The Montane Cheviot Goat Winter Ultra Race – by Simon Bray

“Welcome to Hell”
This is how a Mountain Rescue safety marshal described the race so I knew I was in for a real treat!

This was the third year of this race, but the rise in entries from 18, ~100 to 250 this year suggest its already becoming an infamous classic, sold as one of the most isolated and tough 55 mile races in England.

I’ve still not decided why i entered, I’d no experience of a solo, self-sufficient ultra, but it seemed like a good challenge to push myself as training for the Arc of Attrition next February, plus I’d completed the inaugural UTS50 in May with twice the elevation, so how hard could this be? Just a bit colder and soft underfoot?

I was very, very wrong.

The first marathon went well, I was actually enjoying it with the summer’s niggles not really bothering me (no more than I’d had before). Fuelled by pork pie and cheesy puffs, nav was easy on the unmarked course, only ever needing the map with good visibility making the compass and GPS unnecessary.
The course was nicely undulating with plenty of peat bogs and impeding barbed wire fences but still runnable sections to make good progress.
The only real issue was sore and ice cold, numb feet; I’d chosen to start in zero-cushioned Inov8’s, chosen for grip rather than comfort, and non-waterproof socks because I’d expected the bogs to come over the top and end up sloshing around. This was all tolerable, I knew I had waterproof socks and comfier shoes stashed in the drop bag waiting at the only aid station at the half-way.
So, 7:30 hrs and I was half-way, looking forward to warming up with a cuppa – this was the only proper aid station, otherwise there was a safety marshal approx every 5 miles, and water every 10.
The pit stop was in a remote farmhouse; and it was chaotic, bodies and kit everywhere, squeezing through the tiny kitchen area where volunteers were trying to dish out soup to us bedraggled runners. I was lucky and arrived in time to find one of the few sofa seats become available. I could hear lots of conversations from people dropping out and staff arranging transport. At the briefing the RD said this was the last spot for vehicle transport back, if you leave the farm you’re running, walking or crawling to the finish with no more access for 4X4’s onto the course.
I stuffed down a southern fried chicken wrap washed down with a large tea and some soup, so with changed socks and shoes, and the cheat sticks making their first appearance I headed back out fairly quickly – that was the end of the beginning.
It started to rain – a lot; visibility started to drop, I saw less and less competitors, and I’d heard the rumours about how much harder the second half would be – this was to be the start of the test i came here for!
I can’t remember much specific of the next few hours, apart for almost continuous sodden peat bogs, reed beds and grassy hills, it was a case of get my head down and make as much progress in daylight as I could. One of the marshal points had a fire pit, but a glaringly sad absence of sausages.
With reducing visibility the GPS became invaluable, saving significant time over map and compass.Mentally working out how much daylight was probably left in fast fading conditions I was hoping to make the only hut out on course so i could sort night-time kit out sheltered from the weather. As darkness descended this hope was fading, but just as i was preparing for a brief stop i could see the blinking beacon from the hut, hard to tell the distance in the drizzle and mist i pressed on and made it with just the last vestiges of twilight to light the way.
A quick set up of the headtorch, spare torch, batteries and powerpack moved to easier access I headed back out.
This was the start of the 3-yard stare, just the ground at my feet illuminated through the gloom.
The next few hours passed slowly in complete darkness and isolation – the sporadic glimpses of a feint glow from other lone runners giving some slight sense of security.
The route followed the pennine way for much of the night, with the benefit of mostly submerged flag stones – at least underfoot was firmer but the stones were slippy and at night a 12 min/mile jog was the best i could muster with any confidence of not tripping or slipping into the obsidium blackness of the bogs on both sides.
After a couple of wrong turns, quickly corrected with my new best friend the Garmin GPS64s, I ended up in a leap-frog contest with a fellow competitor (Russ) – he’d beat me uphill, I’d take him on the flat and down. At least now we could share navigation and check each others errors; and he was a veteran of the 108 mile, 60 hour Spine Challenger, recounting that the Goat was harder!
Next stop – the highest point of the route up the Cheviot; the first section of climb was steep, technical, and rather moist!
The rain had eased but with increasing elevation and dropping temperatures a return to a flagged path became much slippier so this became mostly a walk. I was tiring, weakened, and started to get dizzy spells from tiredness and reduced frequency of eating from being to engrossed in the technical terrain – this is a lesson I’ll take to the Arc, the priority is food over maintaining pace.
Russ pressed well ahead as I took on the cheesy puffs and snack bars, I quickly recovered and caught him after the decent to the next safety marshal where he was taking a brief rest.
The marshal advised we buddy up, indicating the next section was going to be hard going and difficult to navigate – can it really be that bad, harder than what we’d completed? yes, it was.
Somewhat indescribable, the next 10 miles of night-time hills were almost entirely flooded peat bogs, with zig-zag route finding becoming mentally tiring, scrambling up and down 6 foot trenches, traversing along fences, holding on to avoid falling into the unknown depths of the black water below. I’d avoided submerging deeper than knee height, but I’d had enough, this was the hell i’d read and heard tale of!
Taking it in turns with Russ to find the easiest route, with much backtracking this section took an age to complete even with the absence of rain pace was down to 30-45 mins/mile, it makes Bleaklow look like a sunday afternoon stroll.
With no choice but to grind out the miles finally the bogs subsided, transitioning into some technical rocky descents and the joy of runnable wet fields; it was all downhill mud from now on (apart from some minor bits of up, negotiating electric and barbed wire fences and some more bits of bog).
So that was it, the last section was on road before a short woodland trail; carrying the polish sisters it was a slow jog to the finish to be met by the RD shaking the hand of every finisher (he had a long day) and welcomed by a brief round of applause from the few competitors still recovering in the cafe at 1 a.m. and some soup.
Another life memory in the bag and a visit to a new part of the UK. Was it the hardest race I’ve done – yes; not the furthest, or the longest time on feet, but the mental battle with underfoot conditions puts it up there in my top 3 ultras along with TP100 and UTS50.

Next up is Arc of Attrition, with a 50% drop-out rate, I hope the Goat has been good enough training to avoid becoming another statistic; but I’ll see what happens…. watch this space! ?

Some final stats for those that like that sort of thing:
– pork pies 1 (family size) : gels 0
– entries 250 : starters 180 : finishers 154
– number 2’s = 0
– number 1’s = lost count
– shoes 2
– socks 4
– wrong directions 5
– cow attacks 0
– hallucinations 3 (big balls of moss looking like sheep rolling toward me, why haven’t they got any legs?!)
– winner 9:30 hrs (it’s easier in daylight if you’re quick enough)
– my time 18:30 hrs, 112 out of 140 men (better than my target of 20 hrs ? )

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Noth Midlands XC – Markeaton – Saturday 13/10/2018

North Midlands XC – Markeaton – 13/10/2018

After the summer break our Cross-Country Championship races return with the first race being at Markeaton in the highly competitive North Midlands League.

As a relatively small club we do struggle with getting members interested in Cross County but luckily the weather had been good to us so we managed to persuade a few new faces to give it a try. Regrettably I was not able to participate due to injury but as the reigning Male Cross Country Champion I would have liked to have been in it so took the opportunity to take some photos instead.

The course is, of course, quite tough and very different for those used to road running. Cross Country is not everyone’s cup of tea but everyone should give it a go to see how tough it can be and also how rewarding it feels at the end :)

The weather on the day was perfect and the ground firm but, honestly, it is much more fun when it is muddy – having the right footwear and picking off people in muddy conditions makes you feel really good :)

So the course is 2 laps for the ladies (6k) and 3 laps for the gents (10K) (booooooo…). As it is such a competitive league, for the men, managing to not get lapped before the end of your 2nd lap is quite an achievement :O

Overall, brilliant day and a great Turnout for the club with 8 gents and 3 ladies. Regrettably Chris H only managed 2 laps before having to pull out at the start of the third – still got photos of you tho Chris H :O

Of course, after getting changed the day has to finish off with a trip to the Jonty Farmer for a celebratory drink (True SRC style)

Results

Spray 41.26
Chris M 43.25
Jason 43.58
George 44.43
Zak 45.17
Brendan 49.09
Steve C 50.29
Chris H DNF
Fiona H 32.15
Jules 37.47
Alyson 39.15

Pictures

Plenty taken and hopefully I’ve posted the best (apart from the blurry finish one of George!)

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RR Harriers Piggs Trophy 10K Wednesday 01/08/2018

The Piggs trophy race is run on the 1st Wednesday of August every year.

Wednesdays are our club night so this is an opportunity for club members to use the time to get involved in a race and explore some other parts of Derby rather than running one of our normal summer routes. This means that we do get quite a club presence at a race which is very good and we do include the race on the Road Racing Championship.

So 16 club members running, Me taking photos (as injured) and George, Brendan and Trev H spectating.

The course started in a slightly different place this year, I did hope to get a group photo before the start but this was not possible as I realised too late. The reason for the change of the start was due to stop the route from being too short, road changes which have been put in place meant that the first bend made the route shorter, hence, the change of the start position.

This is a nice country lane route apart from at 6K when you turn onto the cycle path back to Mickleover which is very slightly uphill and a long, long, long drag to the finish. For once I was glad not to do this as I hate the section from 6K….

Anyway, saw them all start, took a couple of photos, went to the pub for a pint and then got back to the finish just in time to see everyone finishing – happy days.

Results:

Name Position Time
Dean 11 39.00
Jason 24 41:31
Matt O 37 42.55
Rob 41 43.37
Caroline 68 46.40
Simon 87 47:40
Matt H 92 48.16
Fiona H 93 48.18
Chris M 94 48.19
Fiona F 98 48.49
Becky 103 49.36
Rich S 106 49.42
Paul S 116 50.41
Chris H 147 56.40
Julie M 160 1.00.11
Andrea 161 1.00.12

Noticeably it was quite interesting after the race. We were all waiting around for the results but there was a distinct lack of support from most of the other clubs!

Big ‘heads up’ to Dean who got a prize for the 2nd MV40 place and Caroline who got a prize for the 2nd FV40 place.

Pictures

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8 Deano

9 Jas

10 Matt O

11 Rob L

12 Caz

13 Simon B

14 F H, CM + M H

15 Fiona F

16 Beccy + R Sims

17 Paul S

18 Jo

19 Chris

20 Andrea and Julie M

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Charity Cheque Presentation 4/7/2018

Sinfin Running Club proudly presented a cheque to a representative from the Air Ambulance Service on Wednesday the 4th of July.

We always donate a contribution of the funds that we raise from our Sinfin Classic 10K race and again chose the Air Ambulance Service as our charity of choice.

We are always happy to support the Air Ambulance as they do not receive any government funding and rely purely on donations to fund their activities.

For more information about the Air Ambulance please see the below link

https://theairambulanceservice.org.uk/

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London Marathon 22/04/2018

London Marathon 22/04/2018

After all that training the big day arrives.

This is the pinnacle of the year for most of our runners and an event that those running and those going down to support relish.

However, this year it turned out to be the hottest London Marathon at 23.2C. This then makes an already physical and demanding test of endurance even more difficult. Very hot conditions mean that pushing for good times is no longer an option and just getting to the end of the race becomes the main goal.

Results

Dean Bethell 3.31.02
James Spray 3.40.54
Clare Harrison 3.47.55
Fiona Hawkins 4.22.47
Alyson Woodcock 4.49.21
Helen Ripley 5.04.33

Well done to all who participated – we salute you…

Photos

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Liverpool Half Marathon 25/03/2018 (Part of Potters Stag Weekend)

Liverpool Half Marathon 25/03/2018 (Part of Potters Stag Weekend)

As a club we like to celebrate those that are about to ‘sign up’ for married life with a BIG send off so the combination of a run and a weekend away was too good to resist for some of our club members.

After months of planning the weekend was there which basically involved drinking on the Saturday before running a Half Marathon with a hangover the day after and then celebrating running a half marathon with an afternoon/evening of drinking.  Those staying on the Sunday night then have a few more beers before returning home.

As regards to the race – the half marathon times were as shocking as the hangovers but the boys did manage to find a pub at 10miles to get a swift pint in.

Everyone had a fabulous time and the boys have commented that pubs in Liverpool were amazing and the Liverpool people were brilliant. Everyone loved the outfits and made our group of guys very welcome – a big thumbs up to Liverpool – quality city and quality people.

Big shout out to…….

Potter – he loved it (as he wood)

Jason – who made the weekend but not the race itself.

Overall

Liverpool – highly recommended by all as a fun city to visit.

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National Cross-Country Championships – Parliament Hill – London – Saturday 24th February 2018

National Cross-Country Championships – Parliament Hill – London – Saturday 24th February 2018

Every year, in February, the National Cross-Country Championships return. This is an event open to first claim members of Clubs affiliated to England Athletics. This is everyone’s opportunity to run against some of the best cross-country runners in the country – when I say against I mean that you may all set off together but obviously don’t finish anywhere near the really good runners. It is a huge event every year with around 7,500 entrants, over all age groups – kids upwards.

It is a must race for all club members to participate in even if just the once, for the experience – that includes you Potter so don’t be put off by the risk of a little mud!

Chris organised a 49-seater coach for us to get to the event. We did manage to get some additional family and friends on this plus 4 of the Long Eaton entrants. It’s a bit of a shame that we didn’t fill the bus but maybe next time ?

So – we set off at 8.30 and we arrive at 11.30ish. Now bearing in mind that the ladies race doesn’t start till 2.20 this might seem a little early but we do need to make sure we get our coach onto the course for parking ?. Some of the non-running family members then took the opportunity to go to London shopping and the rest of us donned our wellies on and headed off to set up camp. Wellies are a must on a National Cross-Country event……

We found a nice little spot at the top of the hill with a little shelter in the trees. The sun was shining and it felt relatively warn, for the time of year. We didn’t know this at the time but it wasn’t until you ventured down the field that you noticed a brisk cold wind blowing across the course but, hey, you wouldn’t notice that once you were running ?

Plenty of time till the races so we had time to waste so we all have a wander, picked up numbers and returned. A little later we then visited the on-site farmer’s market – just to ensure that we were fully ready and fed for the forthcoming race.

It wasn’t too long before the ladies had to warm up and shortly after they were set on their way around their 8K course. Being at the top of the hill it’s always good to everyone plodding up the steady incline. Runners numbers were, once again up and 1113 ladies finished the race.

After the ladies’ race sets off we start our normal running warm up procedures and then head off to the men’s starting area which gives the spectators the scope to see how big an event this really is. (there were 2328 men finishers!).

The race starts and we head off up the hill – The start is around 150 meters wide but by the top of the hill this has reduced to around 20 meters so funnelling everyone through this is always difficult and gets a little stoppy / starty at times (unless you are at the front). This theme continues is two other narrow places in the first mile of the course but by then things have spread out. The men’s route is a smaller first lap and then two larger laps. This does throw you a little after the first lap as it makes the others seem so large….

Underfoot Conditions

Overall – not too bad. Yes – there was mud in some particular places and some of the course had cambers / bumps and roots to avoid / deal with. With the mud it’s always a case of go through it or round it and I think the course changes that much over 3 laps so you can’t consistently say which is / was the best route to take. The mud has been a lot worse in previous years so quite good that it wasn’t so bad.

Results

Helen Ripley 8K 48.00
Jules Heithus 8K 51.13
Andrea Talbot 8K 53.22
Chris Morrison 12K 57.43
James Spray 12K 1.00.07
Dean Bethell 12K 1.00.07
Brendan Devlin 12K 1.02.21
Jon Evans 12K 1.03.05
Brian Warner 12K 1.04.19
Simon Bray 12K 1.06.14
Paul Wood 12K 1.07.53

After the race everyone freshens up – no showering as we don’t want to lose drinking time and then we head back to the bus to for a night in Camden Town, those not with us meet us there.

We then spend the evening drinking and getting merry. Some head off to get food before returning to finish drinking and then we get back on the bus for our trip home at 8.30.

We arrive back in Derby at around 10.30 and make our way home (Yes Spray – ignore the time on the bus as it was an hour fast) in the very cold… Others of course head to the Bridge Inn to have some more beer (now that they realise that they have not missed last orders) ? …

Pictures

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Charity Cheque Presentation

On Wednesday the 7th of February we presented a cheque of £300 to a representative of the Air Ambulance Service. This was our charity contribution from funds raised at our 2017 Sinfin Classic 10K Race

We are always happy to support the Air Ambulance as they do not receive any government funding and rely purely on donations to fund their activities.

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Sinfin Running Club Dinner / Dance / Presentation Evening 20/01/2018

Sinfin Running Club Dinner / Dance / Presentation Evening 20/01/2018

Time once again to celebrate our achievements throughout 2017.

The format is quite simple – we gather for a meal, start getting drunk, give out awards and then get more drunk (at the later stages most are so drunk that they dance – well that’s apparently what it is called).

We returned again this year to the Farmhouse Near Mackworth, where we have our ‘do’ in the Folly – which is downstairs and out of the way of the other drinkers (presume they know that we can get quite rowdy!)

Pre-drinks upstairs begin at 7pm – well we call it pre-drinks but I got there around 7.15 so gave up the ghost queuing for drinks till we could get to our own bar.
We wander downstairs at 7.30 and it’s brilliant – our own bar – time to get a well-earned drink in…

We are seated at 7.45 ready to eat. I say seated – think they had to ask us three times before most were seated – us runners – so much to discuss..

It’s a three-course menu so tables are served one by one but we don’t have to wait too long for the next course until we’ve finally had our bellies filled. Must say – the apple crumble was a bit overly crumble and with ice cream it was a little hard to eat.

After we’ve all finished and had another beer it’s awards time at around 9.30.

Results

I did get some photos but due to an initial camera error missed some of the initial pictures….

Male Cross-Country Champion

  • 1st Brian Warner
  • 2nd Brendan Devlin
  • 3rd Chris Morrison

(From the races ran so far it looks like Brian won’t be retaining this trophy next year)

Female Cross-Country Champion

  • 1st Caroline Scott
  • 2nd Helen Ripley
  • 3rd Clare Harrison

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Male Road Running Champion

  • 1st Jason Ball
  • 2nd Brian Warner
  • 3rd Brendan Devlin

(Brendan would’ve been up to 2nd but the last 2017 race was called off due to the weather)

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Female Road Running Champion

  • 1st Sharon Collins
  • 2nd Clare Harrison
  • 3rd Fiona Finnegan

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Fell Running Champion

  • 1st Caroline Scott
  • 2nd Trevor Hibbert
  • 3rd Paul Stevenson

(Brian was in 4th place and only just behind Paul)

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Best Female Performance

  • Sharon Collins

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Best Male Performance

  • Chris Morrison

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Club Person of the Year

  • Sharon Collins

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Special notes of thanks to:

Clare, for organising the event

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Mick George for all he does for the club and to also mention that her celebrated his 75th birthday over Christmas.

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With the awards and speech’s over it was back to the drinking and then onto the dancing.

Photo opportunity of the night –

Someone managed to bust Clare’s bottle of red wine but we did make the most of it before the staff managed to quite successfully clear up the mess..

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Award for the best dancing goes to Jim. The video is a classic – even Shazza has gotta be impressed with the one.. Although to be fair the later ones of Rex and Jon are pretty good…

Starting to flag I eventually left at around 11.30 – had to get back to the hotel where I had left Julie with the flu. She would have loved to have been there but was too ill to make it. Missed a treat of a night ?

I’m not sure what everyone else did but do know that some ended up in town. Dunno how – I’m sure most people were much the worse for wear when I left.

Interesting drive home in the morning in the snow – couldn’t believe how much of it was on the roads. Good news now is that is that it was mostly gone by the end of the day.

Happy days, happy hang overs…

Other pics:

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Furnace Inn Race 26/12/2017

Boxing day 2017 saw the return of the Furnace Inn Race.

This is an annual race organised by Shelton Striders with the proceeds going to charity. For SRC this proves to be a popular fun race, especially after pigging out all day the day before, and ideal so you can have a sneaky pint afterwards. Fancy dress is not compulsory but some do participate :)

The route this year was a little different due to the flood defence work going on near the pub. It started with an extra sneaky climb from the pub before running through the mud of Darley Park and then around the standard course and eventually back down the route you started from. I clocked at 3.31 miles rather than the usual 2.75 miles course.

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Results:

Name Position Time
Rob Lane 25th 22.27
Trevor Hibbert 33rd 23.14
Brian Warner 42nd 24.12
Caroline Scott 68th 26.08
Sharon Collins 120th 30.31
Graham Young 121st 30.32
Michael Collins 122nd 30.36
Helen Ripley 123rd 30.36
Fiona Finnegan 125th 30.38
Paul Stevenson 127th 30.39
Ivy Sunday 135th 31.01
Julie Heithus 151st 31.57
Julie Muggleton 156th 32.09
Joanne Allenton 157th 32.11
Barry Boole 192nd 34.37
Neil Barnes 193rd 34.47
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