This year's Brass Monkey Half Marathon in York on January 17th took place in excellent running conditions and delivered personal bests for two of the club's runners. Robbie Kelly broke the 1 h30min barrier for the first time finishing in 1.27.54 and John Lynch was delighted with his time of 1.43.45. Martin Randall also squeezed under 1.30 although his name is missing from the official results.
Three members ran in the Darlington Parkrun last Saturday. Stuart Hardcastle's remarkably consistent times continued with 22.09, with Jess Young not far behind in 22.44. Liz Sowter ran her second Parkrun a little faster than her first, finishing in 26.48. Michael Rosher was the only Swaledale runner at Not a Parkrun in Reeth and completed the 7km offroad course in 38.24.
There was a good turnout at the rescheduled Jolly Holly Jog in Ripon on Sunday 24th with nine Swaledale runners amongst the 525 participants. Derek Parrington is based in Calderdale these days but continues to represent Swaledale and made the trip back for the race. He finished as first V50 and 19th overall in 41.43. Martin Randall was next club runner home in 45.59, followed by Alan Mackay in 51.35. Carol Murray was the first club woman to cross the line in 54.27 although Suzie McGann had a faster chip time of 54.16 despite finishing three places behind. Other club times - Zoe Mackay 59.10, Richie Smith 61.33, Julia Spittle 61.21 and Marian Hunter 67.01.
The first Swaledale Runners Fell Championship got off to a fine start with the Swaledale Marathon. Although more a trail race than a genuine fell race it’s always popular with club members and so was an obvious choice as the first long counter. Stuart Smith was first home for the club and top points scorer, although the race also saw an unfortunate injury to Neil Bowmer, putting him out of the series. Next up was a medium – the Ingleborough Mountain Race. Four club members made the trip, with Jackie Keavney first back (just ahead of Jim Coldwell) and top points scorer (a situation that was to become familiar!). Mike and Jackie Keavney and Jim Coldwell made the long journey to the South Lakes in August to take part in the Turner Landscape fell race, a testing medium around the back of the Coniston fells made even harder due to the heat. Jackie finished well ahead of Mike and Jim. The end of August brought Reeth Show, the first short counter and another popular club race with eleven Swaledalers present. Robbie Kelly was first home for the club, but finished behind Jackie Keavney and Caitlin Pearson on points due to the 15% ladies allowance. September’s Viking Chase saw the championship move to the North Yorkshire Moors and a top finish for Martin Randall in his second race of the series. Mike Keavney missed this race due to an injury that was to end his championship hopes. Later in the month Jackie Keavney, Robbie Kelly and Jim Coldwell were in the heart of the Lake District for the next long counter, the formidable Langdale Horseshoe. The team-mates were well spread out with Robbie fist back (and Jackie again picking up the most points). Jim was more than happy to get a Lakeland Classic under his belt! November brought the final short counter – Great Whernside at Kettlewell. Jim Coldwell was yet another injury victim, failing to finish after twisting his ankle on the descent. The race also saw Michael Rosher completing the required number of races (and of course Jackie picking up the most points!). Jackie Keavney was also the only club member to manage the trip to Lancashire for Tour of Pendle. Four runners completed the series (Ros Blackmore falling short of one race and injuries spoiling the plans of others). Jackie Keavney finished as Fell Champion, ahead of Robbie Kelly, Jim Coldwell and Michael Rosher. This championship is certainly accessible to many club members – if you are capable of completing the Swaledale Marathon and Reeth Show then you should be more than capable of completing the required four races. This year’s Championship will consist of nine new races spread throughout the year and around the North of England. Details to follow soon!
The rearranged presentation night is now on Thursday 28th January at the club house in Richmond. People can still go for a run beforehand. Jess will be running her normal structured training session but will start slightly earlier at 6.30pm so we can get everyone back to the club house for about 7.30pm. We will be having light refreshments, then the presentation of awards will start by no later than 8pm. There will be a raffle, so if people can bring a raffle prize that would be great.
What is the most appropriate thing to do on the shortest Saturday of the year, in torrential rain and a howling gale? Is it to sit beside a roaring log fire planning next year’s races with a nice cup of tea? Or is it running 38 miles round the recently flooded and devastated Lake District with 180 other fools? Well, Mike Rosher and I chose the latter, running the Tour de Helvellyn on the 19th December. This race was definitely in doubt following Storm Desmond, but thanks to the dedication of the team at Nav4 who carefully assessed the viability of the route and to the people of Cumbria who were keen to encourage ‘business as normal’, the race went ahead.
The Tour de Helvellyn is advertised as a race for experienced ultra-runners with mountain skills, and this year it was definitely essential, with choice of kit and navigation skills essential. I just about scraped into this category, more from my mountaineering background than running pedigree. However, I still felt a bit of a novice amongst some seriously hard-core and fast ultra-runners, such as Spine and Dragons Back finishers.
I travelled over to Askham, near Shap, on the Friday evening, choosing to sleep in the van rather than have a probably sleepless night in the Community Hall with other competitors. The next morning I prepared to leave at 7.15 and discovered that Mike was planning the same time. Rather than a mass start, competitors choose their own start time based on their anticipated speed, with the aim of getting to the first manned checkpoint at Patterdale at 9.30 when it opens. This meant that slower runners started earlier in the dark and finished in the dark, with faster runners attempting to get round the route in the daylight.
But before ‘dibbing’ to start my clock, there was the small matter of the stringent gear check. The art of balancing safety and weight was challenging for this race. With few checkpoints and difficult access, runners have to be responsible for their own safety, which basically means carrying and wearing clothing/equipment that will save your life in the event of an injury or getting lost. There was no question about what to wear to start though, it was full waterproofs as the rain was pouring down with high winds. Mike got held up in the gear check so I started a few minutes before him and therefore didn’t seem him again for about 9 miles.
Apologies to anyone who has had difficulty accessing the forum. It is working, it just looks a bit different to before. When you first go in you will just see your profile (useful if you want to change your password). To see the posts you then need to go to the tab with its pull-down menu and click on members' forum.
Why not come along and give our club a try, free of charge? We shall be holding an Open Evening on January 14th which will be suitable for all abilities. Have a look at this poster for more information. Club members, please encourage your friends, family and work colleagues to come along.
The 39 mile long Tour de Helvellyn takes place on the Saturday closest to the shortest day and therefore most runners start and finish in darkness. The course starts in Askham near Penrith and loops around Helvellyn on mountain trails and bridleways. Michael Rosher and Ros Blackmore ran together in torrential rain for much of this year's event before Michael tired in the closing stages. Ros finished 118th out of 160 starters in 11.08.25 with Michael 119th in 11.14.04, just a few minutes slower than his previous time.
At the Darlington Parkrun on the same day (December 19th) Adele Marshall finished as the third woman in 21.39 with Richie Smith in 36.23. Nicky Logan was the only Swaledale runner in the Northallerton Parkrun and finished in 33.16. Reeth's 7k off-road Not a Parkrun was less competitive than usual and Michael Keavney was a surprise winner in 36.27, just ahead of Mike Warren in 37.15.
Also on Saturday three club members took part in the Wild Boar Fell race (5 miles, 1500 feet climbing) organised by ex British fellrunning champion Gary Devine and his wife Debbie. Robbie Kelly,Jacqueline Keavney and Jim Coldwell reached the summit with little between them. Robbie's superior descending saw him finish well ahead of the other two, with Jacqueline finishing just ahead of Jim. Official results are not yet available but Jacqueline finished as first FV50 and also picked up the spot prize of a week's holiday at the organisers B&B in the Pyrenees. Her profitable weekend continued on Sunday at the Loftus Poultry run where she won a turkey as second FV45 in 56.00. Robbie Kelly was second Swaledale runner in 57.20 with Mike Warren in 61.33 and John Lynch in 65.50.