Special Relationship … from UK to USA

The running this weekend was a mix of road and trail.  Pulling on their trail shoes ready to face the challenges of the rather soggy and muddy 12 miles following the St Cuthbert’s Way from Fenwick to Wooler (Race 1 of the Cheviot Trail Series) were Heather Barnes, Michelle Douglas, Laura Jeffrey, Neil Stalker and Rich Toward.  Neil was first home for the club in 1.45.26; he was followed over the line by Laura (2.18.24), Heather (2.18.32) then Michelle (2.21.05) and Rich (2.21.06).

Meanwhile Ruth Ballard pulled on her road racing shoes for the RunNorthumberland Half Marathon at Kirkley Hall, Ponteland, where she raced to a PB of 1.47.28.

And, finally, just as runners in the UK were contemplating putting their feet up, on the other side of the pond Heather and Kevin Dickson were lining up on Prospect Park’s Center Drive for the United Airlines New York City Half Marathon.  From there they ran through the streets of Brooklyn, over the Manhattan Bridge, up FDR Drive, through Times Square and Central Park before finishing at the Tavern on the Green in 2.26.37 and 2.26.38 respectively.

It’s over till November !

That’s it – time to hang up the cross-country shoes as today’s leg in Galashiels signalled the end of 2018-2019 Borders XC Series. Having run in all eight legs, in the junior race Euan Watson ran like the star he is – he crossed the line in 15.08 and was rewarded with a very well deserved medal plus a fabulous badge designed by Tweed Striders very own Faye Robertson, age 7, who won the memento design competition.  In the seniors race Stuart Black and Michelle Douglas finished the series as they started by crossing the line respectively as first Tweed Striders man and first Tweed Striders lady in 28.00 and 32.23.  Stephen Ball and Paul Brothwood finished between Stuart and Michelle (31.22 and 31.31 respectively), then following Michelle came Andrew Douglas (32.42), Doug Small (33.30), Laura Jeffrey (34.51), David Lauckner (35.17), Heather Barnes (37.06), Susan Howlett and Jud Thompson (both 47.25).  Well done to everyone who ran today and to the entire Tweed Striders XC team – fabulous running from all !

Sole Strider

Well done to Stephen Ball, the sole Strider racing this weekend !  Stephen took on the longer Foxtrail event – the 13k –  which he completed in a sound 1.02.03.  Next weekend is the final leg of the Borders XC Series hosted by Gala Harriers.  This heralds the end of the cross-country season for Tweed Striders - bring on the road !

The Dwarfs of Simonside

Sarah Capes was the only Strider in action this past weekend and she ventured down to the Simonside Hills, near Rothbury, on Saturday evening to take on the challenges of the Duergar Nightcrawler, a ten mile trail race which pits runners against the Duergar – the dwarfs of Simonside.  The Duergar derive great satisfaction in leading travellers – runners - astray after nightfall … they light their torches, then stay ahead of confused visitors leading them deeper into the pitch-black Northumberland wilderness until they fall into a bog or plunge from a precipice to their demise.  The race was “brutal” but, luckily for Tweed Striders, Sarah wore her trusty head torch and off-road shoes so she was able to keep an eye out for – and evade - the Duergar to take the tape safe and sound in 3.14.  And many congratulations to Faye Robertson who, alongside mum Laura, completed the Alnwick Park Run (her first) last weekend.

One to go …

The penultimate leg of the Borders XC hosted by neighbours Chirnside Chasers was well supported by Tweed Striders, with one junior and 16 seniors making the short hop, skip and jump across the border.  The Chasers put on a fast, extremely runnable course which took runners through the wood that had proved so popular the year before and, of course, being as it is Chirnside, there was the ubiquitous hill back up to the finish !  Once again Euan Watson proved himself to be the ultimate trooper in the junior race;  he took the tape in 23.34.  In the seniors event it was Stuart Black and Stephen Ball who finished first and second for the Striders for the fourth time this season (30.48 and 33.36 respectively).  Following them over the line were Paul Brothwood (35.29), Stuart Birkett (35.55), Michelle Douglas (first Tweed Strider lady in 35.57), Andrew Douglas (36.23), Ciaran Gallacher (37.02), Doug Small (37.53), Laura Jeffrey (38.11), Heather Barnes (40.49), Rich Toward (43.52), Susan Howlett (46.19), Paul Graham (47.01), Karen Bagley (48.41), Gill Brownlie (51.36) and Judith Thompson (51.37).  The eighth and final leg of this season’s Borders XC will be hosted by Gala Harriers on Sunday 10 March.

De España a Escocia

Only three musketeers were in action this weekend (Sunday 10th) : Heather Barnes and Laura Jeffrey in the Lilliesleaf 10k and, venturing much further afield, Susan Howlett in the Barcelona Half Marathon where she lined up alongside 16,410 others.  The half-marathon in Barcelona is also known as the Mitja Marató de Barcelona and is the second largest running event in Barcelona after the marathon.  Its 21k route takes runners on a guided tour through Barcelona, starting from the Arc de Triomf, before going through the old town, down the world-famous Ramblas, along Avenida del Parallel and on to the modern Eixample district.  It then strikes east to the Torre Agbar, one of Barcelona’s most striking buildings, before taking runners along the Diagonal and the beach to the Parc de la Ciutadella, then back to the finish at the Arc de Triomf.  It will have undoubtedly been an experience not to be forgotten and Susan put in a superb run to take the tape in 2.13.07.  Much closer to home, Heather and Laura took on challenges of a different sort as they faced the off-road, grass, very hilly and “nicely” muddy course, complete with fantastic views of the Eildon and Cheviot Hills, that is the very popular Lilliesleaf 10k which, this year, was raising money for Stable Life, an extremely worthwhile charity which supports the Borders’ most vulnerable and challenging young people.  Like Susan, both had a ball - Laura was the first of the duo home (55.32), with Heather mere minutes behind (62.00).  Next Sunday sees the penultimate leg of the Borders XC hosted by Chirnside Chasers.

Winter struck

It was off-road running all the way this past weekend.  Stephen Ball was the only Strider in action on Saturday when, in temperatures barely above freezing, he took on the challenges of the Foxtrail Harvest Moon Half Marathon, 13.1 miles encompassing rough track, tarmac, lumpy bumpy fields, sand – all extremely solid underfoot - as well as water.  Nothing phased Stephen, however, as he had a superb run to finish in 1.45.25 and 43rd out of 212.  Sunday saw a slightly diminished Striders XC team of 11 make the journey to Minto, near Hawick, for the Teviotdale Harriers’ leg.  This is first time Teviotdale Harriers have hosted a leg in the XC series and it was a very fine leg indeed !  The weather was a repeat of Saturday – very cold with the added extra of snow – and the terrain underfoot was frozen solid so not at all forgiving.  The junior course was some 3.8k and took the junior runners through woodland at Minto Glen and parkland near Lilylaw Lodge before finishing back at Minto Golf Clubhouse.  Euan Watson, once more, took everything in his stride and finished in a sound 25.02.  The 6.6k senior course followed that of the junior course with the extra – and very tough – extension of a loop around Minto Crags followed by a relentless steep climb to Fatlips Castle before the descent back to the finish.  Stuart Black was first to finish for Tweed Striders in 32.41.  He was followed home by Stephen Ball (34.50), Andrew Douglas (36.04), Doug Small (36.37), Steven Flook (37.25), Michelle Douglas, first Tweed Strider lady (37.26), David Lauckner (40.03), Richard Toward (44.51), Gill Brownlie (52.00) and Judith Thompson (53.27).

Lone Strider !

Laura Jeffrey was the sole Tweed Strider in action this weekend.  Laura took on the Dalby Forest Head Torch Race, the first in the Winter 2019 No Ego Challenge Series.  This is a five mile race run at night on a combination of single narrow tracks, fire breaks, forest trails and gravel paths through the mighty Dalby Forest in North Yorkshire.  Conditions, whilst milder than of late, were not ideal as it was very wet with oodles of mud underfoot but Laura took all in her stride to finish 131st out of 420 in a very good 51.43.  The next events on the Tweed Striders’ calendar are the Foxtrail Harvest Moon Half Marathon on Saturday and the 6th leg of the Borders XC hosted by newcomers to the series, Teviotdale Harriers, on Sunday.

From Foxlake to Wooler

Very cold temperatures, a dank dreich morning but good conditions underfoot greeted the four Tweed Striders at Foxlake for Round 4 of the Foxtrail Series.  Stephen Ball took on the longer distance of 16k where he finished 56th out of 235 in a very good 1.21.05 and, in the 5k race, Julia Keddie brought the trio home in 28.18 followed by Colin Thompson (29.17) and Judith Thompson (35.17).  In complete contrast to the previous day Sunday dawned bright and sunny for the MacMillian Resolution 5k and 10k races in Wooler.  Michelle Douglas was first Strider to take the tape in the 5k.  Following Michelle over the line were Laura Jeffrey, Steve Lauder, Richard Toward, Heather Barnes, Pamela Toward, Jenni McCraw and Judith Thompson.  It was left to Gill Brownlie and the exuberant Buddy to fly the flag for Tweed Striders in the 10k.