cold. Myself and Naz finished just shy of seven and three quarter hours and Paul completed the course a few minutes after us. Hospitality at the end was tremendous. As much veggie pasta and cheese pasties you could eat with buckets of tea and loads of smiles.
Did I say it was going to be relatively flat? I’ll take that back. It was enjoyable though, a great day out in the hills and countryside with fantastic friends.
Whilst supporting an aspiring Bob Graham member he asked me, ‘if you were feeling fit, how long do you think you would take to complete a Bob Graham Round now?’ I mulled over the question for a brief moment, conscious that I didn’t want to lessen our pace as we headed towards High Raise. The manner in which the question was put indicated anything more than 20 hours would be met with disappointment. ‘Well of course, I couldn’t see the point in doing it again unless I could get around faster than I did all those years ago,’ I replied. A cop-out of an answer in anyone’s book. What I was really thinking was, ‘have I still got it?’
By the beginning of July I was still wondering ‘have I still got it?’ The answer was quite simple, no. And it was a long time since I had had it! But with some focus, could I get back to a reasonable fitness, that would resemble some kind of movement, that could traverse Lakeland fells without too much trouble?
Although I was aware of the Joss Naylor Challenge, I had never been in a prolonged discussion about it and only knew of a couple of people who had made a successful crossing of the 48 miles, 17,000 feet of ascent, that takes you from Pooley Bridge in the east of the Lake District to Wasdale in the west. To be honest I had probably seen it as a bit of a day out for ageing fell runners.
Eventually I took the bait, and an email was dispatched seeking support for an attempt of the Joss Naylor Challenge on Saturday 2nd September 2017. Having turned 55 in July, I thought I should at least make an attempt at doing the crossing in under twelve hours, the time allowed for those men aged fifty to fifty-four. Fifteen hours for a fifty-five-year-old seemed a bit generous, but I didn’t think twelve hours appeared to be too difficult either; was I in for a rude awaking!
The plan was to train throughout the summer holidays, giving me 6 weeks. I would train for an eleven-hour forty-minute crossing. I had barely run on the fells during the previous twelve months, so I knew I would have to be committed. That lack of Fell running would show up on my first recee of the Joss Naylor Challenge. The first leg from Pooley Bridge to Kirkstone Inn is a relentless up-hill sixteen mile. My schedule told me I had two hours forty minutes.
When taking on this type of challenge, it is a priority that you get the best support around you if your challenge is to be successful. Just as with my Bob Graham twenty-three years earlier, my wife Tracey was the foundation stone of that support. Keen that the training got off to a good start she booked us into the Inn on the Lake for three days. Soon after arrival she dropped me off at Pooley Bridge. It was 3pm, and I planned to get the last bus back from Kirkstone at 6.10 pm, so Tracey could go and relax in Glennridding; I’d be back in time for dinner. Fortunately, Tracey’s faith in my athletic prowess had diminished over the years. Just as well, because I missed the last bus by over an hour. Tracey was waiting patiently! The challenge was now on and it was clear, this Joss Naylor Challenge is no gentle jaunt for old men and women looking for some last hurray.
Training intensified, regular sorties to the Lakes and when time was tight, the Cheviots, were completed and a family holiday was quickly planned, which could double as a training location.
‘I know, why don’t we go to Corsica?’
With five days to go I was feeling good, training had gone well and I decided to recee the first section again. I needed to complete this section in time with the schedule. I asked a good friend and very fast fell runner Phil Pearson to run with me. Later that week, Phil would be confirmed runner up in the English Fell Running Championships for his age group. We worked hard and kept up a relentless pace despite a bit of a head wind, but not fast enough, thirty-six minutes down. I would have to re-assess my capabilities!
Feedback from posts on the Joss Naylor Challenge blog said the twelve-hour schedule was equivalent to an 18-hour Bob Graham round. I no longer thought it was possible to get under twelve hours. I re-scheduled my start time from 07.00 hours to 06.00 hours, informed my pacers of my doubts about going under twelve hours, but in the spirit of the challenge we would stick to the eleven-forty schedule.
It was important to me, to invite those who supported me on my Bob Graham to assist this time round. Ian (Johnas) Johnson would again act as timekeeper and Man In Charge at the road crossings. Satch would again take obligatory photographs and drive me at 05.30 hours on Saturday 2nd September from Patterdale to the start at Pooley Bridge.
The morning mist on Ulswater created a photographer’s dream shot. I stared out into this surreal setting with ‘Brothers in Arms’ by Mark Knophler playing in the background, memories took me back to 1977, when Satch had previously driven me to the start of what was, in reality, the beginning of my affiliation with mountain running. Back then the background music was ‘I am a Rock’ by Simon and Garfunkel and the event was the Boys’ Brigade East Kilbride Hike. While the rest of England was transfixed with celebrating the Queens Silver Jubilee, I would be one of three young lads from Wrekenton, Gateshead to become the first Englishmen to win that event. But that was then, and in a few moments a new challenge was to begin.
At 05.55 hours I informed Ian we would start at 06.10 hours. I felt in total control, so much so it felt a little unnerving. There were no nerves, not even excitement, as I approached the bridge with my pacers Rob Brooks and Chris Kennedy. A shake of the hand and a cuddle from Steve and Gillian Donaldson and then a quiet ‘Go’ from Ian and we were off.
The name of the first summit had a touch of emotion attached to it. The previous September my father Arthur passed away and it suddenly dawned on me how many summits are called Arthur; Ben Arthur, Arthur’s Seat and here I was heading towards Arthur’s Pike. Rob took the first photo as I reached summit number one bang on schedule. Twelve hours was now on the cards. As the mist evaporated from the surface of Ulswater and the sun broke over the distant Pennine Chain, Rob and Chris maintained enough pace that allowed for a temporary pause as we marvelled at the magnificent Corrie that is Hopegill Head. After meeting our first morning walkers at Thunder Knott we were soon heading towards Kirkstone.
One of the exciting things about fell racing is looking for the best lines, it can be a bit risky, but if it comes off you can gain distance and time on your competitors. Approaching St Raven’s Edge, I felt it was time to take one of those risks. The path from the summit of St Raven’s Edge which follows the wall to Kirkstone Inn makes for slow going. And although I’ve always taken that route, it was now time to find a faster more direct line. ‘Rob, just follow me’ and he duly did. A gap in the wall prior to the summit, allowed for a diagonal line with a bit of contouring, but much easier ground to cover. Sixteen miles completed and only three minutes down on an eleven forty schedule. A sixty second pause to thank pacers and supporters before setting off with my new pacer Ben Abdelnoor.
Red Screes was knocked off in 18 minutes but the descending line down to Scandale Pass was slightly off course and the first of a number of tumbles ensued. Ben confirmed what I knew, tired legs!
I needed to concentrate and not worry about Ben moving along without his heart rate increasing or perspiration appearing on his brow. He is after all, one of the country’s top fell runners. The climb up to Hart Crag was tough, but Fairfield Summit brought renewed optimism, I was still on schedule and once both piles of cairns had been touched on Seat Sandal, I sent Ben ahead with instructions for the support team waiting at Dunmail Raise.
Tracey and my two daughters, Jane and Kate, received Ben’s message, ‘he wants a cup of tea, beans and his hat, he said you would know which hat.’
Twenty-four miles covered, half way and still only 3 minutes down on the schedule. Deck chair was ready and as I sat there, Jane’s boyfriend Ben handed me the tea and beans he had patiently being looking after and Johnas and my brother-in- law David worked on my cramped calves.
Support is essential for these rounds, but it is also a great way to spend time with friends. Three of those who had gathered at Dunmail Raise were at that event in 1977. Paul Revill, Tommy and Derek Brownlie were the main competitors back then, competing for the 1st East Kilbride Boys’ Brigade. The fierce competition between us, turned into committed friendship and I was delighted that the lads had managed to get visas to travel across the Border to wish me well.
I’ve supported many a Bob Graham from Dunmail to Wasdale, so I was familiar with most of next section to Styhead Tarn, with the exception of the route from High Raise to Stake Pass, but due to lack of training time this meant I was doing this section for the first time on the day.
I set off up Steel Fell with Iron Man Competitor Graham Stephenson. Despite the steep incline ahead, I was confident I would make good progress, these types of climbs seem to suit me and I was confident we would soon catch up with Jim Thompson and Tim Forster. I was working hard and to be honest, expected to push ahead of Graham. When this didn’t happen, I was hoping Graham was working flat out to stay with me. The reality was, I wasn’t moving that well and only just managed to reach the summit on schedule.
The terrain over to Birks Gill before the climb up to High Raise allows for good running, I was picking good lines but knew I wasn’t moving quick enough and the ascent to High Raise was a tough slog. I really wanted a rest and the opportunity came with the need to stop and take a compass bearing and discuss and then choose the right line over to Stake Pass. The downside was adding minutes to those extra ones I’d already acquired since leaving Dunmail. Once at Rossett Pike, I demanded to know from Jim how the schedule was going, emphasising, ‘I don’t want any bull.’ I was well aware that pacers will say anything but the truth to those who are struggling, I’ve done it myself. Jim without any emotion, calmly informed me I was just over twenty minutes down. I needed a second wind and it came on the ascent of Bow Fell. I finally began to feel I was moving out of first gear. Tim, one of those who was in that minibus in 1977, decided to head straight to Great End and join us on the descent to Styhead Tarn.
On the climb to Bow Fell we met a bloke doing his Bob Graham Round, he was having a hell of a time. I shook his hand, wished him well, but couldn’t help having a wry smile at what this challenge was doing to him. I hope he got to Keswick in time.
Bow Fell was reached one minute faster than the schedule, the pace had picked up. Jim and Graham however, were concerned that I needed to get more food into me and insisted that I sit down and eat a sandwich. I didn’t want to sit down but out of respect I did what I was told, what they didn’t say was for how long! I scoffed half a jam sandwich then I was off. I knew I had to get some time back and couldn’t afford to lose anymore. Jim and Graham weren’t too happy but hey ‘it was my party.’
Esk Pike came and went and we were now descending the tricky route to Styhead from Great End. No sign of Tim, he must be at Styhead. ‘Take your time Keith,’ hollowed Jim. If there is a good line on this descent we weren’t on it. I was going as fast as I could while trying to pick a line through the boulder field. Loose rocks were falling everywhere. ‘He’s going to….’ And as I tumbled forward, I stretched out an arm to break my fall, but not fast enough. My body hit the rocks with such a force, I momently felt myself passing out. I was conscious enough to hear Graham continue his sentence….’I knew that was going to happen.’ Once Jim swivelled by body around and the blood began to flow again, I lay there thinking, ‘this is it, challenge over.’ My knee was knacking, it had taken the full brunt of the fall. Jim helped me up and we gingerly made our way down to pick up the path and onto Styhead Tarn, twenty minutes behind schedule, but still on for twelve hours. No sign of Tim.
Gillian and Steve greeted us and handed over beans, drink and clean top. The fall was in the past, the banter and laughter was good, and I was easy meat for micky taking. The day was going well. The East Kilbride boys were there too and I took the opportunity to introduce them to the assembled crowd, which included the general public. I particularly made a point, of telling them of the legend that was Paul Revill. Back in 1977, Paul was the star athlete of East Kilbride and revered by all of us from Gateshead. Ten years later we would compete together in the Karrimor International Mountain Marathon.
While I finished off the beans, Peter Mullarkey and Paul Richardson set off up Great Gable. Gemma Bradley would take over from her fiancé Jim and set the pace up Gable, we had four hours to get to Greendale Bridge.
In the Borrowdale Fell race five weeks earlier, I had gone from Styhead to Great Gable summit in twenty-five minutes ten seconds. Today I had thirty-four minutes. There aren’t many climbs tougher than Gable after a long day on the fells. I could see Peter and Paul ahead and with my signature Panama Hat secured firmly we were off, working as hard as we could to catch them. There were plenty of walkers descending the path, I must have looked a rather obsessed ignorant figure as I stared at each step in front of me. Gemma tried to give me a drink, but I resisted the temptation to interrupt my pace. She persevered, I accepted and she got me to the top in twenty-six minutes, good effort. The only disappointment was that we only caught Peter and Paul a few metres from the summit!
Paul took over navigation, Peter dropped off the pace and would make his own way to the finish line.
As we approached the summit of Kirkfell I was reminded to take all of this in. The visibility was superb, the mountains spectacular, the company was good and I was having a great day out. Paul was doing a fantastic job picking some excellent lines off Pillar and Gemma was plying me with food and drink, I was amazed where all the drink was coming from. I was certainly being well looked after. As we approached Steeple, Paul ran off to find a good decent off Haydock and Gemma took the opportunity to rest awhile as she watched me dash across to the rocky outcrop that is Steeple. Gemma was setting an amazing pace, we were knocking minutes off the scheduled times as we passed over each summit. Descending Haydock, we spotted Paul, unable to find the scree route but he had a found good line down and across the wet ground of the Pots of Ashness, before the penultimate summit of Seatallan. After forty odd miles this is a monster of a climb, I pulled on all the reserve I had left, each step seemed like my movement had reverted to slow motion as I ascended this whale backed shaped mountain.
I glanced at my watch more than once, trying to work out if I was going to make twelve hours but my brain was going slower than my feet. Gemma offered encouragement and drink every other step. I took the encouragement but declined the drink. That would be my reward when we got to the summit. ‘Keep it going Keith,’ I kept telling myself, this is the last of the hard climbs. As we reached the trig point I gratefully accepted my reward from Gemma. We both looked out towards the Irish Sea and the lowlands of Cumbria, we were at the western edge of the Lake District. It didn’t matter which way you looked the views were magnificent.
I turned and glanced across to Middle Fell, the last summit, then looked at the watch. I had 70 minutes to get to Greendale Bridge and a twelve-hour crossing. This was the first time I knew I was going to make the schedule. At Middle Fell I insisted we had a few minutes to soak up the day and take a few photos. As we descend down to Greendale Bridge I could see my support team gathering, ‘I hope Tim is there!’
After eleven hours and twenty-eight minutes I was met and congratulated by a shepherd’s hand.
What a privilege to have Joss and his wife Mary meet me at the finish.
‘Well done lad, that’s a good run you’ve had, you have obviously got a good support team with you.’
‘I couldn’t agree with you more Joss. We have indeed had a great day.’
And then Tim turned up!
Later that day the great day was completed, when we gathered for food, friendship and fellowship in the Santon Bridge Hotel.
As part of my challenge I raised £1,300 for Daft as a Brush, Cancer Patient Care, based in Newcastle which supports patients across the North East and Cumbria.
I would like to sincerely thank my wife Tracey, and my daughters Jane and Kate, who make life so easy for me when it comes to running in the mountains. And to the following, in order of appearance; Ian Johnson (Johnas), Stephen Millen (Satch), Rob Brooks, Chris Kennedy, Gillian Donaldson, Steve Donaldson, Phil Pearson, Tommy Brownlie, Derek Brownlie, Paul Revill, Ben Abdelnoor, David Watson, Katherine Watson, Ben Connelly, Jim Thompson, Tim Forster, Graham Stephenson, Peter Mullarkey, Paul Richardson, Gemma Bradley and Jimmy and Debbie Smith. Without your support and commitment on the day and prior, with your own training and preparation, this day would not have happened, I am most grateful to each of you.
Saturday 2nd September 2017
I had signed up for this race at the end of 2017 as it sounded like an interesting challenge. I was glad I did as it sold out fairly quickly.
The Saturday before the race was exactly the most ideal race preparation. A full day at work followed by a family birthday/get together meant that I had around 5 hours sleep.
When my alarm clock went off, it definitely felt like the middle of the night although this was soon sorted with a strong coffee.
I had a short walk to Gateshead Stadium metro, where I met Neil Curry, and we were picked by James May at around 7am, shortly followed by picking up Philip Young. The car journey took around 2 hours (Thanks very much to James again for driving there and back, I don’t have a car so I really appreciate any help to races that are further afield)
We entered the Temple Newsam Estate, parked up and went to collect our numbers. It was at this point, we couldn’t believe how cold it was. We then bumped into the others (Claire Lloyd, Bill Wilson, Nicola Shaverin, Lisa-Douglas Perry, Phil Robertson, and Rob and Michelle Masson) It was really good to see friendly/familiar faces.
We headed back to the car to get ready for the race (I came to the conclusion that even after 5 years of running/racing, I still can’t pin a number on my vest straight!) I felt under prepared as I hadn’t bought my gloves and I just had shorts to run in. We sat back in the car for a while to keep warm. I’m pretty sure Neil Curry was tempted just to stay in the car, meanwhile I was questioning/reminding myself as to why I was doing this.
We jogged to the start, got a team photo and soon we were off. I decided to sit comfortably at the back of the field. I had recently ditched my Garmin and decided that I just wanted to enjoy the experience.
Within a mile, there was a guy sat on the grass, clutching onto his ankle/being helped, having gone over it
on the downhill. It was at this point I decided I really needed to get round without any injuries (I’ve had my fair share of broken bones, and I’ve been to that many different hospitals/A+E departments around the country that I could probably write a book, and could do with out a review of Leeds General!)
I felt really good and strong and before I knew it I was slowly overtaking other runners. I found myself feeling amused at around 4/5 miles in, there was a queue of runners who had stopped, and were wasting (in my opinion) a lot of energy trying to carefully walk/step around the really muddy bits. Whereas I just ran fully straight through the middle and managed to splash them all with mud.
As I didn’t have my Garmin and only Strava running silently on my phone, I didn’t have the pressure of looking down at a watch all the time, this meant I could concentrate more on my surroundings, how I felt and improving my technique. This meant on the Hills, I was able to run all the way up overtaking runners who were walking up them with their heads down (My helium balloon was definitely there throughout the race)
At 7/8 miles I caught up with Nicola Shaverin, with my LiRF head on I felt guilty for overtaking, but Nicola insisted that I carry on (Thanks Nicola, hope you recovered ok) Again feeling really good, and with no pain in my Achilles or knee, I decided to push on and managed to overtake Phil, Claire and James on a hill. At 9 miles, I really pushed on hard, and the encouragement/support from other runners around me was brilliant.
On the final hill, I ran with 4 or 5 other ladies and again we all encouraged each other to keep going. The final straight was on the grass/flat (unlike the Hadrian’s Half Marathon which had the finish line at the top of an incline) and I managed a strong sprint finish.
We swiftly headed off to get changed and set off back home (first though and more importantly stopping at a Wetherspoons in Garforth, for much needed food and drinks although Philip Young was disappointed it didn’t have a carpet, but this was made up with a quick visit to a local microbrewery)
The race was really well organised and the marshals were brilliant (lots of shouts for Saltwell and thanks for travelling down from Gateshead) The race was excellent value, at around £16 to enter, with a goody bag, technical race t-shirt and medal.
I absolutely loved the whole day from start to finish. I completed the race in approximately 1hr 48 minutes and was 57th in my age category (Senior Female) I’d definitely take part in this race again and complete another trail race sometime soon. The experience made me reflect that joining Saltwell, in January 2013, aged 21, and when I really wasn’t sure if I was good enough, was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
ABRAHAM TEWELDE had to pull out all the stops to retain his Ronnie Walker 10k road race title over a testing three-lap course in and around the outskirts of Saltwell Park.
The Saltwell Harrier just made it to the start line in time to defend his crown seconds before the near-500 strong field, who had observed a minute’s silence for the former Saltwell stalwart, set off.
Having had no time to warm up the Eritrea-born athlete settled in behind Gateshead’s Conrad Franks and by the completion of the first circuit the pair had a nine-second lead over Dan Jenkin (Durham City) with Tom Charlton (Tyne Bridge) and Nick Samuels (Sale) tracking them.
The leading positions changed on lap two with Twelede taking up the running and opening up a significant advantage over his main rival as the gaps behind began to widen.
Twelve months previously Tewelde, who had been living in Gateshead for just a matter of months, spreadeagled the field to win in 31min 55secs however, this time round the pace was much slower.
At one stage on the final circuit Twelede was leading by around 50 metres however, a determined effort by Franks saw the lead diminish considerably and then, with around 800 metres to go and rounding the park lake for the final time Franks hit the front.
However, it was only a momentary lead for Twelede battled back to regain control before coming home to win by just three seconds in 32:41.
Franks, who finished third in last year’s race, claimed the runner’s-up award after leading Jenkin across the line by 39 seconds.
Tyne Bridge Harriers, led by fourth-placed Charlton, won the team prize ahead of a delighted Low Fell trio.
While the men’s contest was a close affair the women’s race saw a comfortable victory for Loughborough-based Sonia Samuels.
The recently-crowned North East Counties cross-country champion, was contesting the race for the first time but despite that, she was confident enough to lead throughout.
After completing the first circuit Samuels was lying in 13th place overall with another former Wallsend athlete, Danielle Hodgkinson (Birchfield) in second place just ahead of North Sheilds Poly’s Charlotte Penfold.
With around 3k to go Samuels had moved up two further places into ninth, a position she would hold all the way to the finish.
Hodgkinson, who had dropped out of the NE Counties XC Championships at the midway point due to injury when lying in third place, showed no signs of discomfort on this occasion and crossed the line just 28 seconds behind Commonwealth Games-bound Samuels.
Despite slowing slightly on the final circuit Penfold hung on well to claim third place.
Samuels, who will be in action once more over 10k in Milan, Italy on New Year’s Eve, said after her victory: “It’s not a course for fast times but having said that I still enjoyed myself.
“I wanted a hard run today and while it was tricky at times with so many twists and turns and having to weave through the tailenders I’m quite happy with my time.
“I’m having a few days break here in the North East with my family before going to Italy and then it’s off to Kenya for altitude training in preparation for the Commonwealth Games.”
Report : Bill McGuirk
Pictures : Stephen Millan