race reports

Stokesley Spring Duathlon 2014

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.


race reports

Christmas racing on the Haworth Moors

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)


race reports

Wardle Skyline Fell Race

wardleosThought I would nip over into Lancashire, after checking that my passport was still valid and up to date, for this race which I last did way back in 2006.

Wardle is a village just North of Rochdale, and is accessed by a main road which soon narrows to a village high street and then finally just a track.

Having attended the Skipton Beer Festival the previous evening  a 2 pm race start was just what was required. 213 of us headed up the cobbled track out of the village and towards the moors and the large Watergrove reservoir. A pleasant sunny afternoon,plenty of snow still lying around in the gullies though. I did remember from 2006 a long descent towards the end of the race, managed to overhaul a few runners on this. What I didn’t remember however was the sting in the tail, a half mile uphill section on a track just before the finish!

I was a good few minutes down on my 2006 time ,then again I am 7 years older so I wasn’t going to beat myself up about it too much.

A great selection of cakes and buns after the race ( I will admit to having had one BEFORE the race too!)  and a bagful of points for the Abbey fell grand prix ( I’m gonna need ’em for later in the year ! )  made the trip worthwhile.

Dave Beston

race reports

The Pain Barrier 10k

Pain Barrier - swamp
My socks are damp!

I know, the title doesn’t make this sound very appealing, but stick with me on this one. The pain barrier described itself as as 10k mud run where participants would face hills and ravines, extreme mud and woodland trails, and ponds and water obstacles. I entered this event shortly after completing a Spartan race in August 2012, without much thought, and had even less idea about exactly what this would be like or involve. However, the race information on the website did identify 4 specific ‘challenges’: the pool of punishment, the horrific hills, the swamp of suffering, and the dips of despair. Again, these may not inspire confidence or a willingness to participate, but still.

I arrived at the car park in plenty of time, a full hour before the scheduled start, and picked up my run pack. There was a cold air that morning, so I stayed in my car once I’d got ready to stay warm. The organisers had pointed out prior to this event to bear in mind that it will be “December in the north” and to dress accordingly. When it was getting close to the start time, I made my way to the starting area along with all the other participants. People were stretching and warming up, music was playing, and the organisers were getting everyone cheering. Then, after a short countdown, we were off running across a field, slightly downhill, before entering some woodland.

There were several points during the run where we encountered cold and muddy water. When I say cold, I do mean cold because there was ice on the ground, and once my feet were wet and cold, they remained this way to the end. The final water experience was deep enough to come up to my chest. Layers of clothing were of little benefit. There were some hills that you could run up or take at a slightly slower pace, but there were also several ravines that you had to scramble up, and at times we were sliding down whilst trying to go up. I was wearing gloves due to the cold and decided to take one of them off and put it in my pocket to help me get a grip on the ground. I later lost this glove in the swamp of suffering, which annoyed me; it also made me think that next time maybe I would not bother with gloves even if my hands were cold. Going down the hills was equally treacherous and most of us ended up sliding down these and crashing into each other.

The entire run took me 1 hour and 22 minutes. I did get stuck behind people at some points, which slowed me down; trying to pass people was not always possible due to the terrain, at least for me. After the run, we were given a goodie bag, which included a nice technical t-shirt, and we were also given a medal. I may not have convinced people to do these type of events, but I was glad I’d done it, and the camaraderie you get in these events is so much more than I’ve noticed in regular runs and races. This, for me, makes them enjoyable and wanting to do more. The organisation was also very good, which is always helpful in ensuring a good experience. Before anyone says no to ever doing any type of event like this themselves, I think they should give them more consideration, specifically regarding how they may help your general running and fitness, as well as help your mental game. Also, what’s the worst that could happen? If any of you feel you have missed out and want to do something like this, worry not, there are more planned! If anyone is interested, I have posted some pictures up on Twitter that show just how much fun I had during the run.