26 July 2015 – Snowdonia Trail Marathon

Nine Striders headed off to North Wales for the inaugural Snowdonia Trail Marathon (and half).  Both routes were off-road courses that took in a visit to (almost) the summit of Mount Snowdon – via the Ranger Path for the half, and the Pyg Track for the full marathon, which included around 6,000 feet of ascent.

As Llanberis filled with runners and tourists on the Saturday afternoon ahead of the race, the warm July sunshine masked what the mountain weather forecasts were saying – Sunday (race day) would be very windy, wet and would feel like minus 6 in the wind chill towards the top.  The organisers announced full body waterproofs, hat and gloves would all be mandatory kit…

Katie Hateley and Luke Eggleston completed the “half” in 3hrs 01min and 3.03 respectively, with the “full” being conquered by Jim Hatherley (5.31), Rob Beers (5.38), Rich Gray (6.25), John Houghton (6.35), Dan Valencia (6.38), Michael Atton (6.40) and Simon Bottrill (6.42).

Full report from Rob is below:

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I entered this not long after it was announced, sounded brilliant and not soon after was joined by Dan Valencia and then it got silly with a whole horde of us being tagged in things and entering it but of course all in a brilliant way.

So somehow we got it all sorted, accommodation, transport, food, directions and made it to Jesse James bunkhouse in Llandeniolen for the nine Stilton Striders doing the race (7 doing the Marathon, 2 doing the half).

Despite rocking up in North Wales to staggeringly nice weather, the forecast for the race on Sunday was quite severe with heavy rain predicted so we thankfully were all well kitted out or so we thought.

The quickly sold out 800 field started at 10:00am in wet weather running both the half and full Marathon with already many people walking in the first mile on the road over towards Llyn Cwellyn. Suddenly avoiding those who chose to start walking or who wouldn’t recognise running courtesy was a bit annoying the first few miles over the mountain path but the field after the top started to string out more on rather a lovely descent where by then the race split in two (half and Full routes).

A mile of road between Llyn Cwellyn and the village of Rhyd Ddu before heading into the trails of Beddgelert Forest which provided some scenic and enjoyable trail running. Into the popular tourist village of Beddgelert itself before taking the path alongside the river that comes out besides Llyn Dinas, very muddy along here and wearing winter fell shoes paid off massively, indeed she did take a stud today.

The course veered the steep side of the Gwynant valley, circumnavigating the lake with some stiff climbs and quite technical woodland before coming out at the Gwynant campside and then the long pull up to Pen Y Pass which was a real stamina drainer.

Pen Y Pass, the highest road in the UK was 20 miles in, so in your head it’s a `mere 10k to finish` looking at my watch and thinking Hmm if this was a Road Marathon I’d be finished by now, the Pyg track for most is un-runnable with huge sections of rocky outcrops and as we ascend higher and into worse weather, many sections are climbs and scrambles rather than even walking. Its 22 miles and in and the temperature is dropping quickly, the rain hammering down and blowy as anything, I can’t explain what this feels like after your already tired from running and all the previous amount of ascent. Seriously ask any member doing the full and given the chance they would’ve retired from the race given the chance, it was severe, making it to the top wasn’t the good bit but getting down a bit further and the temperature rising was much more satisfying. So I reach the top, OK maybe I should point out I’m still wearing my Stilton vest at this point as too cold to put my base layer on, thankfully I’m directed downhill and I make it to train bridge and know I’m going to live to fight another day. Whilst I consider myself and fellow Striders doing this event very strong runners it is a concern for those perhaps not of our ability doing the event and hopefully the race organisers will think seriously about pre-requisites for race entries for the next event of this race.

The long descent down the Llanberis path finally see`s the legs wake up again, although when we hit road again it’s not the easy way back to the finish but were re-directed through some woods, then again at the side of Castell Dolbadarn and then just as I think we’re going towards the old Hospital finally the finish comes into sight.! I know it had been misjudged mile wise but to find out it was 29.3 miles rather than the advertised 26.2 was irresponsible of the organiser, especially given the terrain and the freak weather. The last and most dangerous section of the race 9.3 miles took over 2 hours to complete which really says it all how tough it was.

I had a lovely welcome from Katie and Luke who had done the HM and from Jim when I came in; apparently I was very blank and dazed. I sat there in the hall after dripping wet huddled in my coat before eventually realizing what I`d done, 29.3 miles including Snowdon! And only 7 minutes behind one of Strider`s fastest runners! It certainly took time and kind hearted Jim fetching me a cuppa to realize the magnitude of what had gone before. I know young Simon Bottrill suffering with recurring injury and repeatedly telling anyone who`d listen beforehand he was considering dropping to the half, yet ran the full and was last Strider which he was slightly down about-It doesn’t matter! Your first Ultra good man, massive endurance both physically and mentally to have done it at all, I salute you!

Scariest, toughest race any of us have ever been in bar none, we all felt great we did it and had an absolutely awesome weekend that we will never forget. Thanks to the team who came away hope we can have such a great trip next year wherever it may be, not only an unforgettable race experience but a great bonding experience where tears of laughter were never far away.  [Rob]

18 July 2015 – Crich Monument Race

The race is an 11km (7mile) event with 1,000 feet of ascent, set in the Derbyshire countryside not too far from the tramway museum and monument and is one of the main feature events of the Crich fete.

On a nice sunny day, Stuart Gregory was the only Stilton Strider to make his way to the start line.  A modest mile of undulation started the runners off, before a marked descent into the Derwent valley, which took some early victims due to the uneven nature of the ground.  This was then followed by a nice canal run of around 2 miles before the ascent to the monument began.  They early part of the climb is quite steep before levelling off and, with most people walking that section, a steady march helped Stuart to pass a few competitors who were finding the early climb a struggle.

After a short downhill section, they were off again and a strong push up the steepest part of the route saw off a further five competitors.  Some splendid views over the top of the course before a moderate mile downhill to the finish which saw Stuart overtake what remained of the back of the race with just 400 metres to go, to finish in 1hr 24min 39s.  It would be great to see a few more Striders vests in attendance next year to add to this cracking event.  [Stuart]

10 July 2015 – Rainbows 100 Lap Challenge

Rapidly becoming one of the most enjoyable evenings on the calendar, the Rainbows 100 Lap Challenge once again lived up to its reputation.  With mixed teams of 20 or so runners taking on the challenge of completing 100 laps of the Saffron Lane Athletics Stadium, the event has a great atmosphere, with huge amounts of support from all for runners from all the teams.

With intermediate timings being announced over the tannoy, it was clear from early on that 3 teams had pulled away at the head of the field – Beaumont, Striders Seniors and, in an early lead, Striders Juniors.  The three teams exchanged the lead several times and gaps of less than 1 lap of the track remained as the runners approached the 10 laps to go point.


Ultimately, and for the first time in many years, the extra “experience” of our Senior team won through as they finished in first place, closely followed by the Juniors in second.  A great night was had by all – same time, same place next year?

A few more photos can be found here.

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A view from the track (by Mr Rob Beers):

My first time running this, in the past it sounded very much like a Scooby Doo type of thing “And we would’ve won if it wasn’t for those darn pesky kids”, in relation to our stunning junior Striders division. The Senior Striders team were up against not only our ultra fast juniors but Wigston Phoenix, Beaumont RC, Huncote Harriers, West End RC, Bowline CC,  Desford Striders, Anstey RC and a Parkrun select.

Just the small task at Saffron Lane Sports Stadium in Leicester of beating ever other team to running 100 lapsof 400 metres first. Started off by our shiny speedster Jason Barton we got the challenge underway, most interesting was thespeed of people who took off like a scolded cat for 250 metres then really felt the burn and tire in their legs. There were so many good runs and heroic moments throughout the night that I can’t chronicle them all here but will mention the forever humble Ian Johnson and Striders Lady legend Nicola Clay who just looked awesome every lap they did. The young showboating but totally speed on legs Alex Riley who may as I believe ran the fastest lap of the night. Michael Atton who found eternal stardom and notoriety with his alter ego “Chris”, it would be Striders and other clubs alike cheering in this wrongly named hero.

I got to run five laps, I must say it gets easier after the first one where you sort of naturally go off too quick then feel like your sprinting up Snowdon the last 100 metres. Special mention to Stuart Gregory representing his second claim club Desford Striders (And running very well may I add) who came on saying we were on course to win the event. Captain Mike Bryan rang the bell for 99 laps as the Baton switched for Jason Barton who started the race for Stilton to run the 100th lap and bring victory to Stilton Striders senior team in the 2015 Rainbows 100 lap challenge!

9 July 2015 – Leicester City 5k

Jason Barton and Stuart Gregory (racing for the 3rd time in 3 days) were at the 3rd race in the Leicester City summer 5k series on a warm and sunny evening in Victoria Park.  Jason Barton, displaying more of his recent great form, ran a course best 17.22 to finish in 7th place, and 6th senior male [3rd per Run Britain, as most of the quicker runners were juniors – Ed.] .   With much recent racing taking its toll, Stuart eased back from half way to finish in 30.31.

8 July 2015 – Nottingham 5k series

Stuart Gregory was the only Strider to make his way to Colwick Park for race three in the four race series.  After narrowly missing a PB the day before, Stuart was looking for an improved time compared to recent performances over the distance.  He set off well and kept a steady pace over the two laps to close out his best time on the Colwick course to finish in 33rd place in 27.45.