Hartlepool Burn Road Harriers compete at Blencathra, Durham Coast, Penshaw and Chase The Train!

editorial image

The Blencathra Fell Race took place in the beautiful, secluded village of Mungrisedale.

Set on the far shoulders of one of the grandest mountains in the Lake District, this race is a gem. 

At eight miles long with around 3,000ft of climbing, this race is very challenging and a real test for anyone.

As well as the main summit of Blencathra, the route also takes in two smaller fell tops of Bowscale Fell and Souther Fell.

The start was quite rough and chaotic and Hartlepool Burn Road Harrier Andrew Minister found himself faced with a short quick dash across rough, boggy pasture before hitting the narrow single track path ascending steeply through gorse bushes, up onto the ridgeline high above.

He got caught up behind a host of runners but didn’t panic as he knew there would be plenty of time to make up ground as the race progressed.

At this point it’s hand on knees stuff until the steepness of the ground eases as you gain the ridge line where you can start running again.

Andrew was feeling strong and passed people at regular intervals as he progressed along the ridge, with views across towards the Solway Firth and Scotland on the right to help take runners’ minds of the task ahead.

After a few miles of fairly tough running along the grassy ridgeline, a short exhilarating descent took the runners down to a pass below the huge bulk of the back of Blencathra, with the sight of an ominously big climb to ascend immediately.

Thankfully by this time Andrew was totally into the swing of the race and attacked the climb with everything he had, a mixture of hand on legs climbing to a shuffling jog when the opportunity arose.

He was climbing strongly and reached the summit plateau quickly.

The the fun of fast, tricky downhill descents began.

Over a mile of fast descending hurtling down the ridge towards the pass below Souther Fell.

Steep at first but predominantly on grass, the descent encourages runners to go as fast as the dare for as long as they can, pure exhilaration, surrounded by magnificent mountain views.

The last effort of this race, was possibly the most challenging for Andrew, as it is a brutally steep plunge down a few hundred metres of open fellside to the finish.

And so it was that around a dozen runners flew past him on this section, leaving him feeling a little down-heartened.

That soon passed and on reflection he was over the moon with the time of 1hr 20 minutes, finishing in the top third of the 165 strong field.

The Durham Coastal Half Marathon was raced over the hills and trails of the coast from Nose’s Point at Seaham to Crimdon Dene.

There are over 300 steps to climb halfway through the race and the course is well known for being challenging but very scenic and enjoyable.

Vaughan Godber came third in this race last year and was looking good at the halfway point for another podium finish.

He dug deep over the latter section of the gruelling run and secured a fantastic second place overall in 1:31:27. A great time in hot conditions.

Darren Armstrong was also heading for a podium finish but lost some ground, not feeling too well over the latter half of the race.

However he did equal last year’s placing, coming in fifth in 1:34:43.

Tony Oliver was 17th in 1:42:12, followed by a great performance from Mick Stafford who finished in 1:44:48.

The next Harrier to cross the finish line was Simon Lawlor in 1:53:41, a great time for Simon considering all of the steps and undulating nature of the course.

Phillip Thompson ran a 1:57:48 half, with Bill Hornby next in 2:04:23.

Greg Swinbourne came in a minute after Bill in 2:05:42, just pipping Marie Taylor to the post. Marie Finished in 2:05:44.

Graeme Surtees was pleased with his run of 2:13:05, with Angela Lawlor next, who is continuing to take on the challenging events in preparation for her marathon later in the year.

Angela crossed the finish line in 2:19:17, followed by Claire Earle in 2:21:39.

Pauline Ranson beat last years’ time by over three minutes to finish in 2:31:29, followed by Cary Surtees, happy to see the finish and a time of 2:35:57.

Ten Harriers travelled to Grosmont to take on the inaugural Chase the Train Race.

This was a 8.4 mile hilly run over the moors, with many long and steep climbs as well as lots of steps and challenging terrain. Certainly not a race for the feint hearted and even less so in 28 degree heat.

The train took just over 1 hour and 21 minutes, setting a tricky target given the conditions.

Andrew Minister led the Burn Road contingency around the course, enjoying being back on the moors and doing what he does best.

He finished in a remarkable time of 59:50 for sixth place.

Gareth Foreman was the second Harrier to beat the train, finishing in 1:12:08, followed by Phillip Thompson, just beating the train in 1:21:03.

Despite digging deep, Jane Wistow just missed beating the train and was a bit disappointed with her time of 1:23:08.

However, she vowed to be back next year and hopes the sun will ease off a little to give a fairer chance.

Greg Swinbourne was ahead of Jane for much of the race and came in very happy to see the finish line in 1:25:13.

Alan Robson had a great run to finish in 1:31:01. Marie Taylor did not feel good two miles into the race, with the sun and hay fever medication combining to set her on track for a very difficult time.

Jo Beddow caught up and they stayed together, having no other option than to take it easy as Marie was not feeling well at all. They finished together in 1:35:02 and once recovered, joined the rest of the team and supporters for a very well earned pint of local Whitby beer.

Julie McGrath loves these types of races and had a great time over the hills, enjoying crossing the finish line in 1:55:58. Christopher Grath finishing in 2:10:02.

Leigh Owbridge and Tony Oliver ran the Penshaw Monument Trail Half Marathon. Leigh finished 17th overall of 210 runners in 1:57:48, with Tony Oliver 25th in 2:02:01.