Race Reports

Race Report 11/08

In normal circumstances, Harriers would be busy this week putting final touches to this year’s Sessay Swift 6k, which would have been its 9th running on Aug 19th.  Like most other events, coronavirus has forced the cancellation of what had become a very popular event.  The race evolved because, like climbing Everest (not as hard, maybe,) it’s there!  The circular route lends itself to a race, and the 6k happened because, just to go right round was longer than the usual 5k and shorter than 10k.  To have a 5k would have meant starting near the church if we were to finish at the Village Hall where facilities and parking were based.  6k was just the length it was, and there were several comments at the beginning about “Mickey Mouse” race!  Traffic is always very light, and police approval was gained, as well as Highways.  The first year, 2012, we had 66 finishers, the next year, 80 and then 109, and it has increased in popularity year on year so that last year there were 254 finishers.  A computer literate friend developed a system and sorted out the results for several years, but last year as the race was growing bigger, chip timing was introduced, which means that no matter where you start, you get the time it actually takes you to run.

Runners, right from the beginning, have come from a wide area, and the winner the first year, in a time of 19.48 minutes, was Aidan Adams of Leeds City, with Hester Cox of Thirsk and Sowerby being 1st lady in 25.07.  Winners in the men’s race have come from Richmond and Zetland, Billingham Marsh House, and Harrogate Harriers, and the winner last year, in a course record time of 18.22 minutes was John Ashcroft from Leeds City.  Winning ladies have been from Richmond and Zetland (Shona Fletcher two years running, 2013 and 2014, when she set a course record of 21.14), Ripon Runners who always send a big contingent, Saltaire Striders, Thirsk and Sowerby again in 2018 in the guise of Olivia Mulligan, and last year’s winner,  from Rotherham AC.

Helpers have generally come from friends and family, so that members who wanted to run were able to, though they provided invaluable help before and after the race with setting and clearing up, car parking, marking out the course, and any other jobs which needed doing.  When it became a Club Championship race, it was more important then ever that members could run if they wanted to, and about 35 of them did last year.  Sessay Cricket Club over the years has given a lot of help, with first Brian Flintoff and then his son John, keeping an overall eye, especially on car parking, which is a big issue at any race.  Last year, John suggested the cricketers put on a barbecue, which was hugely popular, and it was hoped it would be repeated  this year.  The Village Hall has made a superb headquarters, and thanks to their committee for making it available, and the tolerance and support of villagers has been very much appreciated.

Hopefully, in happier and more “normal” times, the race will be held on Aug 18th 2021, but if you want to have a run round this year, it will be marked out on the road from Aug 12th.  Help yourself!

Race Report 03/08

The latest virtual club championship race, the Kilburn 7.2, comprised elements of 2 previous courses so there was no danger of getting lost, and the tracks were mainly good going with testing ups and downs, as befits a “race ” at Kilburn!  Paul Peacock had his first win for the Harriers in a time of 46.38 with evergreen Stephan Tomaszewski 2nd in 47.39, just squeaking ahead of Matt Jones, 3rd in 47.41.  Another evergreen, Rob Burn, was 4th in 51.10 with David Fawkes 5th in 52.45, Mike Lowther 6th in 52.52, just ahead of Gary Wilkinson, 7th in 52.53.  Jack Fisher came 8th in 54.53, Rob Lickley 9th in 55.28 and Alan Simpson 10th in 55.44. 

The unbeatable Esther Harrison was again 1st finisher among the ladies, 4th overall in 50.31 with Lorraine Hiles 2nd, and 7th overall, in 51.57, Trudy Morrice 3rd, 12th overall, in 54.37, Rosie Gatenby 4th in 57.42, Clare Tempest 5th in 59.11, only a second in front of Kirsty Naylor, 6th in 59.12, Helen Ashworth 7th in 61.49, Faith Coy 8th in 66.05, Sarah Scott 9th in 66.08 and Sonja van der Westhuisen 10th in 66.13.  59 members and guests continued their enthusiasm for these virtual races, which could be done over 4 days.

Some disappointing but predictable news now – this year’s SESSAY SWIFT 6k, due to take place on August 19th, has had to to be cancelled along with thousands of others.  The decision was left as late as possible but there was really no alternative.  However, the course will be marked out as usual from Aug 12th, and you can have a freebie run round if you want to!  Be mindful of people who live in the village.

Race Report 28/07

Members’ enthusiasm and initiative knows no bounds, and two of them Fran Jeffery and Paul Chapman took on the challenge of the virtual 100 mile Montane Lakeland race, in their own locality, of course.  You were allowed to do it over a week, and Fran did hers over 6 days, whilst going to work each day at the same time (after walking the dog).  Day 1 saw her covering 13 miles, which was pretty much her daily average for the first 4 days, through Kirby Knowle, Boltby and Mount St John.  It was Kilburn Woods in day 2 joing some other members on a social run , followed by a flattish 13 miles locally on day 3.  Day 4 she was at Osmotherley reservoir, and for the 25 miles on day 5 she took in Black Hambleton and Lake Gormire.  She was again local for her final day and was delighted to finish with a doughnut and coffee at Greggs with Gavin who has supported her some of the time!  A total of 106 miles in 22 hours 41 minutes!

Paul Chapman had a different approach, deciding to cover the Cleveland Way, Filey to Helmsley, 109 miles, over 3 days.  Little did he know that it included two sections of beach and a dog leg out and back up Roseberry Topping!  Monday was Filey to Staithes, 44 miles, Tuesday Staithes ot Clay Bank, 33 miles, and Clay Bank to Osmotherly, 32 miles – and then home to bed!  He had taken 31 hours 30 minutes.  Many congratulations to both.

This was Paul’s second 100 mile in a week effort.  During lockdown, he completed at least a half marathon every day for a week!

Virtual Championships

The club continued its virtual championship, this time aiming to replicate the Ripon 10 as near as possible.  The course, cleverley devised by Duncan Fothergill and James Stephenson, with help from Rob and Christine Burn, was a figure of 8 route allowing for a water stop at the halfway point, along the Cleveland Way.  The high point was at High Paradise Farm – where many people were availing themselves of the takeaways on offer.  (Not Harriers, sadly.)  The multi-terrain course, with a long stretch on the road towards the finish, and an out and back half mile sting in the tail at the end, held the interest throughout.  74 Harriers and guests took part and the long-legged Tom Levi was once agin a comfortable first in 64.48, with an ever improving Matt Jones 2nd in 71.14 and another long legged runner, Josh Copper 3rd in 71.47.  Esther Harrison was again first lady with a tenth fastest group time of 79.20, with Trudy Morrice 2nd, and 14th finisher, in 82.15 and Kirsty Naylor 3rd, and 19th finisher, in 84.50.  The run could be done any time over Thursday to Sunday, and generally it was dry, but if you were unlucky, you could experience a quick and torrential downpour!  The enthusiasm for this virtual championship is tremendous!

The previous weekend, Gary Wilkinson was involved in another virtual race, Endure 24, which is a 24 hour solo or team relay race over 5 mile trail loops, held annually over a weekend in June in Leeds and Reading.  Gary enterd, and completed 25 miles, including 2 laps starting at 4am on Sunday morning.  He is collecting sponsorship for NHS charities at  justgiving.com/fundraising/endure24nhs    He also completed his 10th solo park run from home, #notaparkrun on Saturday organised by Paul Chapman on strava.

Thirsk 10 – a little bit of history

Thirsk 10, in one form or another, has been held annually for more than 40 years, and the race this year was just squeezed in before lockdown, for which the club was happy, but not more so than the 1000 or so runners who took part.  The origins of the race go back to the early 50s, when Hambleton District Council organised the Northallerton to Thirsk 10 mile Road Race, at a time when road races were almost unheard of, but the would be founder of Thirsk and Sowerby Harriers, Norman Smith, took part, along with maybe a couple of hundred or so runners.

Norman did a lot of running in those days, at Darlington Harriers and at Harrogate Harriers, as well as on the roads round Thirsk, and when he looked into the feasibility of a club in Thirsk, in 1977, and it was established, he decided to have a go at resurrecting the earlier race with the support of Hambleton District Council.  The race would begin at the far side of Northallerton, about opposite where Sam Turners now is, and finish in Thirsk Market Place.  Runners were bussed to Northallerton, with changing in the Community Centre, and finished in front of the Golden Fleece in Thirsk.  Presentations were made in Thirsk Town Hall, and 300 to 400 runners took part.  In 1982, there were more than 500 runners, with only 36 of them women.  How things have changed!  The race was held in June, starting at 2pm, which could well be the hottest part of the day – in fact, in 1982, it was wet!  The winner that year was Ian Gilmour of Wolverhampton of Wolverhampton, a Scottish international runne,r in 48.20, with Paul Taylor of Sunderland 2nd in 49.42 and Brendan Foster of Gateshead 3rd in 49.42.  Over the years, top class runners have been attracted to the event because of the flat course enabling fast times, and this continues to be the case to this day, with Alyson Dixon of Sunderland a recent winner of the ladies race, and Tracey Morris of Valley Striders a few years previously, both going on the represent Team GB in the Olympic Marathon. 

The course for the route was brought to an abrupt end, when one year in the early 80s, the race had just started when the crossing gates went down because of an approaching train (nothing changes) and a hundred or so runners got through but the remainder had to wait for the train, which made a mockery of the race.  A new course had to be found, and the race became the Thirsk 10.  The start was opposite the racecourse, with runners going round Town End, up Topcliffe Road, along Gravel Hole Lane, along Front Street, Sowerby, back across Town End, and into Newsham Road to continue back through Sandhutton to the racecourse.  The police were a great help in the early days, but times change, and traffic hold ups were horrendous along Station Road.  Remember, this was June, a very hot day, and holiday makers going through Thirsk were sitting scorching in their cars, not very happy! 

The race was then moved to November, passing along Newsham Road, with an out and back near Sandhutton to make up the 10 miles, but one year it had to be cancelled on the day of the race because of snow and ice on the road, which lost the race a lot of friends.  The date was moved once again to March  where it remains to this day.  The course has been tweaked from time to time, but still attracts top class runners from far and wide, as well as novices who want to test themselves over 10 miles.

I recently discovered that in the early to mid 80s, the Round Table organised a half marathon, in July, which again started at the racecourse, through the Market Place, along Northallerton Road to and through Thornton le Moor, on to the A167, and back through Sandutton to the racecourse.  About 500 runners took part, the race being started one year by Ian Botham!  No doubt Norman Smith and Cyril Sherwood were on hand to give advice!

Thirsk 10 - 2020

Sunday 15th March 2020

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