Elvet Striders Clamber: Let’s Run Up Some Hills on a Hot Day!

I’m part of a running club in Durham called the Elvet Striders, which is a huge club that meets every Monday and Wednesday. And sometimes in between. And often in the pub. This week, a few of our more enterprising members organised a trail race called the Clamber. It was a regular in the Striders calendar until a hiatus last year. This year it was back with a vengeance, and a new-improved-just-over-5-mile route.


This isn't even half of us!

This isn’t even half of us!

I signed up as I’ve not done any trail races this year, and I probably won’t be able to get to any more til next year. If you are wondering why trail running is the bees knees, here are the top three reasons:

  1. You are fully immersed in the countryside and get some uh-ma-zing views
  2. You don’t have to worry about being hit by a car. On the other hand, you do have to worry about tripping over a tree-root
  3. Muscles that have been asleep since the day you were born are suddenly put into action, much to their chagrin


Here is my favourite view from a trail run (or at least a trail run where I happened to have my camera):

Coniston Trail

Thank you, Lake District.

So, back to the Clamber. I arrived with about a minute to spare to pick up my number. I was kind of chilled about this race – in my mind it was just like a typical Wednesday run. Until I put my number on and saw everyone else: then my determination kicked in, and I realised that I was going to push with everything I had.


It was a challenge to pace: I didn’t know the route, and my race-day-zone only started 10 minutes before the race started. To be honest, I can’t give an accurate route description, but here’s my best effort: we went up some hills in the woods, down some hills in a field, steadily up some hills in the wilderness (what do you call it if it’s not a field?), steadily down some hills in a field, up some hills in the woods, down them again, and then there’s the finish. Can you picture it? 😉


Apparently we passed the Wicker man, but I didn't see him.

Apparently we passed the Wicker man, but I didn’t see him.


As we passed the marshals, they told me what position female I was in – if I didn’t have my game face on before, I certainly did then!  My strength was in running up the hills:  I could power up them, and that where I did most of my over-taking (although my over-taking was pretty modest). On the flats less brutal hills, I really felt the effort of keeping my pace, and needed to really suck it up mentally. As I felt more tired, my footing wasn’t as confident which in turn required more concentration. It was a tough race.


Sweaty smiles!

Don’t be fooled by the smile. There was pain going on. Look into my eyes.

For the last three miles I had another girl in my sights, and I made it my goal to overtake her to take my mind off my legs, which were shocked at working this intensely. She was always about 300 metres ahead: I’d see her just up ahead, and then we’d turn a corner and she’d taken off. I’d see her walking up a hill, but by the time I ran to the top, she’d taken off (I’m terrified of running downhill, so I reckon I lost some time there).


Once I knew there were no more hills, and there was about a mile left, I found the energy to really sprint. You know in cartoons when you see their legs pinwheel into a blur? That’s what my legs always feel like at the end – they’re so tired and light, but it feels like they’re at their most powerful. I feel like I’m flying.


But enough indulgent contemplation on the sprint. I finished in 42:24. And did I catch the girl in front? No. But I did finish 4th female overall, and 2nd female in our club, so I’m mighty pleased with that. :)


I want to say a huge thanks to Flip & his team for organising it – I really, really enjoyed running in a local race, and loved seeing the different local running groups. And it was a real treat to run a race where the marshals knew you and supported you with genuine enthusiasm. Elvet Striders – where everybody knows your name.


Ellie B



Hamsterley 10k Recap

On Sunday morning SB and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary by doing a 10k trail fun run together, because isn’t that what all couples do? Isn’t first year 10k, second year 15k… hahaha at least I make myself laugh.

It was the Hamsterley 10k, which is run by and for the Butterwick Hospice, which has a series of hospices throughout the North East of England.

We knew it was going to be a hot one, but thankfully it was fairly cloudy on Sunday morning. We drove the 40 mins to get there, and when we arrived there was a real festive mood in the air, with runners, their families, pets, kids on bikes all gathered in the national park.

The starting line was on a dirt track, and approximately 400 people crammed onto the path. The first kilometre was particularly slow as we all negotiated the narrow track, but we soon joined a wider path, and were met with a fab view of the valley.

photo (29)

The 1st and 4th kilometres had the steepest climbs, and it was good to get those challenges out of the way early! The track took us through dense forest, like something from Hansel and Gretel, and wider ranges. I love seeing the countryside like this!

Kilometre 5 was a bit of a low point when we were running through swarms of midges. I had already eaten about 10 by then, so I’m no wimp, but this was something else. I had to keep my head down and look at the floor to stop myself from inhaling all that unwelcome protein! At this point I was really feeling the humidity, and all the midges were getting stuck in my sweat. Not my finest point.

Thankfully, kilometre 6 had refreshments (and a chance to wash the insects off!), and the rest of the run was a pleasant descent on paths winding through the trees where I could build some pace to make up for the slower start. The woods were so pretty that I expected to see fairies playing in the woods. But that’s stupid – as if they’d show themselves to fun-runners.

The end was along a similar narrow, winding path which I liked – I hate seeing the finish line long before you’re even close! I finished in 54:56.

A short walk took us to a clearing where there was music, refreshments and medals (the most important bit). There was loads of water and lucozade, which was great for all us runners in the UK who are unaccustomed to running in heat! Gilly would have lapped us I bet. :)

All in all I thought it was a great run for a great cause. It wasn’t the most comfortable run because of the insects, but I really enjoyed running through the forest. And at £15 (£13 for affiliated runners), it was an absolute bargain.

Feeling pretty pleased with my new medal and huge shoulders.

Feeling pretty pleased with my new medal and huge shoulders.

After the run, SB and I went home and watched the Wimbledon final. I think that Murray really benefitted from my support – I don’t want to say that his win is completely down to me, but…..

And then we went out to Tapas to celebrate our anniversary like normal folks :)


Ellie B