Race Reports

Kirkley Hall Big 10 Miler - Sunday 26th November 2017 - Author: Louise Newton

I tend not to write ‘race reviews’, usually I turn up, run the race, check out the photos and the times then move on to something else. However, I felt the need to share my views on this one.

I’d heard mixed reviews about the organisation of these races but decided I’d give it a go, what could possibly go wrong?

My first issue was the pricing, it was 100% advertised as £18 for UK Athletics numbers but on completing the payment the amount processed was £20. I genuinely wasn’t fussed about £2 but then I started to feel a little uneasy, the website didn’t recognise my email address and I’d had no confirmation of race entry or payment so I sent them a quick message. I was pleasantly surprised to receive a swift response, albeit at about 10pm on a Saturday night to say yes the price was incorrect but it would all be looked into. Good news!

Race details eventually arrived by email and we turned up on the day. In fairness, parking was fine although there weren’t many signposts but it was quick and painless collecting numbers on the day. The course briefing started to raise some doubts though, “I’ve been out gritting the roads but you need to be careful”, “slippy in places”, “careful for the first four miles” the overall view was that cancelling would’ve been a tough call so really, take your chances. I suppose the option to not run and in fact I can’t argue with the organisers helpful comment when I pointed out the unexpected cost ‘yes I could’ve chosen not to enter at all!’  was there for all of us but we’d got up early and were ready for a chilly run so we continued.

 The course was run on roads open to traffic and had I been able to keep up with the pack then maybe I’d have felt the safety in numbers but for the slower runners amongst us we were left running on roads with signs advising us to keep left. Icy roads, with traffic coming along behind us…at times felt we really were ‘taking our chances’, some cyclists didn’t leave much room. Yes the roads were quiet, yes it was very pretty and yes the marshals were fantastic and very cheerful considering they’d stood out in the middle of nowhere for hours on end. 

But… my problem with this run is entirely down to the customer service. Despite having queried the cost a week in advance, I was later told quite bluntly that I was wrong, the price had never been advertised as £18 at all. Despite a number of runners slipping all over, the roads had been gritted and there weren’t many cars anyway. To add to the insult to my obviously flawed opinions, my fairly balanced, in my opinion, review expressing disappointment was removed from the event Facebook page while a number of glowing reviews remain for all to see.

I’d always say, speak as you find, but honestly I doubt you’ll find any negative reviews linked to these events as mine certainly vanished into thin air! I’d have been happy with an apology over a mistake in the advertised price, people get things wrong all of the time and I’m sure it’s not easy managing races and keeping us runners all happy. There won’t be a next time for me at Run Nation events but if you choose to take part then stay safe!

For those that are interested this was my comment that wasn’t allowed:
Feeling disappointed with this morning’s run. Although winter conditions were to be expected the roads were really too slippy given that it was still open to traffic. If any vehicles had skidded on a patch of ice there could've been a serious accident and lots of runners were slipping pretty much through the full course.

Also having previously contacted you with regard to the pricing I was surprised to hear that everyone from our club had been charged £2 more than the advertised price. 

Another minor niggle, although I understand that technology doesn't always work as planned. I would've expected the results to have been published in full on the same day. Overall, it could've been a great day and the marshals were all amazing giving up their time to stand outside in the cold but instead I feel a bit let down with safety not 100% and profit a priority.

Loch Ness Marathon - 24th September 2017 - Author: Richard Heslop

An epic, fully illustrated account!

Eemnesserpolder run 10.7k - 9th April 2017 - Author: Sandra Duim

Only back 1 day on Dutch soil I decided to do a run without hills. I had been looking forward to run on the flat for a long time, to be precisely, from June 2016 when I joined Striders. So no hills, but Sunday the 9th
of April decided to be the hottest day in my running career, with 22 degrees C. Luckily I was not on my own. My husband Rinke and eldest son Jelle, both getting back from being injured, were going to do the 5k and I was joined on my 10k by Ruud, my friend’s husband.

The race would start at 1pm, so well in time we arrived in the car park where to our surprise another British car parked alongside us. This turned out to be a fell running family from Cumbria!

There were 3 distances to run, 5, 10 and 15k, all starting at the same time and doing respectively 1, 2 and 3 squares through flat, green polder landscape. Yes, I have to admit it was a bit dull compared to
Northumberland scenery.

After the usual fiddling from my side to get Strava in working order (Jelle taught me to use auto-pause which is brilliant in my opinion), we were lining up for the start. I have to admit I was quite nervous, the wind was picking up a bit (with hind side quite nice because of the temperature), you could see for miles around you (nowhere to hide) and no hills to go down for picking up speed!

Already in our warming up round we noticed the unusual way of being send off at the start. So when the time got to 12.59 we put our fingers in our ears for not getting deaf by the booming sound of the carbid canon. Having struggled through heaps of slower runners, after 1k I could start running in my own pace. Of course my son was well ahead, but Ruud and I were keeping level. Rinke was just a little bit behind us. It was great to hear the young lambs bleating just on the other side of the ditches next to our road. And then there were all the ‘weidevogels’, like lapwings, oystercatchers, godwits and redshanks who seemed to sing to spur us on.

At the 3k point there was a refreshing sip of water good for the run up to the only little hill at 4k, which was about 10 metres long and 50cm up. This was at the point where you ran up the dike which protected the
old land from the water. So ¾ of the race was in the polder which is below sea level. Here I noticed the benefits of strenuous hill training with Striders because I took over several runners! Soon I reached the place where the start had taken place and cheered on by Jelle, who already had long finished his 5k,
I geared up for another 5k square! 

At this point we decided that Ruud, who is a faster runner than I am, would run his own race. So I was on my own now. With all the 5k people behind me finished there were only runners for the 10 and 15 k left, really a lot less. I was really feeling the heat with sweat trickling down my face, that was a first in my running career. Having rounded another corner, after the 8k water point, the wind was picking up, which was neither
bad nor good, if you know what I mean! So it was a bit of a struggle coming towards the dike again. Therefor it was a big boost I managed to overtake 2 male runners.

Running on top of the dike, with the finish already in sight (no corners or hills to obscure it) my Strava lady told me I had just run 10k in 54.59! Wow, that was a pb! Last 10k, also on the flat in the Netherlands in January
was in 57.40ish. But then it was -3 degrees C! It also meant that this run was longer than 10k. Very pleased to reach the finish line after 10.7k (6.6 miles) in about 58.46 seconds according to my Strava lady (I always struggle finding the stop button!), cheered on by Rinke, Jelle, Hilbert (my other son), Ruud and Monique.  

However a bit dull, running on the flat with the same grassland view, I still enjoyed it. It’s great running with friends and family, and have a refreshing drink afterwards in the sunshine. Maybe best of all was 
Jelle, winning 2nd prize at 1 second from the winner!

North Tynedsie 10k - 16th April 2017 - Author: Julian Bates
I don’t think I’ve ever been so badly prepared for a race. I’d done next to no training, I hadn’t run the distance since October, I had worn myself out the previous day helping my younger daughter move house, and on the Saturday evening I was all for giving it a miss. By the Sunday morning Iwas feeling a bit more positive but then struggled to put my timing thingy through my laces correctly and failed miserably to attach my number to my vest using the Striders pinless number fasteners. I must have been in a world of my own while driving along the Coast Road and so I missed the turn-off for the
A19, which resulted in a trip through some of the less salubrious parts of North Shields. When I finally arrived at the Parks Leisure Centre the parking people were, to put it politely, making a bit of a dog’s breakfast of getting everyone parked. But I was in plenty of time and, as you all know, I’m not one to moan (!), so I braved the lengthy toilet queues and then the freezing cold and went for a warm-up jog round Chirton Dene Park.

There didn’t appear to be any other Striders present, or indeed anyone I knew at all, but then I bumped into my optician (I must remember to make an appointment). She too claimed to be totally unprepared for the race, which was reassuring to hear. Eventually 10 o’clock came round and, having placed myself near the back of the waiting runners, I strolled to the starting line and set off. After about 50 yards, there was a loud crash from behind me as a woman collided with a traffic bollard (I think like most people she couldn’t decide which way to go round the first roundabout). She wasn’t hurt and we pressed on. By the time we reached the part of the course that runs along the Tyne towards the Fish Quay I actually started to enjoy the race, although that may have been because of the following wind and the scenery. I just about made it up the hill to Tynemouth Priory without stopping and managed to ignore the smell of fish and chips wafting along from Marshalls (do people actually eat fish and chips at 10.15 on a Sunday morning?)

From Cullercoats to Whitley Bay the wind was more noticeable and I was pleased that I had remembered my gloves. This part of the route follows the Promenade and there were a good number of people watching and cheering runners on. One even shouted “Come on Stocksfield”, which was encouraging. There was another faller beside me just before Spanish City but once again the runner was uninjured and carried on. Suddenly St Mary’s Lighthouse was only 200 yards away and I attempted a bit of a sprint finish. I crossed the line with a time of 37 seconds over the hour – a much better result
than I had I expected.

After collecting some water and my goody bag (a nice T-shirt and some running socks) I eventually found my bag and came across Angela Marshall and Karen Stewart amongst the 2,000 runners milling around. Then, after a rather chilly wait, we were taken by minibus back to the start.

Seven weeks to the Blaydon race, so on my to-do list are: buy safety pins, practise tying laces, go to Striders more often and get some training in!

Send your reports to David Reed