Weekly Update: Burning wicker men and sacrificing virgins. That’s Ripon for you…

Afternoon all!


As I finished the Evening League on Thursday, I was having a chat with Andy Robinson from the Striders as we hung around the finish line.

“We very much enjoy your write ups”, he said.

“Beg your pardon?”, I replied, sweating copiously and trying not to cough up blood.

“Your write ups. Every Sunday or Monday, on the website”

“Oh right, that’s not at all weird.” I reached for my second bottle of water. “Do you like them?”

“Oh very much so”, he replied, “We all do.” He leaned in and nodded sagely, emphasising his point.


“Oh yes.”


It’s an endearing thought isn’t it? All of them huddled round the computer in Striders Towers, anxiously awaiting the latest dispatch from their ever-loving rivals. So spare a thought for them. It must be hard for them looking but a few miles away to see the floodlight glory of Nidd Valley House, the black and gold flags gently blowing in the breeze, the impressively landscaped gardens, the bed race beds all polished and parked up on the sweeping gravel drive, and the whole place all awash with lots of activity and even more excitement.

The floodlit glory of Nidd Valley House

The floodlit glory of Nidd Valley House…

And of the subject of the lovely Striders (and hello to those of them reading!), let’s take a peek at a few results.



And where better to start with the Evening League at Thirsk. The fourth in the competition counter, everyone was eager for those last points and keenly eying up their rivals before we line up for the handicap at Ripon. Let’s start with the big news: of the thirteen teams competing, Team Nidd came fourth, beaten only by Harriers, Wetherby and Ripon. One shouldn’t boast, but we beat Knaresborough Striders with a decisive 851.74 to 774.24 –someone tell me that it is the Mob Match soon, please! – and we beat Otley by 0.57 of a point! I hope that, if you think that your contribution doesn’t count or that you’re not fast enough, this makes you think again.

Same line up. Different field.

Same line up. Different field.

Tim Harvey (28:50) took 12th place overall in an eye-wateringly speedy finish, hunted down on each turn of the agricultural course by Warren Lowcock (29:34) and Martin Lofthouse (30:49). Andy Todd (31:12) was never far from contention, while Alan Davidson (32:04) just pipped the Harriers’ Adam Prentiss to the line. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you that, a few hours before the race, I bumped into Alex Patrickson in Harrogate as he sauntered out of a pub having drank three pints of cider in front of the football. It’s a wonder he (32:49) could find the start line, let alone the finish line, if we’re being honest. I’m assuming Matt Rickard (33:08) was sober when he laced up his running shoes, fighting to hold Dan Eagling (33:20) and Carol Morgan (33:48) at bay. Adam Kirk (34:03) and Jon Easton (35:02) both felt decidedly off-form, given they were recovering from a severe case post Bed Race Nidditis, but found sufficient in the tank to steal a few places ahead of Simon Franklin (35:03), whereas I (35:11) had been haemorrhaging places all along the course – Nidditis, again – and was dying a bloody death by the time the finish line appeared.

Say what you like, this isn't the facial expression of a well man...

Say what you like, this isn’t the facial expression of a well man…

John Mitton (36:00), Ian McLeod (37:27) and Jim Cook (37:28) kept the good times rolling for Team Nidd. Alison Iles (38:09) was the second Nidd Lady (Niddette?) to finish the repetitive course, with Paul Manning (38:13), Fell Running Phil (38:22), Dave Seaman (39:05), Mark Armstrong (39:36) and Sarah Hughan (39:40) joining her and their brethren at the finish. We couldn’t not mention a cracking performance from Moira McTague (40:14), we’ll sing the praises of Jenny Manning (41:06), and we’ll give a big whoop whoop for Debbie Gibson (41:51) – three more brilliant results for the ladies. Catherine Barber (42:49), Rachael Prince (42:40), Nick Smith (43:37) and Neil Wright (44:16) all point in brilliant performances for the team, whereas Ewa Scott (45:33) had such a strong finish that you wouldn’t fancy the chances of anyone who got in her way when she was moving at that speed. Ladies Captain Michelle Smith (46:24) and Sarah “I don’t know why I bother because I don’t even like running” Chalmers (46:24) were both looking very relaxed as they turned for the finish line, soon to be joined by Jane Hill (47:16).


Clearly ready for a buffet, people then glanced around and asked if everyone was back, but someone gravely announced that Michelle Dinsdale was “still out there”, making it sound like she was the lone fighter pilot in the skies, singlehandedly holding back repeat enemy attacks. Eyes settled on the top of the road as silently willed our comrade home. No one dared speak. Well, bugger me. When she appeared, you’d have thought it was the Mardi Gras. Team Nidd erupted in a festival of whoops and cheers as Michelle chased down her Wetherby opponent. I wouldn’t have been surprised if I heard bells ringing and saw fireworks light up the sky. The cheers rose to a deafening crescendo as Michelle turned round by the bridge, put on a sprint finish, overtook the young upstart in the orange vest and pushed for home to clinch the win. If there is a better way to bring the curtain down on the last race before the handicap, then I’m yet to see it. Well done to Michelle, and well done to you all!


It’s always nice when you see a Captain leading from the front, so it was great to see Michelle Smith (58:02) at the front of the pack for Nidd Valley in the Hull 10k earlier today, followed by Jane Hill (1:02:23) and Michelle Dinsdale (1:03:17 – PB!). Well done, ladies!

Watching their backs in Hull...

Watching their backs in Hull…

Normally someone covered in mud, cow poo and sweat couldn’t persuade me to climb out of a burning car, much less run up and down a yarking great big hill, but there is something quite compelling about fell running. Whatever it is, it was compelling enough to get a host of Nidds up to race the seven mile Settle Hills Fell Race earlier today. Tim Harvey (58:01) and Alan Davidson (1:08:21) led the troops home, and I feel I should mention Nick Iles (1:18:50) even though he didn’t renew his subs (hard to believe, I know). Fell Running Phil (1:20:23), Ian McLeod (1:21:01), Brian Sherwood (1:22:15) and two the Daves, Prince (1:24:54) and Seaman (1:28:33), all came home within very short space of one another. Then it was a big celebration for Catherine Barber (1:30:45), before Debbie Gibson (1:37:25) made her fell running debut and clinched 1st FV50 position. I think we have a convert. Last, but by no means least, we’ve got brilliant results from Racahel Prince (1:42:09) and Sarah Chalmers (1:47:46). Cracking efforts, there.


Staying in t’fells, belated results are in from the Kettlewell Anniversary Race, held earlier in June. Paragons of off-road running Mark David (54:57) and Fell Running Phil (58:40) made beautiful work on the 8k course and soon tamed the 1,800ft of climb. A heartfelt, muddy congratulations, chaps.


You’ve got to be up with cock (as it were) to be at the parkrun start line for 9am, but there were plenty of Nidds out in force this week, all eagerly working to get their times down. We’ll start with the big achievement of the parkrun week, which is Fingers Harris (19:26) taking the first place overall on the Dalby Forest course, joined by Matt Rickard (20:03) who took fifth position. They’re great results from two of my favourite people on Planet Earth – well done!


Neil Wright was out to play in Northallerton (27:58) where he made easy work of the parkrun course up there. Over at Fountains, it was a quiet affair for the Nidds as Andy Todd (19:21) and Fiona Robinson (31:06) made their way round the reverse course. Apparently they had done the course in reverse as a way to mark the summer solstice. Don’t ask me why but, this being Ripon, very little surprises me. Next week they’ll be celebrating some other annual astrological event by sacrificing a handful of young virgins no doubt. Strange people.


Let’s leave the burning wicker men of Ripon firmly behind us and turn our attention to the normality of Harrogate. Men’s Captain Martin Lofthouse (18:43) was first to pop his cheery little face over the finish line, joined by Jim Cook (22:42) and Sue Simpson (23:22). Sarah Hughan (24:05) wasn’t messing around with a time like that, but had a fight on her hands to keep Moira McTague (24:13) off her back. Hannah Peagram (25:04) was next to finish, while Junior Evie Iles (26:32) showed her mum Alison (26:40) how it is done.


This is worrying. I know you’ll be unsurprised if I tell you that Plippy Moorse was back on her bike and took part in 71 mile race from Wetherby to Filey yesterday, but she was joined by boyfriend Matt in the ridiculous lycra-clad challenge. To think that she is on the committee, and now she is leading members of this club away on this ill-fated pedal-based jaunts. It’s like athletic radicalisation. Something must be done.


Ah, people ask me questions, lost in confusion. Well, I tell them there’s no problem, only solutions. Well, they shake their heads and they look at me, as if I’ve lost my mind. Tell them there’s no hurry, I’m just sitting here doing time: chair@niddvalleyroadrunners.co.uk.


The Week Ahead

Go on, why not? Let’s have a trip down the Gorge on Tuesday. It’ll put a smile of Dave’s face, if nothing else (to be fair, it doesn’t take much, give him a pint of ale and a bag of beefy in the bar and he’s chipper enough). You know the drill, kids: meet at the Hockey Club and be ready to run for 7pm. It’s up the cycle track, down into the Gorge, and running as far as you like before you either get to Knaresborough or get bored and turn for home.


Thursday marks our annual club run up Almscliffe Crag, and if you keep reading you’ll find all the relevant details below. Don’t miss it.


Well, bugger me. The club championships just keep on coming. On Sunday we are off to race the Staveley Stampede. It’s a wonderful 10k race, not too far from home, and well worth it at only £10. Will Men’s Captain Martin defend last year’s impressive third place? Will he beat it? Or will some new upstart pip him to the line? You’ll have to be there to find out: http://www.staveley-yorks.org.uk/php/content.php?P=Staveley%20Stampede&M=o.


At the weekend, Emma David (yeah, that’s the one, stands there with her hand in her pockets and shouts encouraging things while you round the block in the driving rain during intervals) will be attempting the Bob Graham Round in the Lake District. Everyone here at Nidd Valley House will be rooting for her (and some of us running with her, the poor thing). Keep an eye on Facebook for updates as she undertakes that ultimate challenge in English Fell Running. Come on, Emma, we’re all behind you!


Almscliffe crag Run: 23 June 2016

The run is from Huby Village, up the Crag (quick photo op), then back down the tracks and fields towards Pannal, through Crimple Valley and back to the club for a well-earned pint or seven. We’ll meet at Weeton Station (yeah I know, Huby Village… Weeton Station… go figure) and will be ready to run for 7pm. There is a train that arrives in Weeton at 18:56, leaving Harrogate at 18:43 (it also leaves Starbeck at 18:37 and Knaresborough at 18:34 if you want to join in earlier). We’ll have different paced groups running, so don’t worry if it seems a bit daunting, no one will be left behind and there are plenty of chances to jump back on a train at Hornbeam Park or Pannal if you’ve had enough. There will be – and when isn’t there? – pints in the bar at the Hockey Club afterwards.


Mob Match: 17 July 2016

Mark my words, this trophy is coming home. It is so coming home. You need to be there to make sure it happens – each and every one of you (including you!) – so please get online and get yourself a number: http://www.burtonleonard10k.co.uk/enter-2016.html. There are no entries on the day. Remember that, if you race, Treasurer Dave will refund your entry fee for you. This race means that much to me. That trophy means that much to me. You mean that much to me. Get on it, people, get on it.


As an aside, I’ve been having a bit of a chat with those nice chaps at the Striders and we think it might be good to go out for a pint in the afternoon after the race so that we can strip them of their ill-gotten trophy and return to its rightful place in Nidd Valley House. It’ll probably be a mid-afternoon thing, once people have been able to go home, shower and feed, that kind of thing. If you’d like to come or have a suggestion for a choice of pub, then please let me know: chair@niddvalleyroadrunners.co.uk.


Goodbye Amanda

Amanda Metcalfe is standing down as Chair of Nidd Valley Juniors after many welcome years at the helm, steering and encouraging the little people to many an athletic achievement. I’m working with Amanda and the Junior Committee to work out where we go from here and make sure that we can continue to provide top quality coaching for all the young people who attend. But for now, I just wanted to put on the record my thanks to Amanda for all she has done. The club owes her a tremendous debt. Cheers, Amanda!



Secretary Sarah H has decided that the website could use a bit of a refresher picture-wise, so if you have any cracking snaps, a good shot of you looking particularly athletic, or perhaps just some tasteful black and white nudes you have been longing to share, then please send them Sarah’s way: enquiries@niddvalleyroadrunners.co.uk.


Word to the Wise

Debbie Gibson – purveyor of banana-based snacks, excessive packing, and the finest banter that make the longest motorway journeys just fly by – also does a fine little line in wise words. And here, just for you, is her reflection on fell running as she completed the steepest descent on her backside:


“Road running is shit compared to that” – Debbie Gibson, in breviloquent mood.


I’m told that she could be heard for miles around. I need say no more. Have a great week, people, and I look forward to seeing you soon.


Sam x


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