Stanhope Trail Races Half-marathon AKA 15 MILE! – 16th July 2023

by Lisa Donaldson

I thought I would sign up for a challenging run for my London marathon training back in March but due to the weather it got snowed off and re-arranged for July time. Ok, no bother, I will use it for my Amsterdam marathon training.… winner!!

I knew it was going to be a challenge with 1800ft of climb within the 1st 9 miles but what you read and what you physically do are two different things altogether and WOW, that’s all I can say. There were a few effing and jeffing moments I wont lie!

After the 3rd long steep climb 3 mile in I was about ready to just jink off with the 10km’s at 4 mile over the road rather than carry on up another 4th hill, but NO, I fought the devil on my shoulder trying to make me quit and I turned right up another lovely climb which then took us onto a fell top, a tiny little track where I struggled to get one foot in front of the other then came what felt like a 60mph wind. All I can describe it as is having your head out of a car window driving at high speed, mouth was flapping about and the lot air pods flew out my ears so a quick dash back to retrieve these.

Then the rain appeared, had to put my head down as the rain was hitting with some force with that wind. There were some downhills, I will give them that, but ankle breaking downhills, full of rocks and bumpy bits, so wasn’t like you could fly down them either but I gave it a good go while screaming a bit haha!!

Then comes the 9th mile and the last climb and I just kept thinking “how strong this will make you for a FLAT marathon” and that got me up that last hill and the remaining 4 miles were actually quite nice, sun came out the wind dropped, more of a track underfoot and plenty of room to get my big size 7.5 feet spread out a bit.

But no, this was far to good to be the end of the dreaded trail race. What more do you need at 14 mile in after climbing a million mountains, legs shot to bits, than a little 1 mile technical run along a narrow (steep drop to the left) riverside run? Little jump over a stile, tree roots galore and little, narrow, slippery bridges to cross and very steep downhill steps and with battered legs it was no fun. I kept a little far to the right to avoid the steep drop left and ended up in the bushes but its not a trail race if you haven’t fell at least once, right??

The light at the end of the tunnel I see ROAD…..yes a quick dash over the road past the ford and over the bridge I see the finish and think thank F for that. To say the least I looked like I had been dragged through a hedge backwards but I got it done. Give me a marathon any day of the week but, never say never, I do love a good challenge!! And lo and behold I managed to get 3rd lady back so not bad going for someone who isn’t trained on trail running, I’m actually over the moon with that 😊

There were another 3 crookites who signed up for this gruelling challenge Sam Etherington doing the half but not half too and Phil Healey & Martin Harbisher doing the 10k which wasn’t 6.2 mile but 7 miles.

Results below:

Sam Etherington – 2:02:27 9th overall out of 148
Lisa Donaldson – 2:17:05 3rd Lady, 30th overall out of 148

Martin Harbisher – 1:16:27 38th overall out of 130
Phil Healey- 1:19:19 51st overall out of 130