Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Hardmoors 110, Wray 10K , Marathon of the North.

So after March races I had very little in. I was in good form though with no niggles and running well.  To be honest I just wanted my 3 big races to start as soon as possible. Went over to see Kev and run in the Howgill’s with the intention of doing the Sedbergh sexy super six (six miles around Sedbergh as the name suggests) then running Hawkshead the next day. The spanner in the works of course was I didn’t know if I was free that weekend so hadn’t booked Hawkshead and now it was sold out. I toyed with the idea of just joining in from the back but then Kev mentioned the folk we were running with on the Friday in the Howgill were going to a 10K on the Saturday and I was welcome to join them. Now it’s a long time since I did a 10K some I thought why not.

WRAY 10K Scarecrow Festival.

What a lovely little 10K it turned out to be.  A small village enjoying a festival putting on a 10k to raise funds for various villages good causes.  The scarecrows ranged from traditional, to ingenious, bizarre and surreal. I love it as much as G’s kids! 

The race itself was around lovely little country roads and very hilly. I tried to keep up with G but she as too fast for me but I did give it my all which I haven’t done on a 10K for a long time, being too scared of picking up an injury by running fast. Great event the like off i should do a lot more of. I have G in my sights now for future races like this as well.

Marathon Of the North
The next day it was the Marathon of the North. I’d picked up a number a few days before as I wasn’t that fussed about a road marathon but thought I’d take it easy and enjoy the training. We parked up on the temporary grass parking area at the stadium of light, Sunderland football clubs home ground and of course my team place. Heck I can’t remember ever parking that near to the start of a marathon before. Into the stadium and all the toilets were open, tea and coffee were served and everyone could shelter till the race started. Have to say this is almost unheard of at most marathons. Toilets for all and refreshments before a marathon, crazy or what!  A few mags were prowling around grumping and looking for a horse to punch or phone box to wreck but by in large it was a great atmosphere.

Race away , heading over the wear bridge and over into Hendon which isn’t the most salubrious of neighbourhoods but was where my mum lived as a little girl until they were bombed out in the war. In fact the rest of the run was nearly all about my mum and I was getting a little emotional tbh. Barrack street (where they were bombed out), then my Aunts house, then up to Backhouse Park where mum would play , next to the  old Art department of Sunderland UNI  where sometimes I’d wait  for Alison  ( a previous girlfriend of 16 years who crazily I look upon almost like a sister now. How strange is that! )

Then past where mum was born,  Azalea Terrace North and wound our way to another of mums favourites, Barnes Park. The back to the bridge, loop the stadium and onto the North side of town. At this point I was thinking the marathon was quite flat but heck I was wrong. Not many hills I could think of and I know the place well I thought. Well I couldn’t have been more wrong. No big hills but lots of slow gradients I never knew existed! Along the sea front, down to the South Tyneside sign, then up sea road to the Mill and back (what a drag) then a loop around old Roker Park , another of mums favourites,  then back around to the Stadium.

All in all a wonderfully managed marathon and a pleasure to see a local city authority give all there support and backing for once. A pat on the back due there I think.

I crossed the line in an easy 4:16 clock time and was happy enough with that especially after the all-out 10k the day before recent long training runs like the D33 and Hardmoors 55 and a nice day out.

Then the shit hit the fan. The course was 200 odd metres short. From what I can gather and this may not be correct ,  a last minute change of start meant they had to include a zig zag of the Industrial estate next to the stadium to make up the difference. The lead car went off with Steve Cram (poor stevie , what with the keilder bus episode he must be holding his head wondering what an earth can happen next )  in and the first runner sprinted away from the field and out of sight. The poor Marshal who obviously had not been informed of the zig zag or made a mistake sent them off on the original course.

Well obviously to me this made no difference although later my time seemed to have gained 2 minutes and a club mate who I watched come in is listed as the same time as me somehow  but for some , especially those doing their first marathon they were fuming . LisaT (I know your reading this) is still having counselling and Muddy is still in the shed waiting it out .

It’s a real pity because as I said, I’ve rarely done such a well organised marathon and holding it from a stadium designed to cater for 40,000 people makes real sense. I’ve done a fair few road marathons and really some have had the most appalling organisation. I’m willing to forgive this transgression this time.

So that was the last training run for the Hardmoors 110 my first of three targets this year which were Hardmoors 110, West Highland Way95 and Lakeland100 , the Triple crown. Ambitious all in one year but what the hell. Actually, although I’m sure someone will come out of the woodwork but I don’t know anyone who has done them all in one year. I wasn’t the only one trying this though and my mate GarryS was also in the Triple Crown.

So it was a tad annoying two weeks before while out on my usual Saturday morning 5 mile run around Waldridge fell that my calf went stiff. To be honest as it was right as the end of the run I didn’t think much of it except that thank heavens I was stopping when it went.   

Still I was now tapering so I’m sure it was all right. A week later after no running, I was up to the wonderful Cateran trail Ultra race for a spot of marshalling and as I jogged round marking some of the course with K I could feel the calf stiffen up.

Still I had a smashing time that nobodys going to forget in a hurry :-) 

Not good. Had Fizz and he identified the sheath around the Achilles but said it was only grade one pull. If I was doing a 10K, marathon or similar I’d get away with it but this was I the lap of the gods.  
So Thursday eve before the Friday race I nipped away from the job I was doing, very near to where my pal Phoenix Lesley was brought up to run  a couple of miles but the calf stiffened up again. Bugger.
That’s that I said, can’t run. Got home and went to the pub. Next morning, race day I was miserable and Anna said, run if you like –see how far you get. Now I’d thought about this but I really didn’t want another DNF. But then I started thinking is DNF worse than DNS?  What if it just doesn't get any worse?  I know loads of people who never fail because they are to shit scared to try but I’m not one of them. That said , I don’t want another long term injury so it had to be balanced.

My support crew were fine even though I said there is every possibility I may only get to Cold Kirby (6 miles).

So I stared. Cold Kirby went by and so did the first major CP at 22 miles, Osmotherly. The calf had stiffened up but I was managing. I stared to think maybe I’d get away with this. Sure I’d had a few yelps of pain when landing wrong (no jumping anything,lead with the right leg down the hills& gently does it down the hills which i hate of course.), then about 37 miles in and after most of the major hills , on the lonely high moorland that is Bloworth crossing the calf went very stiff and I was limping. The game was up. Walked the 3 miles to Kildale CP and retired. Shite. 

Saltburn Sunrise

Oh well, I never seem to have much luck with this one which is a pity as it’s my favourite race and I’m closely linked to it. I’d been  running through thick clag all night but as Dave drove me back a beautiful sunrise appeared just to piss me off more.  GarryS pulled out at the same Cp as well just to make matters worse! Only 65% finished (which is higher than usual) and only 11 under 30hours which tell you something about the race.

Never mind, other races , other days, other triumphs etc.  If the calf heals I have two major races left. Next up west highland Way race as I said if the calf heals which it should in four weeks.  

Flipper is is then-  Lots of swimming. Hope Elle's in the pool again tonight. :-) 


  1. Was good to see you as ever, and G is getting quicker by the day!

  2. lol@punching a horse :) kilomathon we did recently finished in murrayfield stadium and I agree, it gives plenty space for runners to mingle/get changed etc
    see oyu in few weeks x

  3. Don't say that Kev !!

    Looking forward to it sandy. Who'd of thoguht both our calves would go eh xx

  4. I really do love that stadium pic.

  5. Bloody triple crown snatched away !! Hard luck to us both, but like you say other days other races and with boh having 40 mile training run in the legs 4 weeks before WHW we should be in fine fettle. Hope your calf is on the mend soon bro as WHW promises to be a fabulous weekend. Roll on the Double Crown :)

  6. Some great photos and an entertaining round-up of the year. Keep them coming.