Apr 142014

Near the finish [0828_71730]Finish 3 [0828_49435]

By Peter Persico

After reading the most excellent reports already written, I thought I’d briefly write of my reflections on the Manchester marathon, which would also be my first marathon.

My physical state in the weeks leading up to the marathon was not good. This was due to external factors that caused muscle cramps and muscle pain. I will not go into the details here, but this was perhaps then made somewhat worse due to me trying to continue with training. As a fan of doing ridiculous things and, despite some people actually recommending that I don’t actually run the marathon, I chose to go ahead and leave doubt at the start line. Besides which, I had paid to enter and wanted the t-shirt! On waking that morning, I didn’t feel too bad, and thought that I may be able to pull this off in a decent time. I had planned to start out with Dave Rayson and Laurence Lennon with whom I had done many runs, and thought that I may still be able to manage this at least for most of the marathon. However, after a few miles from the start, I realised that I’d need to slow down a little because my ankles were not as stable and strong as I’d need them to be to keep up the initial pace. I reluctantly drew back and settled into my own run.

When I got to the 10km mark, I thought I was going pretty well, but then a little after 7 miles, things started to deteriorate a bit more – one of my ankles became more problematic, and I no longer felt that it was supporting my weight as it needed to do to keep me moving at the speed I had been running. As a result, I slowed a bit more, but also varied my speed, going a bit faster when I could, but then slowing down more at certain points to allow my ankle time to take a break. I decided that I would keep moving forward though. Between the half-way point and mile 20, I think were the hardest part for me at least. I remember catching up to a Wetherby runner at about mile 15 or so and speaking to her for a little bit whilst moving forward. This was her 8th marathon, but she too, had an on-going foot problem and so was intermittently walking. We also talked briefly about multi-sport events since I had done a few duathlons and she had taken part in a few triathlons. After this pleasant interlude, I carried on forwards during this more difficult patch.

At mile 20, there was a fire engine. When I saw this, I thought that they might be spraying water at people, but it turned out that bubbles were being produced instead. I suppose it may have been a bit bad for them to be using water since Sheffield didn’t have any for their half-marathon run! At this point, they said “Keep going, only 6 more miles left”. I’d generally kept my mind focused on where I was in the marathon, not thinking about how far I’d come or how far I’d left to go. However, when I heard this, I thought that I’d give an extra push. I know I’ve heard it said a few times that the marathon begins at mile 20, but at this point, despite the dodgy ankles, I felt I could push a little bit more whilst I varied my speed, and still keep my mind on where I was at the time. From early on in the marathon, I had passed people walking, but from mile 20, there were considerably more people walking that I managed to pass, and some stopping to stretch or just to rest. Each time I passed someone either walking or having stopped, I thought, “I’m doing better than that one”. I admit, it’s perhaps not the nicest thought to have, but at the time it reminded me of an ex-soldier I met through work several years ago. He had entered the Berlin marathon with some others and they had been out drinking the night before. He said that each time they passed other runners that had either stopped or collapsed, he had the thought that he was doing better than them. I have to say also that whilst keeping my mind focused on where I was at the time, it was great to hear people shouting words of encouragement, especially using my name since that was on the race number. This gave an extra boost and helped keep me moving a bit quicker than I might have done. When I realised that the end was close, I decided to try and push it a bit more so that at the very least I’d get some good photos out of the marathon despite the slower time. The photos above I hope show that I was able to get some good photos and give a bit of a push at the end. After crossing the line, one of my first thoughts was slight annoyance that I’d been slower that I wanted and not quite quick enough at the end to get even a slightly better time. This was then followed by the thought that I’d do this marathon again next year and do it properly, do more longer runs, and avoid any external factors that would affect me. I would also definitely recommend this marathon to others. In fact, when speaking to one of the guys at cycle-clothing.co.uk the following day in their shop [they produced the Abbey cycling top], he said I’d convinced him to do a marathon next year, and he hasn’t been running for several months and has only run 5km – bonus!

Below are other sayings and quotes that went through my mind at various points during the marathon. I am pleased though that at no point did I entertain pulling out of the marathon!

  • “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” [Winston Churchill]
  • “Pain is temporary. It may last for a minute or an hour or a day, or even a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take it’s place. If I quit, however, it will last forever.”
  • “He who says he can and he who says he can’t are both usually right.”
  • “Don’t cry to quit. You’re already in pain, you’re already hurt, get a reward from it.” [Eric Thomas]
 April 14, 2014  Posted by at 11:10 am race reports Tagged with: ,  1 Response »
Apr 082014
Ali - Manchester 2014

Ali – Manchester 2014

Two firsts for me this week. My first marathon, and my first race report for Abbey. Not sure which will be more successful…you decide.

So, on Sunday, I, along with 11 other Abbeys including my other half Mike, took part in the Greater Manchester Marathon, the so-called fastest, flattest, friendliest marathon in the UK. Since joining Abbey 3 or so years ago, I had heard constant stories of marathon agony and ecstasy (but mainly agony) and had been increasingly filled with respect for my new club mates’ feats of endurance and superhuman achievement. It slowly dawned on me that those I thought were Greek gods and goddesses were in fact, despite appearances, mere mortals too, and decided that I couldn’t truly call myself a runner unless I had undergone the same rite of passage and attempted similar feats.

So, my destiny was sealed. After a couple of false starts, the date and venue was set – Manchester, 6 April 2014. Little did I know beforehand how running a marathon takes over so many of your waking moments and quite a number of your non waking moments too. How far is long enough for your longest run? How could you expect to run 26.2 miles in a race if you had only run 20 or 22 miles in training? What was the wall, how would I know if I hit it and would I be able to run through it or was that game over? What was “race pace” and how did I know how fast to train? How was I supposed to have a life alongside training? Should I carb load, and if so, how much was too much? What was a good “fuelling strategy” and how would I carry my gels during the race (bringing a new interpretation to the term “gel implants”)? Did good tapering include running a cross country relay two weeks beforehand? The questions were endless. It was at times like this though I appreciated the words of wisdom supplied to me by those very same Greek gods and goddesses (“If you are running into the wind, make sure you tuck in behind someone big” (Peter Leach), or “Don’t worry about a time, just enjoy it” (Hetta, although I have to say the inner competitor in me couldn’t quite bring myself to follow that one to the letter), “Half a mars bar just before and you’ll be fine” (Duncan), “Ignore Mike and run your own race” (just about everyone) – well, I try to make that my general approach to life anyway so no issues there!)

Anyway, all that good advice led me to the starting line at 9am on Sunday, in a slightly muggy and overcast Manchester, but dry. I had been pretty well glued to the BBC Weather forecast for the last 5 days, watching the picture deteriorate from “sunshine and showers” to “heavy showers” to “wet and windy” so I had resigned myself to the worst but was pleasantly surprised. We had stayed over the night before and were very grateful for that when Martin Jones pitched up looking more than a little hassled, having been turned away from his pre booked car park and having had to find somewhere else (I thought when he said he had been via Eccles he had gone for a last minute bit of carb loading, and was starting to worry I had missed a trick!).

Nerves were hitting as I stood on the start line. Having ignored the sage advice of Hetta about not going for a time I stationed myself near the 3.45 pacing group (but well away from Mike, I was sensible enough to follow that piece of advice to the letter), with a grand race plan of “stick as close to these guys as possible and just hang on” and a backup plan of “don’t get overtaken by the guy on the pogo stick”. And we were off.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m an accountant. I don’t tell many people that as it tends to mean I don’t make many friends. It also means I’m very boring and tend to stick to the rules. And I ran like a true accountant – even splits virtually from start to finish (with the first half only 1 minute faster than the second half), pre decided fuelling strategy (until my brain gave out after about 24 miles that is), stick to the 3.45 group. And, 3 hours 43 minutes and 43 seconds later, I found myself at the finish. Easy.

Of course, there was much more to it than that. I quite like big events, and there were about 8,000 or so taking part in this one. The atmosphere was amazing – there were very few bits of the route without spectators, I think most of the sweet emporiums of the North West must have sold out of Jelly Babies with the amount that were being handed out by the crowd en route. Some friends of ours had travelled up from St Albans to commemorate the occasion and provided much-enjoyed support at 9 and 16 miles, and much-needed support at 24 miles. I caught the occasional glimpse of a fellow Abbey amongst the competitors which was enough to keep the motivation strong, and by 18 miles I still felt amazing. Clearly I had followed the right advice on carb loading and tapering (thanks, Greek gods and goddesses). I was beginning to think that marathons were all a conspiracy by runners to make it seem as though they were tough, and that really they were a walk in the park. Hmm. I now understand what they mean when they say the marathon begins at 20 miles. It is amazing how quickly you go from feeling on top of the world to adopting a running style more like Simon Pegg in ”Run Fat Boy Run” (albeit without the hot pants). Luckily just at that point I was with the 3.45 pacing group so I was able to just focus on not letting them get away. By the time they did manage to pull a few metres away from me, I was well over the 24 mile point and was, as they say, “digging in” (which I believe is the short way of saying “hauling my sorry self along, millimetre by millimetre, looking like the living dead”). Yet again the support of the crowd was fantastic, the amount of unknown spectators, who, obviously seeing the harrowed look on my face (and my name on my race number) shouted “Come on Alison, you can do it” warmed the heart and gave that little boost of energy to the legs.

Eventually we turned the corner into Sir Matt Busby Way and saw the finish line in sight. I bounded gracefully the last few metres with the air of a freed gazelle (or at least that’s how it will live forever in my memory, and I’ll be destroying any evidence that suggests otherwise) until, at last, I crossed the line. I had to have serious words with my legs to get them to stop moving and believe the race was over, but stop they did and I made it through to the “recovery zone” where I was gradually reunited with my fellow Abbeys, in various states of delirium and depression. We dissected the race and shared our highs and lows, our PBs and PWs, our chafes and strains, aches and pains – in short, did all the things that makes being part of a club so great in these situations.

I never knew any hobby could be so painful. How long till I can do the next one…..?

 April 8, 2014  Posted by at 7:04 pm race reports 1 Response »
Apr 072014

The Abbey Dozen by Lynn Taylor

In the end the rain held off until most of us had crossed the line and the conditions were about as good as they get for marathon running, although perhaps a little warm for those acclimatised to long run training through the winter.

As a test of the Abbey team efficiency we failed at the first logistical hurdle, all of us being in the right place at the right time for a group photo, hence those who are Facebook fans will note there are some missing faces from the group shot.

abbey at mcr2014

Nevertheless we all made it to the start line settled into our respective pens. For a race that is fairly new on the calendar the Manchester Marathon has grown steadily and now attracts 10,000 odd entries. I’m not sure how many actually raced on the day as we’re still waiting for a full list of results to be published.  From the green pen, where I was stationed with Peter, Laurence and Dave, making up the back four, it took almost five minutes from the gun time to crossing the chip timing mats.

The race is advertised as flat and fast and it was pretty flat – the fast I guess depends on your legs and your stamina.  The route takes you from Old Trafford (where some football team is based apparently) out through Sale and Timperley to Altrincham and back to finish just outside the stadium.  For large parts of the route you can see the rest of the field running past in the opposite direction which provides an opportunity to cheer on your fellow club runners or to keep an eye on where the competition is.

The local support is great, lots of spectators offering cheers and various treats to aid you on your way.  At several points there were musical interludes to distract you from the monotony and the pain.  There were plenty of drinks stations which offered water in handy little pouches – the first time I have come across these and I thought they were really good, much better than cups and bottles.  There were timing mats at 10K, 10 mile, half marathon and 20 mile points, although I missed any race clocks along the way if they were there.  I also missed a lot of the mile markers as I’m not used to these being in white rather than yellow and they just didn’t stand out – also I may have been looking down in dropped head mode for much of the race.

In terms of organisation, as always the marshals along the route were great, the baggage store was a bit haphazard with some people waiting ages to collect their bags and others being served immediately, no seating in the changing area (which presented a challenge almost as hard as the race itself!) and, as always, long toilet queues at the start furthering those pre-race nerves.  All in all I would recommend the race for those wanting a good marathon time and not wanting to travel too far from home.

And how did the Abbey team equip themselves. Well some excellent performances from first timers and from some of the more experienced in our midst.  Some people had a good day some people have had better days, but in all it was a great team effort.

Our chip times in finishing order were:

Martin Jones 3:29:11
Mike Smith 3:41:09
Gary Brownbridge 3:43:30
Alison Smith 3:43:45
Jane Hallam 3:47:03
Martin Browne 3:56:18
Amanda McNaboe 3:56:34
Bev Benjamin 3:59:58
Lynn Taylor 4:09:52
Dave Rayson 4:11:46
Laurence Lennon 4:27:10
Peter Persico 5:05:44
 April 7, 2014  Posted by at 5:34 pm race reports Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Mar 272014
The 1st official outing of the New Abbey Runners cycling top [a.k.a. Abbey Riders]

The 1st official outing of the New Abbey Runners cycling top [a.k.a. Abbey Riders]

Wake up time of 0400! Some may think that this isn’t necessarily a problem, others may think that at this time one should still be sleeping, and some may fall in-between these 2 views. Whatever my or your view on this matter, that was the time I had to wake up and, somewhat to my surprise, I didn’t feel too bad; perhaps this was due to my brain not yet realising what was happening! I’d generally prepared everything the night before, so after a decent breakfast I loaded the car and set off. Part of the reason for getting up so early was so that I could register that morning from 0730 rather than going up the day before and then leave the necessary items in the transition area before 0900. Having a poor performance the week before in a 10k run due to painful and cramping muscles that started a week earlier, I was hoping that my legs would have recovered enough, but I was still slightly nervous about this issue.

Stokesley is a small market town near Middlesbrough that had set up the transition area and start/finish area by the town hall. There was music playing and plenty of onlookers about for a Sunday morning. All those taking part appeared to be busying themselves with preparation, including the all-important bathroom stop. Whilst standing in the starting area, I was shivering whenever the wind stepped up, but figured I’d eventually warm up. This event was the first official outing of the new Abbey Runners cycling top [a.k.a. Abbey Riders], which can be seen in the photo above. It is quite snazzy, and I hoped it made me look as if I knew what I was doing.

Run 1

The first run was a simple out-and-back 5km course. The route went briefly along the small riverbank before heading out to the industrial estate where the turn-around point was stationed. I set off amongst the crowd and seemed to be going quite well. At one point I glanced down at my watch and noticed the time, and thought I better slow it down just a bit. Maybe I should have just run rather than have some concern about my pace so early on, and I am trying, but I also didn’t want to blow it following my previous muscle difficulties. Whilst out on this run, I encountered some people wearing Valley Striders tops, and we exchanged a few words; I’d seen at least 6 of them at the start. The run was generally uneventful and quiet. There were a few people out walking and a few cars passing by, but since it was near the industrial estate, there wasn’t much going on and not much scenery unless you count the many varied garb of other runners. Coming back into the transition area, the noise was louder and it was time to focus intently in order to transition as effectively as possible. This aspect is something that I’ve not really practised, but in my mind, I knew what I had to do, that is, quickly switch from running gear to cycling gear and crack on! My time in transition 1 was quicker than the previous 2 duathlons that I have completed. My run time was only slightly slower than my quickest time in a parkrun in the last quarter of 2013, so that made me quite pleased, especially since I had to cycle and then run again, and because I still felt strong.


The cycle route was 30km on open roads. Although I’ve cycled a lot on open roads, both the duathlons I’d entered previously were not on open roads; Stockton had closed roads, and Oulton Park was round a race track. This meant I would need a broader focus. The cycle route left the town along the High Street and headed out to Hutton Rudby, with a nice drop and then a short, sharp climb to get into the village green in Hutton Ridby.  The route had several fast descents and sharp climbs. During the safety briefing, we were told to be careful on the descent into the village because at the bottom of the hill on the corner where we turned was a church and it was a Sunday morning. Apparently, some cyclists in the past have collided with church-goers despite there being plenty of signs up stating that a cycling event was taking place! At the end of the village, the route headed out towards Potto and onto more hills; the scenery was quite good though! We continued until we joined the A172, which did not have a slip road, but did have fast moving traffic. After 3 miles, there was a left incline junction leading back into Stokesley. On the first lap, we had to turn at this point before starting the 2nd lap. On the 2nd lap, I began thinking that I know exactly what is coming up – those hills. Instead of turning off as we did on the 1st lap, we were to continue straight on along the A172 for a further mile or so before turning into Stokesley at the roundabout and into T2. I’d bought some aerobars for my bike to also help make me look like I knew what I was doing, and also because it does help with aerodynamics. I did enjoy using them on the descents and the long stretch of A172, although I was a bit wary using them on some of the descents. During the cycle ride, there was a chronic headwind, which made the cycling that bit harder. If there was any tailwind, I didn’t notice. Despite this, I think I had a pretty good cycle except for one point after a descent, there was an incline, and I shifted the wrong gear lever a few times in quick succession before realising my mistake! I managed to pass quite a number of other people, especially on the uphill sections and on some of the flatter bits. Going along the main road did make passing other cyclist more challenging. The rules of drafting and overtaking say you can enter the drafting zone of 7m and then have 15 seconds to make a pass, otherwise you have to drop back. If you are caught drafting, there are severe penalties, which include time penalties and disqualification. Trying to pass people whilst avoiding traffic coming from behind you was definitely a challenge. During the whole cycle route, I didn’t actually take a drink; I was worried about falling off or crashing. However, I didn’t particularly feel I needed to consume water. Some people had been more creative, and strapped a water bottle to their aerobars and had a straw angled up so they could sip water. This seemed a good idea, but I wonder if some of the water bottles I saw on the route belonged to these people having fallen off. Thankfully, as I was coming back into Stokesley, I managed to time my pace to miss the red light at the pelican crossing; another cyclist wasn’t able to do so and had to stop. The photo below shows me coming into T2 having just dismounted. I was not looking at the camera, but was more focused on my time and efficiency, at least that’s what I think/hope I was doing.

Arriving into T2

Arriving into T2

 Run 2

Charging out of T2

Charging out of T2

The 2nd run was the same as the first, that is an out-and-back 5km run. Prior to leaving T2, I did have a very quick drink of my water. I’ve not done any proper brick sessions for a while to help me transition from running to cycling and from cycling to running, but my training in the gym does include a lot of leg work that serves the same purpose, just more intensely and effectively. As a result, having racked my bike, taken off my helmet, and changed my footwear, I was able to run out of transition without any major difficulty. The photo above shows me charging out of T2. Again, I’m not looking at any cameras, but quickly checked the time because there was some running to be done. Shortly after this picture was taken, I realised I’d not turned the race number round to the front as you should, so I slowed whilst I began fiddling with this for a few seconds before speeding up once more. Unfortunately, at just after the turn-around point, my muscles began to hurt. I was annoyed by this, but glad that they had not gone off earlier in the event. My muscles are still recovering, but weren’t quite there yet. Still, I managed to keep going and was only 3 minutes slower on the 2nd run than I was on the 1st run over the same course. I suppose this means I can’t overly berate myself for this little difference. Coming up to the finish line, I was focused on just one thing – getting across the line. The photo below shows me running towards the finish. I was subsequently told by a marshal that the photographer had tried to get me to smile and/or give a thumbs-up as I got to the finish line. I didn’t even notice the photographer as I was approaching; like I said, I had only one thing on my mind, so I hope he wasn’t too annoyed or disappointed. Or perhaps I need to work on celebrating finishing and a suitable pose!

Finish line in sight

Finish line in sight

The End

Overall, I was pleased at the finish. This was my best performance out of the 3 duathlons that I have completed, and I did actually enjoy the event. Whilst in the transition area after finishing, I spoke with a few other people about the event. I do find it good that these events have a friendly atmosphere between entrants, not unlike the obstacle/mud runs that I have completed. The buzz you get from this and from crossing the finishing line are great, and it it amplified because of others there who are generally feeling the same way. The next duathlon I’ve entered is at the end of April, 3 weeks after the marathon, so I hope to enjoy that one as well.

Video footage

Just in case anyone is interested, I can be seen coming into the finish at 9 minutes 35 seconds of this video. I’m not running as smoothly as I could [or at least think I can], but like I said, by this point my muscles were causing me some discomfort.


 March 27, 2014  Posted by at 12:11 pm race reports Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »
Jan 212014

Report by Sharon Williams

This was my first road race of the New Year and I was looking forward to a welcome break from the muddy and boggy Haworth fells (The Stoop and Auld Lang Syne) and recent Peco cross country races and a break from cleaning my fell and trail shoes. As I travelled towards York it was pouring with rain and my heart sank, 13.1 miles is a long way  in sodden running gear and wet feet.

Following the farce of  the race entry system and trying to enter last year, I eventually got to the rain soaked start at York racecourse. I spotted our newly elected President, Martin Browne cheering everyone on as I splashed over the starting mats. The route is fast and flat, heading southwards through Bishopthorpe, Acaster Selby, Appleton Roebuck and back through Bishopthorpe to finish behind the Racecourse grandstands. I had run the race in 2010 and was disappointed by the lack of atmosphere because you are a good distance from the city of York. There were quite a few spectators out on the course and after a few miles the downpour stopped which made the race more enjoyable. A bit of sidestepping was needed because there were plenty of large pools of water on the roads. I haven’t raced over this distance for awhile and was anticipating cramp and my legs seizing up in the latter stages of the race. The finish was a welcome sight and I finished in 1.35.53 and 1st F50. Other Abbey performances and results below. New member, Nick Rank, wasn’t in the club results but finished in a speedy 1:33.09. The winner,  Matthew Peirson from Holmfirth Harriers works in Up and Running on Otley Road, Far Headingley. I happened to mention I had entered the Brass Monkey, he happened to mention he has previously won the race!

Some familiar faces on the day included, ex Abbey Runners,  Matt John (Otley AC) who finished 2nd and Andy May (Valley Striders) 11th.

Some positives if anyone chooses to enter next year’s race.  There was plenty of parking spaces and I didn’t get my car stuck in a ditch  like I did at Auld Lang Syne (thanks again to Richard Foster, John Fortescue, Mike Ayers and some sympathetic fell runners who got me out!). It’s flat, scenic and a good opportunity to get a PB,  several water stations and a nice high viz long sleeved technical top at the finish.  Some negatives, the entry system needs to improve and if the race gets cancelled there are no refunds  and you have to make your way over to York to collect your running top. Maybe that ‘s the same for other big road races but it doesn’t encourage to me to enter again. BUT DON’T LET ME PUT YOU OFF! LOL

Full results can be found on http://www.ukresults.net/ and http://www.sportsystems.co.uk.  Photos on www.flamingphotography.co.uk

sAlison SmithDavid NahalGail TombsGraham MyersGreg WeatherheadJim WhittakerJohn WardLiz WillisNickSam BlackSarah Culkin



Position           Name                                                Age Group               Club                                                   Chip time

1st male Matthew Peirson M Open Holmfirth Harriers AC 01:10:19
1st female Jilly Woodthorpe F35 Barnsley AC 01:15:57
50 Graham Myers M Open Abbey Runners Leeds 01:19:28
71 Greg Weatherhead M Open Abbey Runners Leeds 01:21:17
430 Sharon Williams F50 Abbey Runners Leeds 01:35:53
452 James Whittaker M45 Abbey Runners Leeds 01:36:26
547 Michael Smith M40 Abbey Runners Leeds 01:39:20
565 David Nahal M50 Abbey Runners Leeds 01:40:11
624 John Ward M60 Abbey Runners Leeds 01:42:05
700 Alison Smith F40 Abbey Runners Leeds 01:44:23
734 Sarah Culkin F Open Abbey Runners Leeds 01:45:11
804 Elizabeth Willis F45 Abbey Runners Leeds 01:47:18
1035 Gail Tombs F60 Abbey Runners Leeds 01:55:43
1253 Maureen Taylor F55 Abbey Runners Leeds 02:05:12
1459 Samuel H Black M65 Abbey Runners Leeds 02:44:26


1462 finishers




 January 21, 2014  Posted by at 9:17 am race reports Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Jan 082014

by Richard Foster

For the first time since I joined the club, the Stoop Fell Race didn’t clash with the Peco XC races, so since I hadn’t done it before, I headed over to Haworth for some Woodentops fell racing mayhem, with fellow Orienteer and Ilkley Harrier Jack Wood also tagging along for a lift. It was also to be my 100th race of the year.

My legs felt dead before we even started as we warmed up around the quarry due to having done a parkrun and a night orienteering race the day before as part of my stupid 100+ races in 2013 challenge (for more details see below – if you really want to know), and there was a cold wind that was blowing off the tops that made me glad of the obligatory kit requirement of having to wear a Santa Hat (provided) during the race.

After the slightly less than usual number of shouts of “GET BACK!”, we were told “if you don’t know the way, follow Tom (Adams)” – so on the shout of “GO!”, 401 of us did just that, at varying degrees of distance behind.

I’d had a look at the race route beforehand, but having not raced it, I wasn’t entirely sure which bits were runnable etc – Tim Jacobs had told me that this was one of the few fell races that he’d run every single step of, so this was presented as a challenge not to walk any of it. I therefore started too far back in the field and too steadily, as for the first half of the race I was having to surge past slower runners on the narrow tracks – not good on tired legs. Once on the top though, it was quickly around the Stoop standing stone and with the wind behind you, it was a fast descent back towards Penistone Hill, although again I got caught up with slower runners in front of me. I did know the run in towards the finish and so, despite tired legs and the slight bit of uphill, I just dug in and finished as fast as possible, finding quite a deep, wet hole to fall into en-route.

Mention should go to Dom, who had a phenomenally good run to finish 34th – once place ahead of Olivia Walwyn and beating some other very good fell runners in the process, although he would have been even quicker had he not slipped 400m from the finish and gashed his shin on something resulting in a nice hole….

New Year’s Eve brought the only serious way to end the year – a fell race. This time, the Auld Lang Syne, which as with all Woodentops races starts from Penistone Hill. This time it was Mike, John and myself that headed over together and a blustery, but not particularly cold day. It was nice to see the heavy shower that was forecast came over whilst we were sitting in the car beforehand, rather than as would be usual, just as we started to congregate for the start.

This race brought far more of Dave W’s usual “GET BACK YOU LOT” shouts as we lined up for the start. Unusually for me, I’d pushed my way pretty close to the front, as so got a pretty good start out of the quarry and down the road, which meant that I actually hit the first single track with room (it’s often quicker here going down the road to the junction on this race, even though it’s a lot longer). I got passed by a few heading up the Brontë Way, but was going well in general. I was cautious down the fields, as last year it had been very slippy, but this year it wasn’t too bad despite all the rain we had. The slog out of Sladen Beck was as hard work as usual and I struggled to get going again up the Pennine Way, and the group I’d been with started to work away from me here, but I just couldn’t keep with them. It remained a bit of a struggle all the way up to Top Withins Ruin, although I did have enough breath to have a very quick chat with Alistair Brownlee as he trotted past – he’d decided to run the route as a training run after starting the race (and giving us all a generous 5min head start) – it’d be great to run at that speed on a training run!

Once on the top I started to feel better and stretch out a bit more. I even took a few places back on the descent. Then it was all about hanging on to places back down the fast section down the track and the fields once again – this time the steep field we’d come up early was rather muddy and slippy (unsurprisingly really!) and it was about keeping one’s feet down to the beck. The slog back out up to the track again on the other side was ok.

Once I’d got here, I knew what was to come and just put my foot down along the track onto the Millennium Way – using those in front to work off and gain a few places in the process before over the road and back onto Penistone Hill to finish another enjoyable race and 104 for the year,

Post-race fun involved digging Sharon’s car out of a ditch where it had got stuck before the race….

So…100+ races- why? This came about when a friend from orienteering asked me how many races I’d done – at that point it was July and I’d done about 50, so he asked me if I was going to go for the ton. This unconsciously put the thought in my head and from then on I had to do it. For those interested, I managed 104 races – 28 informal orienteering (‘O’) races, 10 “Terrain” (woods/fell) O races, 15 Urban and Sprint O races, 4 Long Fell, 8 Medium Fell, 9 Short Fell, 4 XC, 6 Trail, 13 Parkruns, 1 Track race, 2 Mountain Marathon, 3 Road and 1 Aquathlon.

For self-consistency purposes, a race by my definition is any event that publishes the results with positions and/or times. (Hence Parkrun = race, and a mountain marathon = 2 races as there are individual results for each day).

Now I’ll have to see how many I do in 2014 – I reckon 120/130 is easily doable….



The Stoop                                22nd December 2013                  8km/250m

1.              Tom Adams                                            Ilkley                 30.51

35.              Olivia Walwyn                F                      Altrincham         37.46

34.              Dominic Nurse              MV40                Abbey              37.39

99.              Richard Foster                                      Abbey              41.41

143.            Timothy Jacobs            MV40                Abbey              43.47

218.            Alan Hirons                   MV40                Abbey              48.04

234.            Sharon Williams            FV50                Abbey              48.53

271.            Liz Casey                      FV50                Abbey              51.02

303.            Helen Nurse                  FV40                Abbey              53.50

402 Finishers


Curly Wurly Rat Runs               22nd December 2013

U8 Race                                                                                    0.5mi/100’

1.              Christopher Brown                                 Clayton             2.53

13.              Lizzie Nurse                   1st G                 Abbey              3.37

67 Finishers


U10, U12 & U14 Races                                                              1mi/150’

1.              Jimmy Lund                  U14                  KCAC               6.38

16.             Ben Nurse                     U14                  Abbey              7.43

122 Finishers


Auld Lang Syne                       31st December 2013                  9.6km/300m (actually 10.8km!)

1.              Tom Addison                                        Helm Hill           42.09

39.              Holly Page                    F                      CVFR               50.41

87.              Richard Foster                                      Abbey              54.34

157.            Timothy Jacobs            MV40                Abbey              58.53

177.            John Fortescue             MV50                Abbey              60.19

191.            Sharon Williams            FV50                Abbey              61.07

194.            Mike Ayers                    MV50                Abbey              61.12

215.            Alan Hirons                   MV40                Abbey              63.00

227.            Catriona Purdy              FV40                Abbey              63.52

252.            Leanne Hague               FV40                Abbey              65.30

289.            Liz Casey                      FV50                Abbey              68.70

322.            Stella Cross                  FV50                Abbey              71.42

337.            Mark Hetherington         MV50                Abbey              72.53

425 Finishers


DSC_0810 DSC_0849 DSC_0735

Photos courtesy of Mick Fryer (via Woodentops)


 January 8, 2014  Posted by at 2:47 pm race reports Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Jan 012014

Chevin Chase race report by Jim Whittaker

26 December 2013

This is turning out to be one of my race highlights of the year.  It’s not every day you get to race alongside one or both of the Brownlee Brothers.  And it’s through the Chevin Forest!  And it’s on Boxing Day (a day when you would otherwise do not a right lot).

The race starts in Guiseley and the first mile or so is a road climb before taking a path off up into the Chevin.  The next four or five miles are constantly undulating, and if you ever wanted to know what an extreme PECO XC course with extra tracks may feel like, well, this is it.  Steep rocky-ish descents plus unrelenting steep climbs (particularly the one around mile five).  Running conditions were perfect apart from a bit of ice.

Despite the rural location, there were many spectators, and this year we got cheers from our Comms Officer, Andy Wickes, plus former Abbey, Andy May.

It was a formidable Abbey turnout (26!!), with some excellent performances on the day.  Sharon Williams (dressed as a Christmas pud) finished second in her age category.  Sarah Grant and Duncan Clark both came third in their respective categories.  Rachel Mackie gave another assured performance.  I thought I was going to pass her at one point but it I couldn’t match her stamina in the last couple of miles.

A superb and enjoyable race.  Highly recommended.  And I only finished 17 minutes behind Jonny Brownlee.  Next time….

Position Race No Competitor Name Gender Category Cat Pos Club Finish Time Chip Time
1 1 Jonny Brownlee Male Open 1/161 Bingley Harriers 00:39:02 00:39:01
56 599 Duncan Clark Male Vet 50 3/79 Abbey Runners 00:47:22 00:47:18
76 700 Son of John Ward Male Vet 60+ MINUS 40 yrs 1/38 hmmm Abbey Runners 00:48:26 00:48:24
86 146 Richard Foster Male Open 33/161 Abbey Runners 00:48:52 00:48:48
109 447 Sean Maccarthy Male Vet 45 18/114 Abbey Runners 00:49:54 00:49:50
110 557 John Halliwell Male Vet 50 10/79 Abbey Runners 00:49:56 00:49:52
211 1047 Sarah Grant Female Vet 40 3/71 Abbey Runners 00:53:50 00:53:42
220 329 Timothy Jacobs Male Vet 40 35/95 Abbey Runners 00:54:10 00:53:53
234 1150 Sharon Williams Female Vet 50 2/48 Abbey Runners 00:55:03 00:54:51
238 575 Ian Patchett Male Vet 50 17/79 Abbey Runners 00:55:32 00:55:20
262 999 Rachel Mackie Female Vet 40 5/71 Abbey Runners 00:56:13 00:56:01
271 444 James Whittaker Male Vet 45 45/114 Abbey Runners 00:56:33 00:56:16
274 432 Robert Jackson Male Vet 45 47/114 Abbey Runners 00:56:38 00:56:34
326 322 Martin Jones Male Vet 40 47/95 Abbey Runners 00:58:22 00:57:59
356 887 Eleanor Walker Female Open 18/81 Abbey Runners 00:59:21 00:59:02
389 1087 Bev Benjamin Female Vet 45 11/70 Abbey Runners 01:00:17 00:59:49
399 994 Alison Smith Female Vet 40 9/71 Abbey Runners 01:00:31 01:00:03
423 336 Michael Smith Male Vet 40 57/95 Abbey Runners 01:01:13 01:00:45
447 991 Leanne Hague Female Vet 40 13/71 Abbey Runners 01:01:59 01:01:06
485 1190 Liz Casey Female Vet 50 11/48 Abbey Runners 01:02:52 01:02:23
520 1235 Stella Cross Female Vet 50 13/48 Abbey Runners 01:04:18 01:04:07
535 1138 Elizabeth Willis Female Vet 45 20/70 Abbey Runners 01:04:45 01:04:27
565 1226 Gail Tombs Female Vet 60+ 1/8 Abbey Runners 01:05:47 01:05:39
670 645 David Beston Male Vet 55 34/40 Abbey Runners 01:09:29 01:09:16
733 1114 Ruth Dorrington Female Vet 45 41/70 Abbey Runners 01:12:15 01:11:36
761 949 Shabina Bhatia Female Vet 35 36/60 Abbey Runners 01:13:29 01:12:33
795 517 Alastair White Male Vet 45 108/114 Abbey Runners 01:15:02 01:14:25
962 ran

1512750_10151907604400892_1050961665_n 1520812_10151907604730892_198717608_n 996683_10151907604960892_1484332992_n 1545917_10151907605055892_619240271_n 1538823_10151907605750892_496610057_n 1146493_10151907606025892_1605668605_n

 January 1, 2014  Posted by at 10:56 am race reports Tagged with: ,  1 Response »
Dec 102013

Last Sunday (8th Dec) should have been the Calderdale Way Relay (until they decided to go soft and switch it to May), and I had a hankering for a bit of Calderdale Winter fell racing, so I decided to head over to Mytholmroyd to do the eponymously named fell race that had switched places in the calendar with the CWR.

This is a race I’d never done previously, so that was also a good reason to head over, and make it my 94th race of 2013.  No other Abbeys in attendance, but there were friendly faces in the shape of fellow Airienteer, Ian Nixon, and Dave McGuire from Hyde Park and Shane Ewen from Otley.

The race starts with a lovely steep climb straight up Wicken Hill from Mytholmroyd centre. A locked padlock on a gate meant a slightly shortened start and a charge up the first steep climb to make sure that there wasn’t too much queuing at the first kissing gate about 200m in! The steep slog continued up through the fields and over stiles and then up onto the moorland to a road, before a shorter, less steep climb onto the open moor proper and to join the Calderdale Way on the shoulder of Cock Hill.

After a mile and about 270m of climbing, the gently undulating section across the top of the moor around Crow Hill was really nice. A nice, clear day allowed some great views down the valley towards Halifax and over Luddenden Dean with Ovenden Moor wind farm in the background. The moorland section was followed by a muddy, slippery, fairly steep drop down into Luddenden Dean and required concentration all the way down.

A mile or so of interminable farm track along the valley to Castle Carr gatehouse before the second major climb. By this point, my legs were starting to feel very tired and heavy after parkrun, hockey and a night-orienteering race on the Saturday, and the climb up the steps back onto the fell on Wadsworth Moor was a real slog. The run across the top wasn’t much easier, as the breeze that had been behind us earlier, was now a stiff headwind and it was head-down and keep pushing. I did manage to get my head up in time to have a look down the valley towards Stoodley Pike and Todmorden though!

The route now rejoined the Calderdale Way and followed it as it contours around the edge of the moor beneath Cock Hill and round to the top of Wicken Hill. Then it was a return down the steep climb back the way we’d climbed up onto the moor at the beginning of the race, again with some muddy, slippery slopes to contest with, before finally finishing back down in the woods at Mytholmroyd.

A quick dip in the Rochdale canal to wash the mud from my shoes and it was back to the Community Centre for a shower and cup of tea.

I’d really recommend this race to anyone who wants an introduction to Calderdale fell racing – it’s very much in a similar type of character to the CVFR Coiner’s race run on the other side of the valley – a combination of steep climbs and nice open moorland running. It’s also fully flagged, so unless the weather is really horrendous, navigation isn’t an issue either. It’s just a shame that it’s not still held in May – it’d really benefit from some drier, faster running conditions underfoot on the narrow trods, whereas the Calderdale Way Relay could benefit from the extra mud found in December!


1.   Joseph Crossfield            M                CVFR                  48:46
26. Sally Newman                  FV50          CVFR                 58:34
51. Richard Foster                 M                Abbey                 63:16
108 finished

 December 10, 2013  Posted by at 12:30 pm race reports Tagged with:  No Responses »
Nov 202013

Well,after four years of trying, we finally made the race,although it was in doubt until the last moment when I had a back spasm getting out of bed on Saturday morning, race day.

Lisa’s mum drove us the short distance up the valley to the race start in the hamlet of Capelulo. It was an uphill start which lasted for around 40mins ,then it levelled out at Penmaenmawr quarry,dropping down to a mile or so of running through bogs. A lovely,clear morning we were afforded fine views of Conwy Bay and Anglesey.

Indeed Anglesey is the only place we saw en-route that I can actually pronounce !  See fluent Welsh language speaker Lisa for the rest of ‘em .Foel Lus,Cerrig Gwynion,Cefn Coch. yes exactly !

What I can manage to pronounce however  is ‘ steep donkey track’ and that is what the last half mile to the finish was. Please don’t let me stumble here and make an ass of myself on the donkey track.

The race was ten and a half mile, B category,tough without being too extreme for Lisa’s fell racing debut, and we finished it in 2hrs 09mins

Oh by the way,Lisa’s mum had recorded the Snowdonia Marathon for us to watch on the Friday evening and yes Andy we did see you !  and also a very fleeting glimpse of Richard too.

 November 20, 2013  Posted by at 10:10 pm race reports Tagged with:  No Responses »
Nov 152013

By Peter Persico

painbarrier 2014 - location 2 - PB2_0563

Hello again! A mere 2 days after running the Chevin Chiller [the Halloween night run on Otley Chevin], I embarked upon this particular run for the second year in a row. The Pain Barrier at Parkwood is described as a 10km mud race set amongst 100 acres of off-road wood and parkland.  The course twists and turns across a variety of terrain so you find yourself running along muddy tracks and open fields, through woodland, across ponds and water obstacles and tackling steep hills and ravines.  The ponds and streams are cold, wet, and very muddy.

Parkwood is located in the village of Tong, Bradford, and only 4 miles from both Leeds and Bradford City Centres. Last year, the Pain Barrier run at this location was at the beginning of December [2012]. During this run, we had to go through water filled with ice and deal with much colder temperatures. This year, the run had been moved forward to the 2nd November meaning that it was slightly warmer. Despite this, there had still been a fair amount of rain in the days leading up to this run resulting in plenty of mud and water.


Course detail

The Pain Barrier is not the same as the obstacle runs that I have completed. In this particular run, the challenges were all natural, whereas in the obstacle races, there tends to be a mixture of natural obstacles and man-made obstacles. There were 8 specific natural challenges as well as the challenge of running through woodland and mud. The map below gives a brief indication of the course.


The run

On arriving, I collected my race pack and visited the portable toilets before returning to my car to stay warm because, despite a long-sleeved top and t-shirt, as well as gloves, I was cold. Whilst getting myself ready and staying warm, I exchanged several words with the people in the car next to mine. They had opted to use gaffer tape to affix their trainers to their feet and ankles due to having a trainer come off in the mud the previous year. They even offered me the use of their tape, but I declined because I wasn’t sure how to go about strapping my shoes to my feet and prevent the tape from coming loose and then annoying me later on in the run. About 15 minutes before the race start, we walked the short distance to the starting area. Only a very few were brave enough to wear just a vest and shorts. Some were less brave, wearing a long-sleeved top and t-shirt, as was I. Most were even less brave with thermal tops and long bottoms. Finally, there were those dressed up, including superhero costumes and full 3-piece suits. Overall, a  good mix of colours and garb. As is often the case in such runs, the atmosphere in the starting area was jovial and friendly. Then we were off!

The run began as most do with a mass start and everyone attempting to get some space and find some clean air to use a motor-sport phrase. We began by running along an open field around the little lake and then looped around to enter the woods. As planned, I did not go tearing off too quickly and noted a couple of runners in front of whom I wanted to finish. The open start also allowed me to spot a couple of runners whom I might stay close to until the end. Even though we had just started, things seemed to be going well; however, we were yet to encounter any more challenging aspects of nature. The expected mud and water, and slippery conditions interspersed with hills and trees came once we entered the woods.

Out of all the eight challenges, my least favourite was the dips of despair. As can be seen from the map above, this involved scrambling up a steep ravine and then sliding back down the ravine a bit further along a total of three times. I struggled to get up the first ravine due to the slippery terrain, and this is where I lost a bit of time. I tried getting up on my hands and feet to no avail, so then tried crawling, but again was unable to get to the top of the first ravine. In the end, I took to grabbing hold of a tree and pulling myself up, then repeating this method. Sliding down, resulted in a few cuts to my forearm. The difference between the earlier ravine climb and the dips of was one of steepness and slipperiness. The other hills were also of shorter duration so I was able to power up these hills. The water features were of different depths. Some of them were ankle deep, some were knee-deep, and one was shoulder deep. The streams contained generally clear water but slippery rocks, whereas the deeper water sections generally contained muddy water. On one of the deeper water sections, I remember a marshal recommending that we keep to the middle because it was safer. Doing so, however, resulted in me staggering and struggling to keep my balance, which is part of the reason for there being mud on my face – I went under a little. Maybe it was just me, or maybe it was the marshal trying to have a bit of a laugh, who knows, but I think I took it in good humour.

Throughout the race, I traded places with two runners up until one point where they left the racing line to avoid the mud and water, and run on safer ground. As a result, they missed some of the cut-backs and pulled ahead of me. I became a bit annoyed by this move and began thinking how I might catch them up, at which point, with my concentration otherwise engaged, I slipped and had an encounter with a large tree – I basically cracked the right side of my head on a tree [see the photo below]. I was slightly dazed and further annoyed because up until this point, I had not fallen over, which is something that some other runners will note has been a frequent occurrence for me. I tapped the area with my glove to see if there was any blood, but only noticed mud. I quickly decided not to rest and lose further ground, thinking how bad can it really be, and carried on running to try and catch my target runners, albeit a bit more carefully for a little while until I was less dazed.

painbarrier 2013 - cut head 2

It is worth pointing out that the comfort and relief section involved running across an open field towards the finish, but it also included some short, sharp, muddy hills. As a result, it wasn’t really comfort and relief. I managed to catch the two runners during this section whilst they were walking. This gave me some confidence because I was still running. We exchanged a few words as I passed them, and then I was away. I made a good finish, picking up speed for the last part, but was disappointed to see the photographer taking a break as I and a few others crossed the line. So much for trying out one of my best pushing through the pain poses.


Post-run musings

I was definitely glad to finish, not least because there had been further rain during the run and my legs were tired. Having said that, I also felt great pleasure in having completed the run that, by it’s definition, is designed to push you and hurt. However, one aspect on which I need to work is getting up steep and muddy ravines in a more timely and less awkward fashion. I’m not sure how I will go about this as yet, but I know that doing so will help me next time and improve general performance all round. Another musing I had on completion of this run was not wearing my sealskin socks. As they are generally waterproof, they hold water. I obviously did not consider this when putting them on that morning, but when taking them off by my car, there was a fair amount of water inside each sock. I’m not sure what I was thinking because with that amount of water, the socks would be useless at being waterproof. Overall though, I had a blast, and one other thing I like about these types of runs is the banter you get to have with others who are embarking on the same challenge. No more of these now until next year!

 November 15, 2013  Posted by at 5:20 pm race reports Tagged with:  1 Response »