Races

Posts relating to races, events, etc.

Snowdonia Half Marathon, July 2019 – Jonathan Jones

Waking up at 6am on a Sunday isn’t usually on everyone’s to do list, but when the view greeting you outside the window is as breathtaking as the Snowdonia mountain range it’s a little easier, it’s a shame the same can’t be said for what was awaiting an excited crowd waiting for the start of the On Snowdonia Trail Half Marathon.

Breakfasts of porridge, yoghurt and muesli, toast and two soft boiled eggs consumed and Adi and I are ready to hit the mountain, it can’t be that hard right? It’s only a half marathon with a bit of an uphill! Never have either of us been so wrong about a race.

The crowds are gathering after some inventive parking in the already packed car parks as the 26.2 runners are set off, each of the distances starting at staggered times. It’s 45 minutes until we’re off, so several toilet stops (nerves, too much coffee, both?) and a wander around the stalls of the excellent athletes village later and we’re called to the start for the safety briefing. It’s a decent sized field, with runners from all over the world, including a few recognisable vests from Sheffield and Beverley amongst others. Preamble over, and the countdown begins to start the race, and after 3,2,1, we’re away through the streets of the beautiful town of Llanberis before sweeping left and beginning a 3000ft,  6.5 mile ascent of Wales national mountain. The first 3 miles are OK, a steady climb up farm tracks and loose stone trails, easily runnable, albeit a challenge on the calves, but it’s fine, this can’t be that bad, can it?

At about 4 miles the paths sweep downhill, as Snowdon comes into sight and looms large over the landscape. It’s at this point the long snaking line of runners can be seen starting their climb. It’s a long, slow stream, and in about half a mile we’re about to discover why. The climb is brutal, loose rocks, uneven footing and steep slopes that wind endlessly. With each few hundred feet ascended the mountain disappears behind its own sheer face, and as each corner is rounded another few hundred feet come into view. It’s relentless, and runners can be heard all around cursing, complaining and almost sobbing each time they discover the summit is still some way off. Some 20 minutes or so after beginning the climb and about 2500ft up the mountain the clouds obscure the sunshine that’s been warming our shoulders and the peak is shrouded in a thick mist that sends the temperature plummeting, making us shiver. It’s at this point I have the urge to check for a ring tied around my neck, this no longer feels like a run and more like a journey into Mordor. It’s exhausting, cold and the voice inside my head keeps telling me to turn back, but the path levels off and the descent is in sight. After a ridiculously slow mile (over 25 minutes from mile 6 to mile 7) we can eventually start running again, but it’s not running as we know it, the craggy rocks are like shards and the footing is treacherous, so although it’s finally downhill, it’s not a downhill we can enjoy as we keep our gazes fixed at the ground immediately in front of our feet. There’s a faller in front of me, and the gravel sprays up around him as he tables, but with the help of a fellow runner he’s up in a flash and moving again.

As we drop below the clouds again the sun comes back into view and it’s with a welcome sense of relief that a drinks station appears from under a small tunnel beneath the train tracks, which we’ve looked at with envy on more than one occasion today. A quick swig of the sponsors energy drink and it’s onwards to the finish. It’s all downhill now right? Somebody mentions “The Quarry”, but no further thought is made of that particular aspect of the race, how bad can it be? We’ve only got a few miles to go. As we reach the bottom of Snowdon, the sound of the PA can be heard from the start/finish line, but a quick glance at the watch suggests theres still a couple of miles to go, ah yes, The Quarry.

11.22 miles, that’s the exact point at which my enjoyment of this race was most tested. As I saw the hard slate steps that greeted me my heart sank, legs that were on fire, lungs that had little or no breath left and steps that were taller than my knees. How on earth was I going to get through this? I wanted to quit, I had nothing left. Passing a young runner about half way up this bonus 650ft climb that must have been a sick joke devised by the organisers over a pint, I ask if he’s OK. He just looks me in the eyes and says, I just want to cry. I know exactly how he feels, the climb just goes on, and on… and on.

At the top, there is finally a top, the marshal greets us with a cheery “well done, only 2.5km to go” and I want to hurt him, the way my legs are hurting me, but I smile politely and say thank you. The surface turns to tarmac again as we enter the town, the train is pulling into the station as we round the final bend as if to taunt us just one last time. There’s nothing left in the legs and the downhill feels as painful as the uphills, but the end is in sight. Across the tracks, and the flags are finally in sight and it’s through the finish of what has been a race that is probably the most underestimated we have ever run. The winning time was 1 hour 58 minutes, utterly mind boggling, we Harriers managing 2 hours 50 and 3 hours 15 respectively. Those times felt disappointing initially, but when looking at the full results the magnitude of the run came into perspective as at least half the field was still to finish after us.

This was a relentless and cruel race, but the views were spectacular and despite our brains constantly telling us to stop, our legs had other ideas. We did it, somehow!

Doncaster Town Centre 5k, July 2019 – Ben Hales

Doncaster 5k

A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts, who can punish himself into exhausting pace, and then at the end, punish himself even more. —Steve PreFontaine, legendary 5000 metres runner

“20 minutes of pain”.

That’s how one Harrier described the five kilometre discipline last night.

Though it’s easy to take part in regular Parkrun 5Ks, there’s something a bit special about this one.

It’s a chance to race through the street of your home town with runners from as far as Salford, Stamford and Sutton-in-Ashfield. There’s prize money up for grabs, but more important than that, it’s a chance to get your PB on a fast road course.

And that’s exactly what most of the Harriers that took part at this year’s event did. In fact, the only member not to get a personal record didn’t do so because he stopped to help a fallen runner at the start – hats off to Richard Hoggard.

So popular has the Doncaster Town Centre 5K become that it’s split into two races: a veterans’ race followed by the open race. I decided to get the suffering over with in the earlier event.

The first lap hurt. My pulse was racing, my breathing fast and heavy, and my mouth was dry. On the second lap, turning past the crowd outside the Danum Hotel I felt a second wind. Then, buoyed on by encouragement from Chris Ramsay, Simon Elliot, Nathaniel Redcliffe and other Harriers, I increased my pace a little, concentrating on breaking my PB of 21:36.

Another lap of struggle then it was into the market for the final time, and I held off threats from behind, passing the finish line just as it turned 21 minutes – job done!

And it was lifetime bests all round – James Holloway romped home in 18:43, with David Langford a second behind. Andrew Finch made 21:49 and Amanda Lane 23:40.

We oldies headed straight to the Red Lion to earn some well deserved Heineken – or was it schadenfreude? Either way, we enjoyed watching Michael Plant (19:34), Tara Burkill (21:29) and Matt Millington (25:40) break the pain barrier, and set their fastest ever times.

Doncaster 5k

Great Hucklow Fell Race, July 2019 – Jose Dias/Simon Rayner

Jose Dias and Simon Rayner

No more than 150 runners on the start for my first race in Hucklow, a small and friendly village.

Start with an unusual 1 mile down hill, a sharp left and crossing the river to a nice and steady up hill to the summit – legs burning, hot and mosquitos! No roads, no single tracks just farm fields, up and down hills until single track next to a river mud to your knees. Absolutely loved it.

More hill on site and a bit of a walk to save the legs to a final downhill for a deserved drink and flapjack (made by the locals!). Family at the end to cheer you up (very important to have family support).

Will definitely be back next year! (Jose)


Yes, I had to look it up too. Near Hathersage, not one of the usual Peak District leisure destinations and all the better for it. So after a journey made slightly more adventurous by road closures, I park in the village and walk up to register. Race HQ is in a field by the school.

There’s shelters for admin and catering, a finishing funnel and a portaloo. Somewhat alarmingly, there’s also a Cave Rescue vehicle. I’d seen the course profile, it looked challenging but it all seemed to be above ground. I’m reassured by a race marshal, in fact there’s no mandatory kit requirement today as the weather is set fair.

I chat to a few runners, most have run here before and are happy to give me advice, then return to the car to ‘kit up’ passing Jose and family on thier way to registration. Team Danum is assembled.

We are called to the start on a lane near the school, the clouds have parted and it’s now hot. The organiser stands on a rock and addresses us with understated humour (you don’t get hyperbole in fell running), and then a moment of levity as the funnel shoots out of the starter’s air horn into the front row, my last smile for about an hour. Now we’re off, and it’s a mad downhill start, through the village and still descending, onto a rough stony track. We  turn left and onto a rough pasture at the foot of Durham Edge, the most severe of the climbs. But first we need to negotiote what the organiser described as a puddle. It’s more of a pond, knee deep and unavoidable, so it’s full speed and straight through. The climb gets steeper, we are all walking, hands on knees to the top, we skirt the gliding club field and are now running again onto more undulating pasture and open moor.

Not many runners can smash a fell race. It’s always hard on the heart and lungs, and harder on the legs. On a good day though you can get into a rhythm, feeling light on your feet, almost flowing over the ground.

Today it’s not like that. The first hill has taken the wind from my sails and I’m rusty too, it’s my first race this year and I’m not reading the trail quickly enough, a toe caught on a grassy clump sends me tumbling, and I’m continually running into avoidable bogs that threaten to steal my shoes. One bog tries to take a leg.

A fast descent through a meadow leads us off Abney Moor, along a brief road section and into the Hidden Clough. We drop down to cross Bretton Brook, then turn and run along it’s steep banks, cross again, ascend, then drop down to a farm at the foot of the last hill. It’s a long ascent in full noonday sun and a cloud of flies is adding to my torment.

I try not to walk. I walk. I check the watch, less than a mile to go so I’m running again before the marshalling point at the top of the hill.

Despite the encouragement here (it has been very well marked and marshalled), my legs are heavy and I’m overheating, I want it to be over. But then a glorious parting gift. We drop down into the shade of Great Hucklow Woods and onto a long descent, the flies have gone and the air is cool, and just for a minute or two I’m picking a fast line over the rough ground, moving at a decent speed, running with not against the terrain. It’s a good feeling, it’s what keeps us coming back.

Straight out of the woods, and still moving at speed, there’s a hard left across some scree onto the finishing field. Jose, (long finished and shortly off for a picnic with his family) is there to cheer me home, and to warn me. Apparently some runners have already taken this last opportunity to fall, but I get to the line without incident. I find shelter and get a drink. Theres a hose pipe in the corner of the field so we take our turn to wash off the worst of the peat from legs and hands, and while we wait, swap stories and compare battle scars. We are weary, but enough baking has been done by the good folk of Great Hucklow to more than replace every calorie burned by the runners today.

So that was that, I spent a sunny morning in the beautiful Peak District, I didn’t run that well but still enjoyed the race, and I still don’t know why people pay a lot of money to enter races with mud and contrived obstacles when it’s all here for a fiver. I would have paid that just for the cakes. (Simon)

Jose Dias and Simon Rayner

Caistor ‘Sting in the tail’ 10k, July 2019 – Adi Tuplin

Caistor 10k

There’s probably not a lot left to say about this iconic 10k race that’s not already been said a thousand times before but here goes.

Set in the historic market town of Caistor high in the Lincolnshire Wolds this race has been on my radar for many years, mainly due to the super cool race vest seen at many an event I’ve attended over the years. The problem being though is that I hate 10k’s, these ‘shorter’ long distance races are bloody tough and feel more like a sprint to my Ultra accostomed legs nowadays – but up it popped on my FB notifications and without a minute’s hesitation I was in.

Race day was soon amongst us and after picking up a bleary eyed Laura, still fuelled on VK from a night out with the girls we (Tracy, me and Laura) were off to Caistor. Registration was a busy affair but really well organised and we were soon stood on the start line – watched over by the lovely duo of Tracy and Karen H who offered loads of brilliant support on the day.
Starting the event were myself, Caroline and Rich G, Dave H, Laura Syd and Mick P and for some reason we ended up starting quite near the back but because of chip timing this mattered not and it actually turned out to be a masterstroke because from the sound of the gun I seemed to be streaming past runners pretty much from start to finish which as most of you know is better than the alternative and gives a much need boost to the ego – *note to self for future races ! *.

The first 4 1/2 miles were much like any other 10k with part road, trail and paths being utilised and to be honest I liked the feel of, after feeling slightly lethargic in my running lately I felt like the brakes had been released a bit and felt half decent out there for the first time in a while, and it was mainly downhill which helped – – but I’d already been warned about the ‘sting’ to come !!

The first uphill came at roughly 7k and didn’t last that long – ‘what’s all the fuss about’ I thought. Then a nearby Caistor runner said ominously “I hope your ready for the Sting ! “, I brushed it off.

Another Km or so of undulating paths went by before I heard a second Caistor runner say “brace yourself for the Sting !” – his mate laughed. Then a third warning came and as I rounded a sharp corner there it was – a hill steep enough to force several in front of me to straight away start walking and if I’m honest I was coaxed into joining them for half a dozen or so steps – – until the first Caistor runner I’d spoken to came past chanting his war cry of “never give in, never stop running !! “. This did the trick and after probably only 20 seconds of trudging I was off again and hill or no hill I pushed forwards. The next Km carried on up into the market place, skirted around the centre, under a couple of diggers which were positioned so we had to ceremonially run under their outstretched arms – and then we headed back down out of town to skirt around and hit the ‘sting’ all over again on the last K. The last 500 yards or so were up-up-up and as we skirted the corner to the market the finish arch loomed – in sight but not ideally positioned for a sprint finish though and although it felt like a heroic finish it probably looked more like a stumbling trudge over the line to finish.

With legs burning and lungs bursting it was over and I joined the orderly queue for goody’s. Vest *tick*, beer *tick*, sausage sarnie *tick* – Caistor certainly know how to look after their runners.

Summary: A cheap as chips race, very well organised, lots to keep runners and spectators entertained – with an entertaining warm up troop and everything from ice cream vans, stalls, kids trampolines and even a couple of sheep and a donkey to pet in the market place, all local amenities were also open to all who require post run refreshments.
Would I recommend it ? – hell yes. Am I converted to 10k running ? – all I can tell you is that I’ll definitely be back for more next year…. Nuff said!

Caistor 10k

KMR #5 – Roche Abbey Dash, July 2019 – Mick Plant

KMR 5, Roche Abbey

So I arrived at 6pm at Maltby Catholic club, filled in my race form, paid my £5 and was duly handed number ’44’. There were a few familiar faces from the Maltby guys who came to our away run and they were friendly as always. My friend Tim from the Kimmy Striders then arrived and our usual banter took place. I then got talking to a KMR newcomer who asked me what Dan-um was, I explained it was pronounced Day-num!! but then told him all about our great club. I was relieved to see David Langford and Ben Hales arrive so I wasn’t the only Harrier. One of the Maltby guys told me the race was bumpy in places but no long climbs like the earlier Maltby Memorial race and 2 miles shorter.

So off to the start we went, only a short walk into the fields and another Harrier was waiting for us, Dave Mccabe who I had not met before. A quick team photo and the group of 150+ runners were all keen to go.
A short race brief where we were told the 3 tail runners were a Doctor, Hairdresser and a Funeral Director so all bases were covered!

And off we went, a very congested start which was the same route as the Memorial race so I tried to get as close to the front as possible. We then went through the 1st of several gates (and as David Langford said later, no one knows what the gate etiquette is). The 1st mile or so was through the woods and you needed to make progress whenever the opportunity arose. We then made our way into the grounds of Roche Abbey although I wasn’t much for sight seeing as I was too busy cursing how hot I was in my t-shirt and long socks). I knew I was the 1st Harrier at this point but knew the others wouldn’t be far away. We had a bit of a stepping stone feature and then more woods with a bit of field edges. We also had to contend with runners coming the other way but no real issues. I looked at my watch and 3 miles had passed and I let myself think ‘this isn’t bad’. Then it happened, the twist all the KMR races seem to have, a almost vertical steep climb. Burning legs followed and then onto another climb ahhhhhh!!! I admit I was almost at walking pace but the friendly Marshalls continued with their ‘well done Danum’ shouts, of which there is usually plenty at KMR’s. I managed to negotiate the climbs which then took us onto the last .75 mile which consisted of undulating field edges and trails through the woods. I had a Clowne runner on my tail but I was stubborn and managed to finish strongly to again shouts of ‘great run Danum’!. My watch said 4.42 miles with a time of 32.46 which didn’t tell the full story, a 486ft elevation gain made sure I had to work for it. David Langford was soon back (which after his Endure exploits was a great effort). The 2nd Dave followed the 1st Dave with Ben then finishing strongly shortly after. All 4 Harriers home in good time with plenty behind us.

I had a few people questioning my choice of sleeved T-shirt so I was able to tell my Lost Luggage with vest story to anyone happy to listen!

My favourite part of any KMR Race was now in sight, the buffet and they didn’t disappoint. A massive variety of pre packed sandwiches and homemade cakes on display and clever tactics required to get a good place in the queue.  I didn’t stick around for the prize giving but there is usually a good prize table.

Next KMR Race is Wednesday 17th July at 7pm – 5k from Milton Arms, Greasebrough. It woukd be great to have a blue & yellow invasion!!

KMR 5, Roche Abbey