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 (and 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 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 Chevipt Hill, 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 !