the gaybar chronicles

the gaybar chronicles
gaybar gaybar

Tuesday, 26 August 2014


Well that's the show over with for another year and with it the 2nd running of the new show race.
We kept the same route as last year,5 mile's for the seniors and 3 for the juniors. The difference was this year i didn't have the sleepless nights on the run up as i knew the commitee lead by Rachel and Neil and the race sponsor Davie Bertram fencing would sort out any problems,even with a family bereavement on the run up to the show they made my life very easy,cheers.
I was there on Sunday morning with Davie putting up the tent and flag while Adam came along later to mark the coarse. I was lucky to spot a Raven as we marked it but less fortunate to witness Fletchers impression of a Raven,it was more like a constipated raven with the flu! Lilburn estates where as good as they're word and the cattle had been shifted,it was all systems go.
I ran it at 6 in the morning and the coarse was near perfect for a fast race. Home for brecky then back for 9 and waited for the hordes to arrive(i said hordes). Slow to start but after a while they started coming.
Friends and complete strangers ,50 runners in all. Not many local or my club runners but 1 thing iv'e reallised is if people don't want to race nothing will change there mind.  I don't suppose many more would have turned up had it been an Alnwick GP race but it would have been nice to find out and it would have been even better if they didn't pick a race the day after to be 1 but didn't really expect much else.
The lads turned up though and i bet the farmer who had the champion bull was pleased it had been picked before Stevie sauntered in with his team GB tracksuit on.
Morpeth Harrier Carl Avery lead from the start and finished 20 seconds behind a certain Nick Swinburns winning time last year. What an effort!The lads got the world at his feet and whatever way he goes hes gonna be a winner,i just hope he doesn't take up fell racing . 2nd was Colin Donnely who won the Falstone Falcon on Saturday and top bloke Andy Blackett (DFR) the reigning NE Fell Running Champion 3rd.
Clare Mckitrick (Charnwood)won the ladies with a great time of 38.08 with Alnwicks very own Suzie Barwise Munro 2nd,Suzie did great for a first fell race after traveling the world competing in Tetrathlons,Phillipa Chambers was back again this year to finish 3rd,well done ladies.
The vets prizes went to 2 of the scenes most popular runners,Marie Drozdowicz and Bernard Kivlehan.
Now the bit ive been dreading-the juniors. I'm not gonna white wash it,i ballsed it up. I should have had signs turning the juniors back but decided (wrongly ) against it. Juniors that where leading and another went up part of the seniors route.I can only appologise and it makes it even harder as 2 of them are local kids i know well. Be that as it may the races where won by very deserving lads who after a bit of luck for them went on to finish the job. Tom Whelan and Tara Hawforth finished 1st and 2nd with James Ritchie who was 1 of the lads who went a bit further 3rd. The under 13s was won by the other brother Whelan (surely the only double Sunderland will do this year) Joe,Henry White 2nd with Callie Henderson 3rd,Callie did great to get back into contention after also going with the seniors. Again i appologise to young Jordan Hedgecock who was leading till my oversight spoiled it for him.
Big thanks to everybody iv'e mentioned already as well as Glenn (my public speaker)Pat,Ian,John,Mary,Alan,the Crombies,WRC with Helen and Ian Cowans taking hundreds of photos.
By spitting the dummy with Alnwick and not getting a lend of signs,arrows etc and having to make my own i think you'll all agree-i really showed them!
Also big up the runners coming from NSP Heaton Tynebridge and NFR to name but a few,who came to the back of beyond to do a wee fell race,cheers

Wednesday, 9 July 2014


Early in the year i decided i was going to do less on the roads and more on the fells with The Chevy Chase being my main aim. When i say main aim i mean i wanted a PB and to retain my local and v40 title.
Missing out on the road races hasn't been a problem as i picked up a nerve injury on the bottom of my foot which meant running at speed (well my speed )on the road was painful.So training consisted of the Chevy route broke down in sections with the odd cross country thrown in.The Harrier League is fantastic training for any goal and i take advantage of them.
I did the complete route in a 3.11 PB about 7 weeks before the real deal,that and a couple of wins at Hedgehope and Windy Gyle had me dreaming i could actually win and i was convinced i could go under 3 hours.Nothing like putting pressure on yourself. I'm like a coiled spring the week leading up to the race at the best of times but with genuine hopes i was worse than ever.
A nightmare to live with and work with, i was having sleepless nights and spent most of the time daydreaming about the race,every conceivable outcome was ran in my head so the morning of the race couldn't come quick enough.
Fletcher came to mine and we went up to see the walkers off ,we met in with Glenn, Shep,Simmo and Phil and we headed down to get registered.The craic was good but i was nervous.Adam tried in vain to get me to calm down.I did a quick interview for a podcast Leanda had signed me up for,you know me i hate the lime light so it was a real chore.

Then after the briefing,we where off.I had noticed a few faces that were gonna be contenders but was pleased to see a few missing that had there names down.Ian Harding was running but without a number-phew!
The pace early on was slow which suited me,my plan was to waste as little energy on the way to Hedgehope then have plenty in the tank for what is probably the easiest 10 miles you will get in a fell race back in.John Butters and me where in front with a chasing pack that included Fletch and Gary from NSP. Past Broadstruther and Cheviot Knee John started building a decent lead.I wouldn't say i was happy but knew there was plenty time so wasn't panicking-yet.
I did panic however when my bum bag broke going up Cheviot.Trying to get a gel out the zip came off in my hand,i spent minutes walking trying to get gel out with 1 hand as the other had a bottle of water in it.just as i had it sorted i got cramp so it was back in the bag for a salt stick,this disrupted my spare kit,i managed to get a pin from my number and pin it shut .It was a relief to get to the top and be able to start running,the salt sticks started working after a while ,in no time i was at the bottom,relieved John wasn't far didn't last long though and as i filled a bottle of water he was off and i couldn't pick up his line,he seemed to be merrily skipping along a new tarmac road as i waded through 6 foot high bracken.
When i eventually got to the top of Hedgehope John was long gone,again i was ok,i was up there at amazingly the time i wanted to be so i felt good.i had good pace going to Langlee crag,in the distance i could see John take a straighter route to the road so was able to make some time up cutting a corner.We arrived at Carey Burn Bridge together,Leanda and her dad along with a few friendly faces gave me a boost and after a drink i was off.I took the opportunity to get a gel down me on a horrible little climb ,i swear its only 10 yards but its a killer,up over the top and i went for it,it's not great to run on,sharp stones,jaggy gorse bushes but i sensed i had to go for it.I walk/ran up Hellspath and managed a bit speed down to the ponds where my sister ,family and a mate from footy cheered me on.As i hit the road though every bit of energy seemed to leave my body,i had nothing,surely i couldn't lose it here a mile from the end.i have ran along this road hundreds of times and always dreamed i would be in this position and now it was happening for real,i picked it up again.

Coming down into Wooler i knew i was almost there,a few people cheered me down the track to the Hostel then when i ran past a gap in the hedge the most deafening noise hit me, it was mostly from my sister,i have grown up with that voice  but never before have i wanted to hear it as much as now.
  I crossed the line in 3 05 41 ,not under 3 as i had wanted but i had won!it was the greatest feeling i've ever had or will have in running.
John came in shortly after ,what a top bloke and great runner,he's beaten me loads and i've managed to get him here but  and he's always the same,a real class act.
  Fletch was in before i knew it,a big man hug from the guy who blanked me at Powburn fell race a few years back but has turned into my best mate,i could tell he was as happy for me as i was.After a shower it was all about what makes the Chevy the event of the year,and Wooler Running Club must take all the plaudits for this. Sitting around having a laugh with other runners,it doesn't matter if you're 1st or 101st you've just ran 20 miles in the hills and everybody's got a story to tell.
Big ups to my family for putting up with me,the only time i opened my mouth last week was to shout at 1 of the kids.Also all the other runners ,i cant name check them all but i got messages from lads i look up to and respect,getting praise from them means a lot.And also Alnwick Harriers who put up with my bitching and moaning and have provided me with a coach that turned me into the winner of the Chevy Chase.Cheers Geoff.

Friday, 30 August 2013


This was to be my first go of organising a fell race. And i must say i think i've already cracked it,the key to putting on a race is simple-get a committee and land owner that are 100% behind it,a couple of local folk to stick in prize money and a team of helpers with loads of experience,then you just let them get on with it and turn up on the day and look busy.
It's been over ten years since there was a race at the show so we had no idea what to expect. I've noticed that generally the show race numbers have been down  so i was a little apprehensive especially after flogging it to death on websites(thanks Rob)and getting write ups in the papers.The last thing i wanted was a low turnout and a bit of a letdown.
I had no need to worry as over 60 seniors and juniors turned up, which is more than i hoped for.
The race was a simple out and back, the first mile was fairly flat, nice running on grass, the next half mile was a steady climb up a farm track, then as the juniors turned and went back the way they had came the seniors were out onto the open fell, making for a giant ST Georges Cross flag (not my choice) at the top of Brands Hill.
With it being a very runnable,fast race i knew the climb up Brands would catch a few people out but the view from the top looking onto the show field (and surrounding wind farm)would be worth it.Coming down Brands is  one of the best bits of the Chevvy Chase in my opinion so i knew the runners would find it enjoyable.
Nick Swinburn(NFR) led from early on and won the race by a couple of minutes,i think Darrell Hastie and Phil Sanderson(Elswick) had a good race with both leading at one stage or another only for Hastie to take second and Phil third.Nicola Roper(Heaton RC) was first lady,beating Wooler running clubs Henrietta Bolton Carter by almost 2 minutes,Shelly Barton was third,beating the up and coming Alison Brown by a few seconds.
I have to say that it was a really strong field with some recognisable faces from the fell and road scene.
Junior winners where Jarod Lewis and Philippa Chambers (13-15)and William Dixon and Callie Henderson(10-12.
Highlights for me was watching local lad(1 to watch)Jarod Lewis fearlessly lead out Nick Swinburn for the first few hundred yards! Also big up to Nina Cameron for doing the Falstone / Glendale double.
Thanks to everyone who helped do my job for me on the day, Glenn,Adam,Harry,the marshals and time keepers,see you all next year.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Les Alcorn 10k

It may seem a little self indulgent writing a blog on a 10k but hey, self indulgent are my middle names.
I seem to have been injured or recovering from injury for ages now and it's been made worse with friends going off and doing big race's i should have been doing(and doing them very well).So i was a bit apprehensive about what would be my first race in 6 months,being that i had done well(for me)in it last year.
There had been a couple of hill races that maybe i could have taken part in but for 1 reason or another i hadn't.
1 of those reasons was my nephew Daniel who 2 months ago suffered a massive brain trauma and at the weekend when the Cheviot summit race was on he was being allowed home for the afternoon for the first time since his accident.I knew i had to be at his side rather than fannying about in the hills and in a way watching what he and his mum have been through and still going through has put everything into perspective.I can hardly greet about not being able to run when i see a young healthy (i wont say fit because he's what i call a "non sporty")lad almost taken away from us and now fighting to get back to the life he had, 1 small step at a time.
Having a vested interest in the kids 3k beforehand helped me take my mind off my race and Brandon,Nathan,Owen and Ben all did great so before i knew it we had to make our way to the starting line.
Leanda was doing the race to so off she went with her running pals while i,well-got ready on my own.
The race starts with a bit of a climb,i don't think it can be described as a hill but in a 10k the merest slope feels like Ben Nevis.I was relatively pleased with where i was but as the ground leveled off  i wasn't seeming to recover as well as i would have liked.
I had decided not to look at my split times for the first few markers ,but ahead i caught a glimpse of a marker,i could just about make out the number 3 on it,great i thought,3miles!But no,as i grew nearer i could see it was the 3 k marker.
I looked at my watch and was keeping up with my 4minute kilometres but still my head went down.I've said it before but i think it's your mental strength that gets you through a race and mine was being severely tested here.I had 2 choices,take it easy and just finish the race or see if i could keep going at a decent pace.I decided to go for it.
A Morpeth Harrier came up along side me and we ran the next 3ks at about 3 and a half minutes each,we got past the water station and he started pulling away from me,i had no answer to it but was happy with my time's and the fact i wasn't getting overtaken so i just kept on going.
As i got to the 9k marker my time was bang on 35 minutes,so i set a goal of under 39.I stepped it up a bit and was making on the lad in front.The marshals along the way and the people cheering as you're getting near the finish line is a great help and i felt good hitting 37 minutes.Just then the lad in front stopped running!i couldn't believe it,he was only 300metres from the finish.I shouted as i passed"come on"and beckoned him to run with me but he could hardly speak so i kept going and finished the race in 6th place in a time of 38.41,taking 2 seconds off last years time.
I looked for the lad that had stopped but couldn't see him,but to have pulled out so late in a race he must have been in a bad way.I felt bad for him,not that bad i was going to stop and carry him to the end, but bad for him all the same.
Plenty support at the end from the "Raes"and even managed a word with the winner who has went even higher in my estimation after he told me he was a Rangers supporter(don't worry Adam,your'e still my hero)
It took Leanda longer than she wanted but for 1 reason or another she hasn't been doing as much as she would have liked,but these things aren't easy and just to finish is a massive achievement  so big up Leezy.
Where to now?Do i up the miles and risk another injury,my calf still feels tight after a longer run and i have a slight problem with my heel,or do i concentrate on this type of shorter faster runs?After crossing the line last night i thought of Daniel and his ongoing problems so-what will be,will be.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010


In my first full year as a runner I've competed in about 20 races. I've been keeping a running diary so every run has been logged. I've ran over 1200 miles but i'm sure that it would of been a fair few more had it not been for a spell of about 6 weeks in the summer when I was running a race every weekend and just ticking over through the week.
It's all about the races for me so here's my top 3 of the year.
In third place is 'The Coastal'. This race is a proper event. I think i'm right in saying it's been voted the best race in Britain before and I can see why! But it's not 3rd because of the scenery and friendly atmosphere, I loved it because it's probably the only race of the year that i've been involved in a proper sprint finish! I overtook a face I recognised from the Morpeth Harriers after about 8 miles and thought I had put distance between us but as I got to the last stretch of beach with another runner I glanced around to see him on my shoulder. The three of us jostled for position, catching up with another Morpeth Harrier we ran the last mile probably quicker than any of the rest. I ended up coming third in the group of four but was happy as I had beaten the bloke I recognised from a previous race. But it was close, had the finish been 10 yards further he probably would have beaten me!
Second place goes to the Les Allcorn 10k. After a couple of 10k's that had not went quite right it all clicked here. The first race I ever did was a 10k in Morpeth but had begun it thinking it was best to take it easy to start with then finish strong. That doesn't work (for me anyway), you can't just fanny about for 4 miles then sprint finish the last two taking out everyone in you way! I ran the Les Allcorn against my watch looking at every kilometre making sure I was under 4 minutes. My goal was to do it in under 40 minutes and I managed to do in well under 39 minutes partly due to a local runner I kept up with from about 3k to the end.
A lot of the races I've done were show races. Me and Glenn would turn up out the back of beyond to take part in a 4 or 5 mile race finishing in the middle of a show field, sometimes cheered(simonside), sometimes ignored(morebattle) but either way great fun!
My favourite race of the year was the Chevy Chase. Through 20 miles of mind games finishing with me running it pretty much exactly how I wanted. I had ran the route three weeks before the event doing a time of 3 1/2 hours and knew I could take 15 minutes off that on a race day. This was always going to be the biggie of the year for me so I set off knowing exactly where I wanted to be.
All went well till I got to the top of Cheviot(not even half way)and felt a twinge of cramp.I ran the next few miles panicing that I would get cramp and all my hard work would be for nothing.Luckily for me a friendly face was at the bottom of Hedghope and she gave me advice on what to do(cheers Alison).
By the time I got to the next checkpoint I still hadn't got the cramp I had been expecting, so I said sod it and picked up my pace.I picked it up even more when I saw Adam Fletcher in the distance.If someone offered me one place behind him at the start of the race I would have took their hand off. So to be catching him with 3 miles to go was great,and gave me the added edge to get to him.
In reality our race within a race lasted about 3 minutes! I caught him up-kept with him up Hells Path-he took away from me,simple as that. I'd like to think I helped him in that race as much as he helped me.
I ended up 8th overall,1st local but the race belonged to John,Cindy and Louise who get a big up because anyone thats finishes a race shattered or shattered with blisters on blisters deserves credit in my book!
The year ended on a downer through injury but i'm hoping i'm over the worst and my goal for the new year is to move from top end also ran (local races, i'm no where on bigger ones) to someone who could actually win a race (well if 3 or 4 of the big boys are missing!!). I'm hoping to do this by training harder and eating healthier, I haven't really changed my diet since I started running. When you look at the people beating me they all look a good bit leaner than me (apart from Adam!). So the half loaf of bread and butter with every meal will have to be cut down to 4 or 5 slices!!
Roll on next year!!!!

Monday, 8 November 2010


A run from the bottom of cheviot to Kielder village was something Karl had been dreaming up for a while,so when the time came i was looking forward to it.The only thing i could see spoiling it was the weather so when i was awoken in the night to the sound of torrential rain on the window the alarm bells started ringing.
I was out the house for 5 past 6 picking up the other 4 runners to make our way to Langleeford,the rain had stopped but it was bitterly cold.
A snow covered Hedgehope came into view as we drove up the road,i could hardly say anything as the absurdity of the whole situation hit me like a lead balloon-i'm going to run 32miles!in the snow!with 4 people,3 of which i would never have even met let alone ran with a couple of years ago.
David and Alison who i did the Lakeland 50 with(managed to shoehorn it in)Sue is a member of the Northumberland fell runners that i've seen at almost every race i've done this year,Karl,i've known since our maxways days 20 years ago( now a parish councilor and along with Rob Murray John is the 1st male member of a pta anywhere in the world) and Adam,a surfer/runner who i've just realised says the last sentence in a broad Leeds/Harrogate accent (chaaarlieh)was accompying us for a bit of the way.
I had my 1st food of the day,a jaffa cake bar and a twix washed down with some fresh orange juice.Looking at what the others were taking i felt massively under prepared,i had a bottle of powerade and 2 energy gels .
We hit the snow half way up Cheviot,getting my feet wet for the 1st time made me realise how cold it was going to be,quick photo op at the summit then we were off,theres not much to say about the run other than we were either on ice covered paving slabs or snow covered boggy ground,neither is great so i'm sure if we had done this run 4 months earlier it would have been far quicker.
I was 1st to go arse over tit,a rather theatrical slip landing on my side in wet peat drew a 9.5 from the judges but by the end of the day i think we'd all went over 1 way or the other.
Running in the wet was taking its toll,constantly having to pull a foot out of the bog or trying to stop yourself slipping is unbelieveably draining.I think that was 1 of the reasons i was a little quiet,apart from a brief chat about Tom Cruise-his best films,how good looking he was in Top Gun etc etc i just left Karl and David to talk about computers and what covered the earth 500 years ago(honest to god they were).
By 18 miles i was beginning to regret not being as prepared as the rest,cold sweat,sore head and stomach cramp told me i needed food,the onion rings (choice of the elite runner)that Leanda would be waiting at the 20 mile mark would be the greatest ever.
A brief 2 mile or so not knowing if the wives would be at Burness due to a road closure and them just being women(joking)were tough but it all worked out ok as we met them on the road.
The coop onion rings were tasting like Marks n Spencers finest,the coke was'nt touching the sides and by the time i had changed my socks and trainers i felt a lot better and the doubts about not finishing had lifted.
Not far into the 12 mile run through Kielder forrest i realised i needed to keep going as chafing and aches were taking over my body but its not the most interesting run i've ever done 1 tree looked like the next and around every corner was another stretch of road with trees either side.It was only when i happened upon a parked car the excitement levels grew.Just as i got up to it a bloke jumped out,oh god i thought,whats he doing.He had something in his hand,a hammer?knife?gun?no it was a camera!he nodded and walked past me.Out the corner of my eye i could see he wasn't about to attack me,phew,i was safe-to run along a road with trees either side!
I met up with Leanda and Cindy about 4 miles from the end and leanda ran back with me,modesty stops me from saying she still couldnt keep up with me(oops)i was glad to have finished it with her and a couple of minutes later the rest were done too,after a few back slaps we headed home,eventually finding the right road i now realised what a nightmare the women had had getting through.
Apart from a sick stop for David the spirits were high and we discussed everything from school to swimming,it was when Alison nonchelantly said "yes i got sick of driving to the bottom of the alps so the men could go climbing"i felt exactly the same as i had 10 hours earlier-i wouldnt have known these people had i not started running,god i'm glad i did.
thanks to Karl for organising it,the people for running it,the women for driving/moral support and Lisa n Caroline for looking after the boys!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


Ive done a few races this year(as i like to mention every now and again)but none can compare to the 2 starts in the grounds of traqair house(which has a brewery)and ends 18 miles away ar Broughton brewery-hence the name.
Very friendly and light hearted banter at the start and with this being an nfr championship race there were plenty of familiar faces,along with them  Les Turnbull was there so advice was on hand from a bloke thats pretty much done them all,so when he says "take it easy for the first few miles"you listen,or should i say everybody else would listen,not me though,but an hour or so later i was wishing i had.
The 1st couple of miles were more of a long drag than steep,i was quite well placed but the stronger runners were beginning to pull away,as far as i could see there was only 1 nfr vest in front of me and i had long since decided my race was gonna be against them as i had no idea who or how good most of the scottish runners were.
From the top of Birkscairn the next few miles were very hard,a steep descent over dense heather straight up Stob law,more heather then at last a path.Will Horseley had now passed me with Lee Bennet and were trotting away in the distance,i tried not to get to down hearted as i never get near them anyway but my head was starting to say other things.From here to the end i battled the demons as much as the hills.
Past a water point,grabbed a couple of sweets and followed a couple of runners onto a forest road then an abrupt turn through some trees,lucky i'm following these 2 i thought.Round a corner a very steep fire break lay in wait,impossible to run i started walking hydrating as i went,mind games again as 1 of the runners i was with put some distance between us.
A cheery looking marshal shouted "wheres your mate?"looking around i couldnt see anyone so smiled and kept going,whats he on about i thought.Running again and getting into a decent rhythm only to be greeted by a bloke running the other way"how far to the checkpoint"he asked i almost managed to answer him then another few came past asking the same question,i had no idea if i had gone wrong as well but my fears were put to rest as Lee Bennet came past,they had missed the turn off to the fire break,god was i glad i'm a follower not a leader!
Hard track to help my aching joints then water at Stobo castle,whilst drinking a bloke asked"when did you shave your tache off"what the hell you on about i thought as he pointed to my chest,then it dawned on me,i was number 118!with much "hilarity"i was off this time with a bloke who had done this race twice before"how long to go" i asked "about an hour,depends how boggy the swamp is"he said."swamp"i thought-great!
A mile of forest track then there it was in all its glory"the swamp"but there was something lurking in the background-Trahenna the biggest hill/mountain i have ever seen and i had to get over it.
The next bit was a blur jogging/stumbling till the foot of the hill then walking,everybody seemed to be overtaking me including a couple of women,they were coping better than me,bad thoughts in my head again from "stop and have a rest"to"curl up in a ball and die"but i managed to get to the top,a few last steps then i was off running again,well for about 3 steps anyway till cramp took over my calfs,reaching to pull my toes towards me doubled up in pain with people passing(all shouting encouragement)i took off again then i got it in every part of my legs calf,thigh and groin locked in agony but from the shouts i heard i wasnt the only 1.i wasnt going to give up now so off i trudged trying to free my legs,for at least 5 minutes i ran in agony till i got rid of the cramp then it was another steep descent,every so often i would raise a leg too high and the pain was like being stabbed in the leg(i imagine).the last mile was through Broughton i managed to pick up a few places but at this stage most people were hobbling rather than running.
I couldnt see Leanda or the kids at the finish line just Will and a few people i half recognised,i didnt hang around,just picked up my free bottle of beer and headed up the road to be met by the leanda who had missed me finishing due to traffic!she could see my usual post race emotional face so sent the kids to the park and gave me a much needed hug,i tried to say how hard it had been through tears snot and slaver,i think she got the picture,
i ended up coming 29th in a time of 3 29 48,about 4 mins behind will,which was almost worth it but i must admit i didnt particularly enjoy the race,it was too hard so i dont think i'll be doing it again but hey i said that about the lakeland 50!