Run Reports

Nene Valley 20, June 2021 – David Hayden

So I signed up to the Nene Valley 20 miler about Jan/Feb 2020 – well before you know what happened and a certain collision with another runner. It was originally scheduled for June 2020 – but we all know why it got pushed back to this year. As it happened was a good job as I couldn’t run 20 meters let alone 20 miles!!!

This run was one of the most stunning I have ever done. Set in the villages around the Nene Valley south west of Peterborough and nearly all off road it provided a gently undulating route. Old railway paths, riverside paths, paths through wheat fields, paths alongside linseed fields, a couple of locks and water mills and idyllic villages.

There were two options – a ten mile and a 20 mile. My mate who lives on the route persuaded me to do the 20miler – which actually turned out to be 21.4 miles – those last two miles were a killer, and then to add a real sting in the end of the run – having to run past the finish line for about 200meters and double back- just cruel!

The organisation was top notch. For an inaugural event it was faultless (well apart from that pesky 1.4miles at the end… but will forgive them that with the passing of time!). The marshals were brilliant – really, really brilliant and lots of them. The route was well signposted and a couple of drink stations – bananas and flapjacks to accompany the water. Every runner was told to bring their own containers – a brilliant example of reducing plastic and it was seamless at both stations (and a Donny local on the second one… didn’t catch her name I was starting to feel it by then!).

The start was in waves – I opted for the slow wave 9.20 set off. There were about 20 or so of us in the wave. Lots of “what time are you aiming for?” type conversations – most saying 4 -5 hours. In my head I was aiming for 3hours 30, but realising the weather may have other plans for me! We were called to the start line and the guy setting us off noticed the Harrier vest and said “Ah Danum – you’ve come a fair way!” And he pronounced it correctly. Told him so too! The start was in Fotheringhay right by the ruins of the castle where Mary Queen of Scots spent her final days before her execution after being moved from Sheffield Castle.

I was really pleased I had opted for the slow wave… I was able to keep a pace of just under 10 min mileing for the first 14 miles – a few times especially downhill went a bit too fast but reigned myself back in, I was determined to enjoy and take it steady. Plus, I really didn’t want to do any damage and go back to not being able to run at all! Whilst I was able to pass some other runners, I was mainly on my own, which I had not problem with. However, when I caught up and passed someone there was a brilliant sense of comradery. It was almost like we had this run for just us, a chosen few (I think about 120 people did the 20 miler).

The ground was really firm and dry (apart from one little boggy bit). I can imagine if it had been in May it would have been a different challenge underfoot! I started walking for about a minute or so every half mile from about mile 15 when the heat turned up and making sure I was taking in water. It got tough from mile 18, the walks were more frequent and longer. At 19miles I psyched myself up and got into a good rhythm and it was fairly shady. Just after 19 and half it started to dawn on me that it was a fair bit more than 20miles… one of the marshals said, “over the bridge and then you will see the church – the finish is just before it.” The church was there in the distance… across at least two fields that I could see… that was the worse bit, the lowest feeling.

Just as I hit 21 miles I could start to see the signs that I was near the end. The route had a narrow path that ran alongside the field where we started and finished, but the fence took us past the finish line, we had to go another 100meters before the chance to loop back. That was the second worse moment.

The finish was bliss, my calves were really tight – so lucky there was a chance of a sports massage at the end well worth the £5!

The facebook page for the run post event was full of so much praise, love and admiration for the organisers, three women from I think Spalding Harriers and lots of “when is next years dates!”

There was free camping options for both the Friday and the Saturday nights too!

My ‘official’ time hasn’t been released yet – it wasn’t a chipped run, but Strava told me 3 hours 51m 42s. I feel ok with that time, the walking at 20miles racked up a good extra ten mins – so I would not have been far off my 3h 30m which all things considering very thankful for.

Will I do it again – I sure will! Also, a good distance for anyone who has done a half and wonders if they can do a full marathon.

Namer of the Clouds: Cirrus 10K, June 2021 – Ben Hales

Namer of the Clouds is a new three-race series organised by Ackworth Road Runners to commemorate the town’s connection to the ‘Godfather of the Clouds’, Luke Howard. Though a chemist by trade, in 1802 the amateur meteorologist classified the clouds by their appearance, and his nomenclature is still used today.

The races are Cirrus 10 Kilometres, Cumulus 10 Mile and Stratus Half Marathon. This weekend me and Melissa Massarella headed to Frickley Colliery for the inaugural event, the Cirrus 10K. I’d checked beforehand what cirrus clouds were all about.

Cirrus are known to raise the temperature of the air beneath the main cloud layer, by an average of 10°C.

It was a baking hot Sunday morning in June. We arrived just ten minutes before the start. Dozens of Ackworth runners had congregated at Frickley Athletic football ground. After registering we went straight onto the spoil tip, now Frickley Country Park for a warm-up. Just a quick jog up one of the hills and we were sweating. This was going to be tough.

A large number of cirrus clouds can be a sign of an approaching frontal system or upper air disturbance.

We drifted into the starting pack. 135 runners had come to race, and it was great being part of a proper mass start for the first time in over a year – great atmosphere! With a blast of the pistol, we were off. There was no lightning pace though, and I found myself running near the front. The warm conditions soon disturbed my starting rhythm. By the end of the kilometer one, the first of several chasers approached and thundered past, as I settled into a more sustainable flow.

Cirrus clouds are wispy clouds found at high altitudes.

We ran on the old Frickley Colliery branch line, then down Frickley Lane, and back towards the Country Park, where hills awaited. One climb was dead straight, and I put in some effort to keep up all the way to the top, only to find more hills waiting round the corner. We descended the ‘hair-pin climb’ section of Frickley Parkrun, which inevitably meant we’d have to climb the steep downhill section which comes before it. I approached its foot. The runner in front was halfway up, walking! Could I get some lift? No rockets would carry me to the stratosphere today – I was also forced to walk this steepest part.

They may produce glories: an optical phenomenon, resembling a saint’s halo around the shadow of the observer’s head.

Back at the top of the spoil heap, a runner had almost caught me, so I had to work hard to keep my place. Getting shot by a burst from a kid’s water pistol was welcome, and I turned the final bend to concentrate on a runner in front, uncatchable. With a final sprint I made it over the line in 51:16 – 26th home. I waited for Melissa to finish, and she came home in 58:30 – 61st. We soon realised that our pace was faster than at our last race, Roche Abbey’s (not quite) 10K.

Thanks to Ackworth for putting on a friendly, well-organised race. We look forward to enjoying more ‘mon-soon’!

KMR #12 – Braithwell Boxing Day Race, December 2019 – Ben Hales

A vintage series

Nowadays you usually get to register online for races.

Yes, you pay extra for the payment technology, their marketing campaigns and another T-shirt you’ll hardly wear, but it’s simple and convenient and that’s the modern way to do things.

On the other hand, these twelve events are so old fashioned. They’re barely advertised and there’s no clothes giveaway. You have to fill in a piece of paper then hand over cash in a pub function room.

There’s certainly no chip timing. At this one they get the local farmer, decked in his best tweed to set runners off with a shotgun.

Last year’s Braithwell race was my first KMR experience. Naturally I ended up running most of this year’s series.

The events are informal yet traditional – organised by runners for runners. It’s a great buzz to come together as clubs to run with and against each other over varied routes and terrain. And there’s usually a buffet afterwards.

2019: Danum’s vintage year

The Harriers are developing a strong reputation in this tournament – Simon Raynor won his age category trophy in 2018 and this year Mick Plant had already won his before this final race had begun.

Series prizes are awarded by category for runners attending eight races or more. Dave Langford just had to turn up and clock eight to leapfrog the competition to win his, which he duly did.

I was on course to effectively come third in my category. There’d be no confirmation, no announcement and no trophy, but the chance to imagine stepping onto a podium was enough to spur me on to put in a strong effort.

The race 

Me, the indomitable Langford, series stalwart Plant and the indefatigable Raynor, recovering from cold, met at the Butcher’s Arms and soon found ourselves at the front of the huddle at the start line. A blast of the shooter and down the road we went, then over the trail section. Langford led, with Plant in pursuit, and Raynor following me.

After the off-road section it was a descent on tarmac into Stainton then an uphill slog for the rest of it. A few people passed me, but I saved enough energy for a burst at the end to retake a handful and knock nearly two minutes off my last year’s time.

Then it was back to the Butcher’s for drinks and trophies. Hope to see even more Harriers at next year’s series!

Kiveton Park Cross Country, November 2019 – Lynn Hutchinson

‘Twas my 3rd year doing cross country and this morning I’ll be honest, not sure if anyone could tell but I really wasn’t feeling it! Adi chapped the door so there was no going back! Off to pick Jo up then on our way to Kiveton park.

When we got there we were the first club to arrive. Not my finest hour attempting to make small talk with Keith Binney asking him where we pitch the gazebo as I was stood right beside the club tents sign!  I’ll not repeat what he said!  The rain came down even harder as I stood and watched Adi & Jo walking the area trying to establish the driest spot, really!  To be fair the gazebo flew up in record time and we were soon sat and spooning in no time  (Jo & I for those who haven’t seen Adi’s photo!).

The first harrier on the start line was young Lucas Sydney, and what a run and finish!! Super Syd!! Due to the awful conditions and needing to get her boys dry and warm they were off with a final swoosh of her Pom poms & great harrier shout out.

As midday approached the rain was getting heavier and after reluctantly taking outer clothes off it was time to sort my head out and us 6 girls headed to the start line with just enough time for a quick pic (thanks Kenny) .  The course had been shortened due to the flooded crossing point (thank goodness) ’cause boy was it tough. So much mud and it got worse with each lap, as we finished lap one I said to Jo that I felt sick and thinking I was going to lose a trainer in the thick mud Jo said something like (the polite version) “have we really got another 2 to do”.  Then off she went, a power house!! Us ladies had super support from the gents, I distinctly remember Christ Watson cheering me on with a wry smile looking at the state of me!  A third way round my final lap the chaps set off, with every slurpy step I awaited for them to catch me, then the super speedies were tearing past me, luckily I only had a short distance left then round the last bit to the finish line.  A cuddle with Tara & Jo followed by a wash in the puddle, a quick jumper and bobble hat donned, sausage roll (thank you so much Neil Costigan) and cuppa in my very cold hands we were off to cheer on the guys.

They were awesome, 4 long ridiculously muddy laps lead home by Mick P (on fire)! All harriers safely finished then Claire wanted a dip in the flooded crossing so Adi obliged and off they went for a dip, crazy!! Such amazing team spirit, ’tis the reason we do these crazy things.

As per usual we were the last club standing, Heather kept Mr Binney happy with a cake.  We’d seriously contemplated abandoning the gazebo (only kidding) however it was a struggle to collapse, poor Adi with frozen hands and Jo and I ‘trying’ to help (me with more giggles of hysteria than help) the gazebo was finally manhandled back to the van.

What a day, it started with me sooo not wanting to run, to omg I love this club and so glad I did it!!! Thank you Danum Harriers you’re all fab!!

Chase the Moon 10k, November 2019 – David Hayden

So last night (13th Nov) I did the ‘Chase the Moon 10k” at the Olympic Park in East London – one of the perks of staying away a lot I can check out local runs and races. Runthrough are the organisers – I did a “chase the sun” about 18 months ago which was at the same place. Anyway last night was my first attempt at seeing what I could do after what feels like a long absence – and have I got a 10k in me that can beat my time from the Caistor Sting in the Tail 10 K on July 7th this year, where Harry my ex hernia made himself known – I have cried with emotion at finishing a run before – but never ever with pain – don’t want to go back there!

I also wanted to do a run without any ‘pressure’ – don’t get me wrong I love being a Harrier – but the fact I could run where nobody knows me and there is no knowledge of my previous form really appealed – and could I do a time that would be acceptable to me at the up coming Donny 10k…. (however that didn’t quite go to plan- bumped into someone who recognised the top – shouted “Donny boy” and then told me he ran with Nicola Wilkinson on a weekend – didn’t catch the guy’s name as I was at the time coming out of the loo as he was going in…

The race was a joint 10k and 5k – about 500 runners in each race – both start at the same time – four laps around West Hams stadium and the Acelor Mittle tower and across some of the canals – the evening started off cold and the moon came out before the start of the run spot on cue. The route was a flat course – ideal for a pb – way off that thought! The start was staggered in terms of anticipated finish times – I had told myself under an hour – I was over an hour at Caistor – my pb last year at Donny was 46 something – knew that was unachievable in my current state – but beating Caistor was a start on my recovery. However – I couldn’t resist – went in on the under 55mins – already my plan coming undone!!

The first two laps were great – felt so good to be running at a fairly decent pace – although way off anything I was doing this time last year – 27 mins for the 5k – impressed with that thank you – then the rain started on the third lap – and towards the end – was joined by a fellow runner keeping my pace – and slowly got suckered in to keeping in step – she sped up – so did I – I absolutely loved the last lap – really felt good and strong – she pipped me at the last 50 meters – but I didn’t care – it was worth it – the clock said 51m 48 – so pleased with that – in fact ridiculously pleased with it… we shook hands thanked each other and then went off to get the medal water and other goodies including a big bag of bath salts! Pity the hotel room had a shower and not a bath – could have used them!!

The rain stopped as I headed back to the tube and the hotel I am staying at in Wimbledon – I felt really good – the legs ached – and that felt good to know they had been used – the niggles I am still feeling post operation behaved and I am having a bit of trouble with my left big toe – that behaved too! I check the results – chip time 50 min 28 seconds – whoop whoooooo and 199th out of 442 finishers and – get this 3rd – THIRD in my age category – having that!!!

I have missed not going to the club – really missed it – work and fitness keeping me away – but looking forward to Donny 10k and Edwinstowe meal – and finding ten pictures that Amanda Lane has challenged me to – not had the right state of mind to respond to the challenge – but I will have another think about that after last night…..

If ever you are in London – check out the RunThrough series of events – they are a good atmosphere and some brilliant places!