Not One, Not Two but Three New Races …

Saturday 14 July saw a brand new event on the Edinburgh calendar - the Breaking Strain 24.  Breaking Strain offers the runner a variety of race time periods (24 hours, 12 hours, 6 hours) and options (individual, pair, team) but, in essence, the three time periods follow the same format : to see how many laps of the looped route around Holyrood Park you can physically run in your chosen time period.  The 6 hour race started when the sun was at its zenith so it was a very brave – and hot - Stuart Black who lined up to tackle this challenge and didn’t he do well ?!  In six hours with temperatures in the mid 20s, Stuart ran 56.1.k to finish first in the Individual event, 3k ahead of his nearest competitor, and 3rd overall behind two teams. 

It was another new race for Tweed Striders on Sunday - the Dundee Half Dram Half Marathon (albeit with not a drop of whisky in sight !) - with, this time, Emma Jones-Watson on the start line.  Not only was there relentless heat to contend with, it was also a very hilly course but, nevertheless, Emma took it all in her stride, putting in another superb performance to finish in 1.41.59, 3rd in age group and 7th female overall.

Much nearer home and facing equally hot and demanding conditions, Stephen Ball and Heather Barnes ran in the multi-terrain Kelso 10k;  Stephen finished in 44.56 and Heather in 60.13.

Moving south Laura Jeffrey was in action in the Dalby “Conquer the Forest” Trail 10k – yet another new race for Tweed Striders. Along with the off-road course, Laura also had to contend with the heat but one has to hope that, as it was a trail race, she did benefit from some shade.  Like Emma, Laura took all in her stride and put in a great run to finish 1st in age group and 31st (out of 146) in 61.57.

The final event this past weekend for Tweed Striders was Race for Life in a very hot and sunny Newcastle.  Lynsey Jardine and Jodi Mace ran in the 10k, whilst Maureen Aitchison, Kirstie Mulvey and Laura Percy-Doolan (straight from the Pretty Mudder 5k the day before !) ran in the 5k.

Hot and Hotter

During winter, as we struggle through wind, rain and snow dressed to ward off the cold, we dream of running in shorts and t-shirts in the summer sunshine but running in a heatwave can be just as challenging as those racing this past weekend will no doubt testify.  On Saturday 7 July it was the Thompson family of Colin, Judith and Katie who pulled on their racing shoes to take part in the Decathlon 5k which had moved from its 2017 venue of Holyrood Park to the Meadows – this was probably a fortunate move as parts of the Meadows offered some shade, so respite, from the intense heat.  The trio ran en famille to support Katie in this her first 5k, which also formed one of her Duke of Edinburgh Award targets, and they crossed the line in a very commendable 38.04.  The following day the quartet of Susan Howlett, Helen Huntly, Julie Riley and Nikki Robertson lined up on the start line of the Great North 10k and faced the intense heat that a city always generates.  Susan was first home (57.28), followed by Nikki (62.21), Helen (68.18) and Julie (82.18). 

Wow – Two Busy and Very Successful Evenings !

Record temperatures and a record turnout of 307 on Wednesday 4 July meant two out of three records were broken at the annual Curfew Fun Run and Curfew Run.  The only record that didn’t fall – and this was not through lack of effort - was that of the Curfew Run itself.  7.30 pm signalled the start of the Curfew Fun Run and, with a maximum turnout of 175, this was full to capacity.  First boy and first girl to cross the line were Conal Ham and Amber Eden.  Amongst the other 173 were Tweed Strider juniors Alisha and Sophie Black with mum Louise, Cerys and Finley Bowden with mum Deborah, Lily and Sean Capes with mum Sarah, Maisi Coulter with mum Jenni, Charlie Etherington with mum Claire, Chloe Ferguson, Abigail Huntly, Lola Jardine, Rory McCreath, Jayden and Rebecca Mavin with dad Andrew, Jenson Mitchell with dad Craig, Marti Riley with mum and dad Julie and Stuart, Faye Robertson with mum Laura, Frankie Scott with mum Wend, Laila Turnbull with mum Sarah and Euan Watson.

8 pm then heralded the start of the Curfew Run with all 132 (a record turnout and close to the maximum of 150) runners aiming to beat the bells.  The field were led home by holiday-maker Simeon Bates who took the tape – and the trophy for First Senior Man - in 6.24, some 19 seconds adrift of the course records.  It is not outwith the grounds of possibility that should Simeon return to the area next year then the record could fall as he would race with the advantage of knowing the course.  The winner of the trophy for First Seniors Lady was Annabel Lillico who finished in 8.56.  First Junior Man and First Junior Lady were James Gilhome and Tweed Striders’ Jessica Wallace (7.07 and 11.07 respectively).  Tweed Striders who finished In the top 20 were Stuart Black (8th in 7.34), Rick Davie (15th in 8.01 – a pity about that pesky second !) and Dave Watson (18th in 8.24). They were followed over the line by Stephen Ball (8.32), Colin Blackburn (8.33), Neil Stalker (8.43), Doug Small (8.44), juniors Bobby Scott (8.45) and Stuart Whitehead (9.11), first Tweed Strider lady and 3rd lady overall Laura Jeffery (9.28), Mark Short (9.29), Stephen Whitehead (9.25), Colin Thompson (10.03), Will McDermott (10.11), Heather Barnes (10.19), Laura Walton (10.28), Paul Summers (10.38), Nicola Stebbing (11.19), Heather Dickson (11.38), Helen Huntly (11.41), Laura Robertson (11.44 – her second run of the night !), Lynsey Jardine (11.52), Jo Payne (11.57),  Gail Jones (11.59), Nikki Robertson (12.05), Claire Johnston (12.09), Cheryl Scott (12.11), Jennifer Greenwood (13.00), junior Katie Thompson (13.06), Lydia Simpson (13.07), Julie Newton (13.15), Caroline Mullins (13.24), Gemma Patterson (13.36), Megan Meldrum (13.53), Di Renner (14.09), Joan Nisbet (14.27), Ailsa Wedderburn (14.52), Susan Meldrum (15.06), Laura Percy-Doolan (15.11), Anna and Stuart Richardson (both 15.24), Susan Whyte (13.52), Tracey Dick (15.35) and Joanna Ryan (15.48).  Many congratulations to all !  Tweed Striders would like to express their grateful thanks and appreciation, firstly, to Simpsons Malt for their continued sponsorship of the Curfew Fun Run and the Curfew Run and, secondly, to Borders and Berwick Touch Therapies, Fantasy Prints, Morrisons, Silvery Tweed Cereals, Tesco, Travis Perkins and Tweedmouth Service Station Mitsubishi for their support.

And there's more ... to mis-quote a film title of many moons ago : It’s Thursday so it must be … another one two for Tweed Striders.  And it was.  Ross Bagley and Emma Jones-Watson were First Man and First Lady in the Reivers Weeks 5k hosted by our friends RunDuns on Thursday 5 July.  Many congratulations to them both and to all Tweed Striders who took part – super running from everyone – and thank you to Julia for organising yet another great 5k in Duns.  


In a Word – Awesome !

June ended in a blaze of glory for Tweed Striders at the Norham Castle Challenge (beautifully organised by Les and his team on Thursday 28th).  Ross Bagley was the overall race winner (21.10) with Stuart Black 2nd in 22.27 and, along with Stephen Ball who finished in 24.47, the trio won the Trophy for !st Attached Male Team (1.08.24).  Emma Jones-Watson won the prize for 1st Lady (25.33) and, together with Laura Jeffrey (27.07) and Heather Barnes (30.19), this trio returned home with the Trophy for 1st Attached Female Team (1.22.59). All Striders ran extremely well on what was an exceptionally hot evening (25° at the 7 pm race start);  the others racing were Neil Stalker (26.28), Stephen Flook (26.38), Will McDermott (30.23), Colin Thompson (31.03), Paul Summers (33.15), Susan Howlett (33.18), Karen Roughead (33.30), Keighley Walton (33.56), Nicola Stebbing (34.37), Karen Bagley (35.19), Nikki  Robertson (36.48), Laura  Robertson (37.03), Liz Howlett (37.49), Louise Black (38.43), Gill Brownlie (39.21), Judith Thompson (40.37) and Jodi Mace (46.51). 

Heat and Hills

It was all heat and hills for Emma Jones-Watson, Jenni McCraw and Kirstie Mulvey in the Kirkley Hall 10k last night but neither deterred.  Emma was first of the trio to finish (46.12, 3rd in age group and 5th lady), followed by Jenni (58.07, 5th in age group) and Kirstie (63.13 PB, 6th in age group). 

In the Footsteps of the Romans …

Those Tweed Striders in action this weekend all travelled back in time – to the days of the Romans in fact.  On Sunday, with temperatures soaring. Poppy Frater donned her running shoes to take part in the Hadrian’s Wall Half Marathon.  This race is a mix of grass paths and forest tracks, with a mere 4.4 miles on road, and offers runners a unique opportunity to run close to a section of Hadrian’s Wall – a World Heritage site.  Poppy took the tape in 2.27.09.

Saturday going into Sunday, Gill Brownlie, Julia Keddie and Colin Thompson cycled through the night from Carlisle to Cramond (Edinburgh) as they took part in the 100 mile Ride to Sun.  This overnight challenge follows the footsteps of the Roman legions who marched from Luguvalium (Carlisle) to the garrison camp at Caer Amon (Cramond) … but the Roman soldiers did not have the luxury of the fish’n’chip pitstop in Moffat nor were they greeted with bacon rolls as they arrived in Cramond.  One suspects they probably wouldn’t have been overly fussed about either, nor about watching the sun rise over Cramond Beach !  Colin and Julia completed the 100 miles in 7 hours 10 mins and Gill in 7 hours 35 mins. 

Finally, congratulations to all who took part in Race for Life over the weekend.

The next event on the Tweed Striders’ calendar is Norham Running Club’s Castle Bank Challenge on Thursday.

Two Pubs

The Lauderdale Limpers’ Two Pubs is usually blessed with welcome June sunshine but not last night – it rained from start to finish.  However, whilst this was probably welcome news for the farmers, it was not quite what the 60+ runners wanted, nevertheless it did not put a damper on the evening in the slightest.  Tweed Striders were represented by 10 members : 8 runners and 2 officials (Doug Small as first responder and Caroline who, as a practice run for the XC series, scanned number barcodes of runners as they finished).  Of the eight runners, it was Stephen Ball and Michelle Douglas who led the way home (33.33 and 35.26 respectively).  They were followed over the line by Paul Brothwood (37.44), Will McDermott (40.50), Gill Brownlie (51.54), Judith Thompson (52.40), Sarah Capes (52.40) and Colin Thompson (52.41).  Many thanks to Graeme Sutherland and his team of Limpers for another great Two Pubs Race – we’ll be back !

Summer in Stichill

After the pollen-laden days of late, pleasantly cool and refreshing – ideal in fact - running conditions greeted the thirteen Tweed Striders who travelled to Stichill, just outside Kelso, on Saturday 16 June for the Stichill 10k.  This is a popular and very friendly 10k so one is perhaps lulled into a false sense of security as the course, with its numerous undulations, is rather challenging.  In the event, however, all Striders coped admirably.  Ross Bagley was front runner for the club, taking 4th place (out of 86) in 39.01. Next to finish were Doug Small (43.32) and Michelle Douglas (45.51 PB and 4th lady).  They were followed home by Steve Lauder (49.12), Hannah Bagley (52.39), Heather Barnes (53.59 PB), Ceri Leather (58.29), Nicola Stebbing (59.18 PB), Liz Howlett (63.25 PB), Lorna Patton (63.25), Gill Brownlie (66.03 PB), Judith Thompson and Colin Thompson (both 67.01).  Also in action on Saturday were Brian and Deborah Bowden, Rodney Morrison and Julie Riley who faced challenges in the form of obstacles imaginable and unimaginable, gut-busting hills, dark wooded trails plus the ubiquitous mud all of which make up the 10+ miles that is Tough Mudder at Drumlanrig Castle.  Sunday saw David Arnold and Stephen Ball on the west of Scotland for the Men’s 10k Glasgow.  The course definitely suited as both returned home with PBs.  David took the tape in 35.49 so placed 1st in age category and 10th overall, followed by Stephen in 42.05.  Much nearer to home Strider Paul Brothwood flew the flag for Tweed Tri as he swam (750m), cycled (19.14k) and ran (4.66k) his way round the Live Borders Eyemouth Sprint Triathlon.

Hot and Humid in Haddington …

Haddington in East Lothian was the destination on Saturday 2 June for Christian Young and, fresh from his marathon début in Edinburgh on Sunday, Stephen Ball.   Christian elected to run in Haddington Running Club’s 5k and Stephen the 10k and both coped exceedingly well with the very hot and very humid conditions.  Christian took the tape in the 5k in 20.31, whilst Stephen completed the 10k in 43.46 (PB). 

Temperatures dipped somewhat on the Sunday so brought welcome relief from the heat and humidity to the veritable platoon of Tweed Striders who took part in the Bamburgh 10k, enabling many to return home with a PB.  First home for Tweed Striders was Ross Bagley who stormed round the course to take 9th spot in 37.39 (PB).  Also bringing the club home in very fine style was Laura Jeffrey who took the tape in 48.49 (PB).  Following Laura over the line were Andrew Mavin (50.15 PB), Dave Watson (50.20 PB), Emma Jones-Watson (50.20), Mark Short (52.29 PB), Heather Barnes (54.25 PB), Karen Roughead (54.40), Jenni McCraw (55.11), Keighley Walton (57.20 PB), Ceri Leather (57.32), Sarah Capes (57.54 PB), Helen Hudson (60.42 PB), Lorna Patton (61.45 PB), Nikki Robertson (61.45 PB), Laura Robertson (62.04 PB), Maureen Aitchison (63.17), Kirstie Mulvey (63.37 PB), Lesley Wright (66.27 PB), Julie Newton (67.49 PB) and Joan Nisbet (71.50 PB).  Younger runners were also catered for and Faye Robertson took part in the 2k race which involved a lap of the cricket pitch, followed by a loop through the village and two further laps of the cricket pitch. 

Much closer to home Doug Small ran in the Wobbly Bridge Trail Race which took place in the beautiful Roxburghshire countryside around the village of St Boswells.  Doug completed the slippy, twisty, tree root lined 8.5 miles in 1.11.07, observing as he finished that “the Tweed Striders vest has a magic quality!”

Also in action on Sunday were Gill Brownlie, Julia Keddie and Colin Thompson but on two wheels as they took to their bikes for the Tour de Forth, a 60k cycle ride which embraces both sides of the River Forth.  Colin and Julia were first to finish in 4.02, with Gill not far behind in 4.31.  Strider Richard Toward was also out on his bike flying the flag for Tweed Tri in the Druridge Bay Standard Triathlon (1,500m swim, 37.5k cycle, 11.5k run).  This was Richard’s first standard distance triathlon and he was deservedly delighted with his finish time of 3.12 (PB).

It’s EMF Weekend !

The last weekend of May is Edinburgh Marathon Festival Weekend.  It kicked off on Saturday 26th with the 5k and 10k events.  Tweed Striders was represented in the 10k by David Arnold.  David put in an exceedingly swift run to take the tape in 38.05 so finished third in age category and 16th out of a whopping 3,109 runners.  The following day 20 Tweed Striders travelled up to Edinburgh, 17 to run in the Half Marathon and three in the Marathon itself.  Due to their 8 am start, those running the 13.1 miles benefitted from slightly cooler conditions.  This was a first half marathon for Heather Dickson so she was one of the 11 Striders who returned home with a PB !  First home for the club was Raymond Karolewski (1.38.51 PB).  Ray was chased right to the line by Neil Stalker who finished less than a minute behind (1.39.49 PB).  Emma and Dave Watson were next to cross the line finishing, respectively, in 1.44.36 and 1.44.37 PB (by 14 mins), with Wayne Etherington mere seconds behind - 1.44.53 PB (by 16 mins).  Following this trio home were Nick McCreath (1.55.30) and Jenni McCraw who was very unlucky with the 33 seconds (2.00.33).  Claire Etherington was next to finish in 2.06.29, followed by Heather and Kevin Dickson (2.11.30 PB and 2.11.31 respectively).  Just minutes behind came the trio of Lorna Patton, Maureen Aitchison and Nikki Robertson, all of whom saw their PBs tumble.  Lorna finished in 2.15.35 PB (by 40 mins), Maureen in 2.15.41 PB (by 8 mins), Nikki in 2.16.03 PB (by 28 mins).  Gill Brownlie crossed the line next (2.26.29 PB) followed by Lynsey Jardine who took the tape in 2.28.45 PB (by 24 mins).  Julie Riley was next to finish (2.55.55) followed by Jodi Mace in 3.33.20 PB (by 15 mins).  

Next up the Marathon … the trio running the full 26.2 miles – Stephen Ball, Paul Brothwood and Michelle Douglas  – lined up on the start line in the knowledge that temperatures were already on their way up at the comparatively early hour of 10 am.  Whilst all had prepared for this, for Paul and Stephen, this was not the ideal introduction to the marathon distance;  nevertheless all three put in outstanding runs.  Stephen was the first of the trio to finish in 3.35.38 (PB) – an excellent time for his first marathon.  Michelle was next to cross the line in 3.36.19 (PB) and saw her PB tumble by 32 minutes.  Paul then brought the trio home in a superb 4.14.22 PB.  Huge congratulations to everyone who ran in the EMF – your club is so very proud of you !

My Name’5 Doddie …

With temperatures in the mid 20s late morning on Saturday, sun cream was an essential part of the running kit for the eight Tweed Striders – Liz Howlett, Helen Hudson, Steve Lauder, Caroline McDermott, Will McDermott, Laura Robertson, Nikki Robertson and Judith Thompson - who ventured inland to Morebatlle, just outside of Kelso, for the Temple Trekkers’ Royal Kilomathon.  The race, in aid of the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, started and finished at the Templehall Hotel (Templehall started life in 1812 as part of the Temple Dairy but is now a welcome and welcoming port of call for locals and visitors alike).  The 13.1k route was truly stunning but, with some sneaky climbs, very challenging in parts.  Whilst all eight struggled to a greater or lesser degree with the heat, everyone nevertheless enjoyed this low-key and very chilled affair.  A full 90 minutes earlier, so escaping the fierce heat of late morning, Tracey Dick took part in the Liverpool Rock’n’Roll 5k alongside husband Steven.  Both crossed the line in 30.47 with Tracey bagging a PB to boot !  The next day Sunday, with temperatures soaring, Steve pulled on his racing shoes once more, this time for the marathon distance which he completed in 4.17.10.  Also running on Sunday but much closer to home were Paul Brothwood, Michelle Douglas, Neil Stalker,  Pamela Toward and Richard Toward.  They too took on challenges of a very demanding nature, namely the heat and the Cheviot Bomber Trail Race - 10 miles through the Cheviots to raise money for the restoration of the war memorial in memory of the airmen who lost their lives in the Cheviots.  All completed successfully and enjoyed (times tbc).  The next event on the Tweed Striders calendar is the Edinburgh Marathon Festival this coming weekend – good luck to all !

A Quiet Weekend …

There were only two events on the Tweed Striders’ calendar this weekend : the Sunderland 10k and the Alnwick Sprint Tri both on Sunday 13 May.  David Arnold enjoyed ideal conditions for the Sunderland 10k over an unexpectedly hilly course and, whilst he did not quite achieve his target, his time of 36.45 meant he finished 12th (out of 2,143) and 5th in a vastly expanded age group of 40-49 (rather than the usual 45-49).  This cracking performance sets him up nicely for the EMF 10k in a fortnight.  Meanwhile, flying the colours of Tweed Tri in the Alnwick Sprint Tri (400m swim, 21k bike and 4.75k run) were Striders David Lauckner, Pamela Toward (in her first ever triathlon), Richard Toward and Tracy Tyson.  First home for the trio was David (1.27.43), followed by Richard (1.35.45), Pamela (1.44.34 PB) and Tracy (1.53.29).  Next to pull on their racing shoes is Steve Flook in the Les Allcorn 10k on Tuesday – good luck, Steve !

From Long to Short but Very Steep !

This past weekend it was mostly about the long distances with short and very short thrown in for good measure.  Saturday 5 May saw Stephen Ball tackle the challenges of the Selkirk Trail Half Marathon where he definitely got his money’s worth as 13.1 miles transpired to be 14.59 miles !  Stephen put in a great run to finish 5th in age group (23rd overall) in 2.19.27.  The following day the mercury shot up which put paid to any thoughts of PBs for three of the four Tweed Striders who’d travelled to Scunthorpe for the North Lincolnshire Half Marathon.  Nevertheless, all coped admirably with the heat and ran very well indeed.  It was Michelle Douglas who took the tape first for the club (1.48.59), followed by Emma Jones-Watson (1.58.05), Dave Watson who did bag a PB in this his first half marathon (1.58.06 PB) and Susan Rutherford (2.13.49).  

Closer to home Stuart and Louise Black, Alison Brown, Gill Brownlie, Russell Maynard with guide runner Steve Lauder, Laura Robertson, Judith and Colin Thompson tackled the Burnmouth Brae 5k in the afternoon heat.   Alison, Colin and Steve all returned home sporting medals (Alison 1st lady, Colin 2nd Vet, Steve 3rd Vet) but, unfortunately, Russell took a tumble, in this his return to competition after a prolonged absence from running, spraining his ankle in the process.  Russell struggled bravely on, with guide runner Steve, for another half mile or so until forced to call it a day.  He is, however, undaunted as he hopes to be back running within a few weeks and is looking forward to his next race. 

No sooner was the 5k over then it was Paul Graham’s turn in the spotlight, alongside Stuart and Louise Black, as all three took on the challenge of the Brae Sprint.  Both Paul and Louise also returned home with a medal as they finished 1st in their respective age category.

Junior Tweed Striders were not to be outdone.  Alisha Black was 1st in the girls’ 11-15 race and Faye Robertson was 3rd in the girls’ U10 race.  Also running really bravely in the junior races were Sophie Black, Hugo Dick (with dad Steve), Brody and Archie Nairn. 

Earlier in the day twelve Tweed Striders plus friends met up in Duns for the club’s May Breakfast Run.  Three routes were on offer so there was a distance to suit all and all thoroughly enjoyed.  Many thanks to Gill Brownlie for her excellent organisation and to the White Swan for delicious bacon rolls and a very unexpected but very welcome selection of traybakes !

The next races on the Tweed Striders’ calendar are the Temple Trekkers’ Kilomathon and Family 5k on Saturday 19 May;  both are in aid of the My Name'5 Doddie Foundation.

Sunday in Stirling !

It was a very early start on Sunday 29 April for the 12 Tweed Striders who headed up the road for the Stirling Scottish Marathon and Half Marathon.  The conditions were rather chilly but, once warmed up, it was ideal running weather for the long distances.  Those running in the marathon - Stuart Black, Rick Davie and Andrew Douglas - were first off the start line at 8.30 am and it was Stuart who was first home for the club in 3.15.40 (PB).  In the process he knocked for six the commonly held belief that the older you get, the slower your times as, not only did he take 13 minutes off his previous PB from 2017, over the past five years he has reduced his marathon time by one full hour … Rick and Andrew put in a very sound run to take the tape in 3.58.37.  2,545 runners lined up for the half marathon an hour later at 9.30 am.  Emma Jones-Watson, Jenni McCraw and Susan Howlett, fresh from their half marathon success in Blackpool last Sunday, were first to cross the line; Emma in 1.40.26 (18th in age group), Jenni in 1.59.59 and Susan in 2.11.30, with Louise Black next to take the tape in 2.18.22 (seconds away from a PB).  Louise was followed home by four graduates from the Tweed Striders Autumn 2016 walk-jog programme in this their first half marathon : Helen Hudson (2.26.46 PB), Helen Richards (2.30.48 PB), Tracey Dick and Laura Robertson (both 2.30.49 PB), along with Julie Riley who ran so courageously to finish in 2.55.20. Neil Stalker also pulled on his running shoes but for the trails;  he completed Race 2 of the Border Trail Series - the 13 miles from Yetholm to Wooler - in 2.06.  Next up are the Scunthorpe Half Marathon and the Burnmouth Brae Races !

Some Heat, Some Running !

London was bathed in unusually warm spring sunshine on Sunday 22 April – ideal weather for absolutely everyone bar the record turnout of 40,000+ runners taking part in the Virgin Money London Marathon who experienced the hottest-ever conditions in the 38 years of the event.  Flying the flag for Tweed Striders in this their first marathon were Claire and Wayne Etherington.  And it was some first-time experience as very few can say the Queen started their race !  Or have had to run 26.2 miles from Blackheath to the Mall in such heat.  However, both Claire and Wayne dealt admirably with the conditions, putting in super runs to finish in 5.30.58 and bag a PB to boot.

Much closer to home the quintet of Colin Blackburn, Susan Howlett, Emma Jones-Watson, Jenni McCraw and Elfie Waren were all running in the flat and fast Blackpool Half Marathon, part of Fylde Coast Runners’ Blackpool Festival of Running which, over the weekend, has a distance to suit everyone from 2k to marathon.  The flat fast course definitely suited as minutes were knocked off previous PBs.  First home for the Tweed Striders quintet was Colin Blackburn who finished in 1.34.06.  Emma Jones-Watson then romped across the line as 10th female in 1.37.56 (a PB by some 4 minutes).  Jenni McCraw was next to finish in 1.58.24, thereby taking 7 minutes off her previous PB and ducking under the magical two hour mark for the very first time.  Following Jenni over the line was Susan Howlett (2.09.34 - a PB by some 6 minutes) and Elfie Waren (2.30.38).  Susan was obviously totally and utterly captivated by the atmosphere at the Blackpool Festival of Running as, no sooner had she arrived in Blackpool, then she signed up for Saturday’s 5k which she completed in 29.02 – nothing like a 5k the day before you go for a PB in the half marathon !  Finally, also racing over the weekend was Paul Brothwood in the Stockton Sprint Duathlon (1.16.05).  Next up for the club is the slightly more undulating Stirling Half Marathon on Sunday.

What a Difference a Day Makes

To quote singer Esther Phillips “what a difference a day makes” … from grey, dank and dreich on Friday to cool, bright and sunny on Saturday 14 April – a welcome surprise for those Tweed Striders taking on the challenges of the Cragside and Dunbar 10k’s.  Cragside kicked off proceedings at the relatively early hour of 9.30 am but this did not deter Christian Young as he put in a very good run to cross the line first for the club in 43.36.  Next to take the tape was Jenni McCraw (56.33) followed by Nikki Robertson (63.23 PB), Liz Howlett (66.21) and Lesley Wright (68.41 PB).  The six running in the Dunbar 10k benefitted from a more relaxed start as it was 11 am before they had to line up on the start line.  Michelle Douglas ran a sterling race once more to bring the club home in 46.14 and win the prize for 1st in age group.  Next over the line came Laura Jeffrey (50.14 PB), followed by Paul Brothwood (54.33 PB), Heather Barnes (54.46 PB), Pamela Toward (57.38) and Richard Toward (59.56 PB).  Good running all round - well done !

PBs All Round !

It was a clean sweep of PBs for Tweed Striders on Sunday 8 April, with (lucky !) thirteen to the north and one to the south.  The Tweed Striders running to the north were taking part in the Edinburgh Kilomathon.  This is a very scenic 13.1k which starts at Ocean Terminal (Leith), takes runners past the Royal Yacht Britannia, meanders somewhat around Victoria Park before following Edinburgh’s cycle path network to eventually end up in Roseburn and on to a very fast finish in the BT Murrayfield Stadium.  Emma Jones-Watson put in a superb run to cross the line first for her club in 1.00.04.  Emma’s time was a PB by six minutes and meant she finished 10th in her age group – a pity about those pesky four seconds but a goal for 2019 perhaps ?!  Next to take the tape were Stephen Ball (1.01.49 PB) and Michelle Douglas (1.03.02 PB – 6th in age group).  Following this trio home were Dave Watson (1.05.15), Colin Thompson (1.07.32), Will McDermott (1.10.42), Karen Roughead (1.11.45 - 4th in age group), Heather Barnes (1.12.15), Jenni McCraw (1.12.28), Julia Keddie (1.13.45), Caroline McDermott (1.21.30), Gill Brownlie (1.27.38) and Judith Thompson (1.28.21) – all PBs.  Meanwhile, running solo to the south in the Fleetwood 10k and enjoying a slightly more civilised start time of 10 am, was Laura Robertson.  Spurred on by the stunning views over Morcambe Bay, Laura put in a great run to finish in 1.03.06 (PB).   Congratulations to all !  Next races on the Tweed Striders calendar are the Cragside and Dunbar 10k’s.

Sole Strider

The only Tweed Strider in action the last weekend in March was Sarah Capes who ran in the Dark Skies Run @ Kielder 14 on Sunday 25thAt nearly 580 sq miles, this dark sky zone, known as Northumberland International Dark Sky Park, is the largest area of protected night sky in Europe.  The 14 mile off-road race follows the stunning Lakeside trail as it snakes around Kielder reservoir and, on a clear night, it is even possible to run sections without a torch as the moon reflects off the reservoir.  Sarah put in a super run in her first ever night-time race to finish in 3.15.09.

Two Out of Five, Could Do Better – the Weather that is !

The Beast from the East’s baby brother played havoc with races over the past weekend with only two out of the five on the Tweed Striders’ calendar going ahead.  The first of those was the High Fells of Thrunton 10k Night Run on Saturday 17 March and, whilst it did go ahead, Paul Brothwood, Michelle Douglas and Pamela Toward had to contend with very difficult conditions - blizzarding snow, ice and knee deep bogs that went on forever – plus the fact that 10k turned out to be 9.5 miles so just a tad longer than expected !  However, all coped admirably with the conditions and returned home safe and sound.  Michelle also returned home with two trophies to boot as her time of 1.46.27 (PB) meant she finished 2nd lady (a mere 19 seconds adrift), 1st in age category and 14th overall (out of 67).  Paul and Pamela also ran superbly well to take the tape in 2.06.15 and 2.18.31 (both PBs).  Sunday bore the brunt of the cancellations - Kirkley Hall Half Marathon (Susan Howlett, Emma Jones-Watson and Jenni McCraw) and Thrunton Half Marathon (Stephen Ball) plus the Lincoln 10k (David Arnold) – so it was left to Lesley Wright to fly the flag for Tweed Striders in the Loch Katrine Half Marathon, the second survivor on the calendar.  Conditions, whilst not as bad, still were not ideal but Lesley ran a sensible race to  cross the line in 2.33 (PB).

Time to Hang Up the Cross-Country Shoes

A week later than planned – courtesy of the Beast from the East – the final events of the trail and XC season finally took place.  Saturday 10 March saw Michelle Douglas and Pamela Toward return to Foxlake, near Dunbar, for the fourth and final leg of the Foxtrail 5k series and what a finale it was.  Michelle flew round the course in 23.01 to finish as first lady (4th overall), followed by Pamela who put in a storming run to take the tape in 28.43 (a course PB).  Michelle finished as first lady (third overall) in the series and Pamela as fifth lady (11th overall). The next day saw Tweed Striders head to Chirnside for the seventh and final race in the Borders XC series.  Given the volume of snow still on the ground which made a lot of the usual course a no-go-area, the host club Chirnside Chasers had to have a total course rethink and what they came up with was excellent – a two lap course which took all through gallons of mud, over snow, uphill and down dale, with an unexpected and much liked meander through woodland to boot.  Michelle Douglas brought the club home, followed by Doug Small, Stuart Birkett, Mike Bell, Will McDermott, Heather Barnes, Gill Brownlie, Paul Graham and Judith Thompson;  times are still to be confirmed.  Neil Stalker also took to the trails on Sunday in the Ingram Valley to Wooler Trail race, some 10 miles (more or less) through the beautiful Cheviot Hills, finishing in a time of 1.25.55.  Fabulous running from all !

Up, Up and Away

The last weekend in February was all about the hills and the trails.  Cold but sunny conditions and frozen ground welcomed Stephen Ball and Michelle Douglas on Saturday 24th to Glentress for the Trail Half Marathon, 13.1 miles of primarily uphill climbing through the Glentress forest.  It was a close run thing between the duo but, in the end, Michelle just had the edge and took the tape ahead of Stephen (2.26.29 and 2.29.45 respectively).   The next day it was Colin Thompson’s turn to take on the hills and trails in the shape of the 3 Eildons 10 Mile Trail Race and, like the previous day, he was greeted with cold conditions and frozen ground.   Colin took advantage of the solid ground under this feet to cross the line a whisker over 2 hours  and claim a PB – a nice present for the birthday boy !  Next weekend, on the Saturday, it’s back to Foxlake for Michelle and Pamela for the 4th and final leg of the Foxtrail 5k Series;  then, on the Sunday, for those running in the Borders XC, Chirnside is the destination for the final leg of that series.

Can there ever be too much mud ?

According to Shakespeare “the course of true love never did run smooth” but, in RunNation’s Valentines 10k in Newcastle on Sunday, the running was very smooth indeed for Emma Jones-Watson, Jenni McCraw and Dave Watson as all three put in superb runs so all returned home with PBs.  First of the trio to cross the line for Tweed Striders was Emma who finished in 44.03, thereby placing 5th in age category.  Dave, in his first-ever race, was next to take the tape (51.45) followed by Jenni who knocked some three and a half minutes off her time to finish in 55.01.  Somewhat closer to home the running at the Gala Harriers’ sixth and penultimate leg of the Borders XC series was anything but smooth comprised as it was of stream crossings, the Meigle Hill and mud – loads of it and knee-deep at one point as Will McDermott, Paul Brothwood and Gill Brownlie all found out to their cost.  Stephen Ball and Michelle Douglas brought the club home in fine style to take the tape in 30.52 and 31.03 respectively.  Next home was Mike Bell (32.36), followed by Colin Thompson (36.29), Paul Brothwood (36.52), Will McDermott (37.44), Heather Barnes (38.11), Ceri Leather (39.38), Paul Graham (41.38), Karen Bagley (43.27), Gill Brownlie (46.28), Judith Thompson (46.29) and Susan Howlett (47.00).  Once home washing machines were busy for a good part of the afternoon!

Before the seniors took to the mud, Caroline McDermott (Chair of the Borders XC Committee and Tweed Striders Head Coach) was delighted to welcome Doddie Weir to the event in order to present him with a cheque for £2,500.  This represented a donation from the Borders XC to the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation reflecting  Doddie’s recent diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease.


And, finally, on other side of the Pond, in Arizona to be precise, Lynne Fraser took part in the TMC Sunrise at Old Tucson Trail Race, a 4 mile cross country trail run through the grounds of historic Old Tucson Studios and theme park, with course highlights being single track trails, dirt roads, washes and the dusty Old Tucson Main Street.  Lynne had a ball running amidst cactus and mountains and returns home with a PB to boot (48.49).


Picture Perfect in Peebles

Whilst Tweed Strider numbers may have been down, determination was not and the six who made their way to Peebles for the 5th leg of the Borders XC, hosted by Moorfoot Running Club, took full advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and attacked the infamous hill and the endless mud with gusto.  Stephen Ball and Michelle Douglas were first man and first lady home for the club (35.49 and 36.20 respectively).  Next to take the tape was Mike Bell (37.16), followed by Pamela Toward (45.35), Judith Thompson (54.19) and Susan Howlett (57.05).  Good running all round !   The penultimate leg of the series is in Galashiels in two weeks time.

Winter bites …

The third weekend of January was hit by the weather with Sunday’s RunDurham Dalton Park 10k being cancelled for the second time.  This meant that all the running took place on the Saturday (20 January) in very cold temperatures and snowy conditions.  First out of the starting blocks were Michelle Douglas and Pamela Toward in No 3 of the Foxtrail 5k series.  This leg moved from its usual venue at Foxlake to Balgone just outside North Berwick so unfamiliar territory all round.  Michelle put in a storming run (including a sub-7 minute mile) but, nevertheless, had to settle for second place in 24.07.  Pamela also ran well to finish in 29.17.  Back on more-or-less home turf at Doddington, 10 Tweed Striders took part in the Resolution Fun Run / Walk, the proceeds of which go to Macmillan Cancer Support and Breast Cancer Care.  David Lauckner was the sole Tweed Strider in the 10k and returned home having been awarded the prestigious title of “Oldest and Boldest”.  In the 5k Colin Thompson and Julia Keddie were first home for the club with Julia taking the prize for First Lady.  Following the duo over the line were Gill Brownlie, Judith Thompson, Liz Howlett, Sam Armstrong and Sarah (Capes) with Shaun and Lily.  Joining Tweed Striders to support this very worthwhile event was Laura Thomson from Duns who took part in the 5k walk.

From Road to Off-Road !

It was business as usual the second weekend in January.  Saturday 13th saw fourteen Tweed Striders head north to Edinburgh where ideal winter running conditions awaited them for the Simplyhealth Great Winter 5k.  Melanie Ellis brought the club home in a very sound 22.20, with Jenni McCraw next to take the tape – thereby bagging a PB to boot - in 27.47.  They were followed over the line by Helen Huntly (29.32), Paul Summers (29.50 PB), Heather Dickson (30.27 PB), Kevin Dickson (30.27), Maureen Aitchison (31.32), Anne Ryland in her first 5k (32.47 PB), Gill Brownlie (32.51), Nicola Stebbing (33.00), Lorna Patton (33.07 PB), Tracey Dick and Steve Dick (both 33.33) and Julie Riley (38.14 PB).  Also running were honorary Tweed Strider Ruth Letham of Fife AC (30.48) and, in the Great Winter Junior 2.5k, Junior Strider Abigail Huntly (15.03).  The next day it was back to cross-country with the 4th leg of the Borders Series hosted by Norham Running Club in the grounds of Paxton House.  Les Turnbull, in his usual inimitable fashion, laid out a demanding course  - one full of twists and turns, steep climbs and plenty of mud – for the 218 runners who took part.  Seventeen Tweed Striders lined up on the start line with Doug Small taking the tape first for the club in 34.31.  Next to cross the line were Stephen Ball (35.37), first lady Michelle Douglas (35.41) and, a mere second behind Michelle, Steve Flook (35.42).   Following this trio were Mike Bell (35.52), Stuart Birkett (36.14), David Lauckner (39.20), Colin Thompson (40.00), Paul Brothwood (40.19), Heather Barnes (41.58), Ceri Leather (42.05), Pamela Toward (42.06), Will McDermott (42.51), Karen Bagley (45.59), Judith Thompson (50.24), Gill Brownlie and Susan Howlett (both 51.34).   Well done to everyone – a good weekend of running !

Kielder Winter Weekend

As far as running goes, Kielder was the place to be on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 January with Stephen Ball, Poppy Frater, Julia Keddie and Colin Thompson all competing but in the different events which made up the Kielder Winter Weekend.  On the Saturday Poppy and Stephen had to contend with yet more rain plus conditions underfoot that were both frosty and, courtesy of said rain, muddy.  Stephen ran in the Kielder Winter 10 Trail Race – an excellent 10 mile course complete with fast forest trails, ascents and descents - and took the tape in a sound 1.51.39.  Poppy, meanwhile, took on an event of a slightly different nature namely the Kielder Dark Sky 10k Trail Run.  Like the 10 Mile Trail Race, this race has the obligatory forest trails, ascents and descents but it is run at night so participants can enjoy the beautiful and truly awesome Northumberland International Dark Sky Park which is England’s First Dark Park and, thanks to minimal light pollution, the largest expanse of dark night sky in the whole of Europe.  Starry sky aside Poppy coped admirably with trail running at night and the conditions underfoot to cross the line in 1.16.36. The next day it was the turn of Julia and Colin to take on the challenges of Kielder but in the form of the Kielder Off-Road Duathlon, a 8k trail run, a 20k mountain bike and a 7k trail run.  The intrepid duo did have the luxury of winter sunshine to bring some cheer as they navigated the forest tracks and woodland trails but, unfortunately, due to the severe overnight frost and sub-zero temperatures which turned everything that could possibly freeze to ice, they faced very challenging conditions both on foot and on the bike, as well as on-going freezing temperatures which the sunshine did not alleviate.  Cycling uphill became a question of two pedals up one back and cycling downhill was fast, furious and precarious – precarious also neatly describes both runs.    It was tough, with a few unavoidable tumbles, but they finished, Julia in 4.29.41 (56.03, 2.34.01, 59.36) and Colin in 4.29.44 (56.00, 2.34.01, 59.42).  Many congratulations to Julia and Colin, also to Poppy and Stephen.

Getting 2018 off to a Flying Start – the Portobello Promathon

Many congratulations to Gill Brownlie, Colin Thompson and Judith Thompson who flew the flag on New Year’s Day for Tweed Striders at the Portobello Promathon, a fast 4 miles up and down and back along the prom.  It was PBs all round with Colin bringing the trio home in 33.11, followed by Gill (41.07) and Judith (42.07).

And it snowed !

Sub-zero temperatures did not deter as there was a bumper attendance at the Tweed Striders’ leg of the Borders Cross-Country on Sunday 10 December.  104 juniors braved the cold to line up on the start line with Fraser Kelly (Team East Lothian AC) bettering his time and repeating his 2016 success to take first spot in an amazing 9.01.  Second boy home was Fraser Clyne of Teviotdale Harriers (9.11).  Success in the girls’ race went again to Team East Lothian AC with Esme Callander taking the tape in 10.49, followed by Lauderdale Limpers Running Club’s Ruth Farnsworth (11.03).  Snow brought a very festive feel to the seniors’ race and once again the spoils went to the Edinburgh clubs.  First of the 190 seniors to cross the line in 21.12 was Eoin Lennon of Carnethy Hill Racing Club, thereby making it three wins of out three races.  Second spot went to Hunters Bog Trotters’ Scott James (21.20).  The ladies’ race was won by Lisa MacDonald (Unattached) in 25.40 and, in second place, was Carnethy’s Rachel Newstead (25.48).  Bringing home the 16 Tweed Striders in fine style was Doug Small who finished in 29.36.  Doug was followed home by Steve Flook (29.58) and chasing Steve hard were Mike Bell (30.09), Stuart Birkett (30.43) and Stephen Ball (31.26).  Next to take the tape in 31.33 was Michelle Douglas (first Tweed Striders lady) and following Michelle were Colin Thompson (33.26), David Lauckner (33.31), Paul Brothwood (36.30), Heather Barnes (36.57), Ceri Leather (37.14), Will McDermott (37.15), Pamela Toward (37.33), Karen Bagley (40.46), Susan Howlett (42.50) and, fresh from Social Bite’s Sleep in the Park, Gill Brownlie (43.34).  Caroline and Jud extend their sincere and grateful thanks to everyone (marshals, timekeepers, recorders, funnel controllers) who made the day’s races such a great success.  The XC now takes a break until Sunday 14 January when Norham Running Club host the fourth leg in the grounds of Paxton House.

Foxlake and more - much more !

The weekend’s running kicked off at 6 pm exactly on Friday 1 December with Michelle Douglas and Pamela Toward setting the trend for Tweed Striders in the FoxTrail Night 5k at Foxlake, Dunbar.  Michelle ran an outstanding race to finish 1st lady and 4th overall in 23.38, with Pamela taking the tape in a very good 30.52.   The following day the action returned to Foxlake for the inaugural FoxTrail Nocturnal Ultra Marathon.  Starting at 4 pm, the aim of this race is to run, in the next six hours, as many laps of the 5k course as possible over a mixture of different and challenging (muddy, soft, slippy) terrain.  Melanie Ellis was the Strider up for this challenge and she did brilliantly : 10 laps - 50k - in the six hours.  Sunday it was the turn of Emma Jones-Watson, Tracey Dick and Steve Flook to fly the flag for Tweed Striders.  Tracey and Emma were in Edinburgh to run, respectively, in the Christmas 5k and 10k which took runners in and around Inverleith Park.  It was an early Christmas present for Tracey who returned home with a PB of 32.54 and so nearly one for Emma who crossed the line in 45.40.  Meanwhile much further south Steve was running in the Nottingham Christmas Marathon.  Steve put in a very sound performance to take the tape in 4.06.33.  Next dates in the Tweed Striders’ diary is our Christmas Night out on Friday followed by our XC on Sunday at Spittal.

So so cold

Glorious sunshine accompanied by a bitterly cold wind and low temperatures greeted Emma Jones-Watson and Jenni McCraw at Kirkley Hall for RunNorthumberland’s Big 10 Miler on Sunday 26 November.  Both ran a super race, with Emma taking the tape in 1.14.47 and Jenni in 1.32.15, to return home with a PB apiece.   Meanwhile at White Sands, Dunbar identical conditions awaited the 12 Tweed Striders who took part in the 2nd leg of the Borders Cross-Country Series.  Steve Flook brought the club home in 33.56, followed by Mike Bell (34.28), Stuart Birkett (34.41), Stephen Ball (35.05), Michelle Douglas (36.37), Colin Thompson (38.01), David Lauckner (38.39), Paul Brothwood (39.55), Pamela Toward (44.26), Karen Bagley (47.10), Gill Brownlie (50.27) and Judith Thompson (50.35).  Well done, everyone !

From Half to Full and From Trail to Road

This weekend has belonged to the long distance and to be precise, on Saturday 18 November, to trail long distance with Michelle Douglas, Mike Bell and Sarah Capes all running in the Wooler Trail Half Marathon and Stephen Ball in the Glentress Trail 21k.  However, the name Wooler Trail Half Marathon is rather a misnomer as it is, in fact, some 14 miles through the Cheviots complete with some 2,434 feet of ascent.  Michelle and Mike ran the event together, putting in great runs to finish a mere three seconds apart – Mike took the tape in 2.34.18 (PB) and Michelle in 2.34.21 (PB).  Sarah also put together a good run to finish in 3.23.18 (PB).  Meanwhile in Peebles Stephen tackled terrain of a slightly different but no less demanding nature – the forest trails of Glentress – and crossed the line in 2.30.31 (PB).  Sunday saw the running back on the road with Melanie Ellis racing in the Newcastle Town Moor Marathon, a seven lap race on footpaths through and around Newcastle’s historic Exhibition Park and Town Moor.  Mel ran a well controlled and soundly paced race to finish in 3.43.40.

One Busy Saturday !

Holyrood Park and the Edinburgh MoRun was the place to be the morning of Saturday 11 November.  Seventeen Tweed Striders in total took part, 15 in the 5k and two in the 10k.  In the 5k Emma Jones-Watson and Karen Roughead put together super runs to bring the club home, as 2nd and 3rd lady respectively, in a time of 26.50.  In addition Emma was 2nd and Karen 1st in their respective age categories and, overall, they placed 28th and 29th out of 246 – fantastic running from them both !  Next to take the tape was Jenni McCraw (28.31 PB), followed by Paul Summers (31.31 PB), Nicola Stebbing (31.33), Sarah Turnbull (33.02 PB), Maureen Aitchison (33.19), Laura Robertson (33.30), Sam Armstrong (33.50), Liz Howlett (33.51), Susan Howlett (34.11), Tracey Dick (34.19 PB), Jackie Gray and Lorna Patton (both 35.21 and PB), Linzi Middlemist (37.43), Laura Doolan (38.20) and Jodi Mace (43.46).  Heather and Kevin Dickson represented Tweed Striders in the 10k.  This was Heather’s first 10k and, encouraged by Kevin, Heather put in a super run to finish in 66.23 (PB) exactly one second in front of Kevin (66.24).  One 5k in the bag, Emma, Karen, Liz, Sam and Susan then hit the road and joined Gill Brownlie and Julia Keddie to run in the Supernova Kelpies 5k in Helix Park near Falkirk, the place to be in the evening – at 7 pm to be precise.  This 5k offers runners to explore the home of the two Kelpies, mythical creatures (in essence, two 30-metre high horses each weighing over 300 tonnes) which love to play at dusk.  Julia Keddie took the tape first (25.17), followed by Karen Roughhead (25.35), Emma Jones-Watson (25.36), Gill Brownlie (30.50 PB), Liz Howlett (32.43), Sam Armstrong (32.43) and Susan Howlett (32.44).

A Great Weekend On and Off Road !

Michelle Douglas and Pamela Toward got the weekend’s racing off to a flying start on Saturday 4 November at the Foxtrail 5k in East Lothian.  Michelle literally flew round the course in 23.13, thereby finishing 1st lady and 3rd overall, with Pamela putting in a very sound run to take the tape in 30.07 and on Sunday Stephen Ball flew the flag for Tweed Striders in the Edinburgh Men’s 10k (45.50).  Also on Sunday, but somewhat closer to home, it was the first leg of the Borders XC Series in Lauder with 14 Tweed Striders taking on the challenges of this demanding course.  Steve Flook, fresh from his exploits in Snowdonia, was first home for the club (36.43).  Next over the line were Douglas Small (37.53) and Mike Bell (38.54).  Michelle Douglas, in action for the second time in two days, was first lady to take the tape for Tweed Striders (38.54) and following Michelle home were Colin Thompson (42.22), David Lauckner (43.15), Paul Brothwood (43.38), Ceri Leather (45.16), Heather Barnes (45.33), Pamela Toward (49.01), Karen Bagley (51.34), Gill Brownlie (55.27), Judith Thompson (56.16) and Susan Howlett (57.52).  Well done to all !