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Derwent Valley Trail Runners

  A trail running club with a passion for outdoor adventure


Anniversary Waltz Fell Race

Look who Jamie and Dominic bumped into during their latest trip to the Lake District...                         


Hardmoors 55  by Andrew ‘Nez' Nesbit



This was my third attempt at this tough ultra it's not a race I particularly like but as with most Hardmoors stuff I find myself drawn like a moth to a light which is an apt analogy as that's how this race feels...

In 2015 it was my first attempt & only my second ultra I finished in 14:48:34 8th from the end & I was over the moon to have completed it.

Fast forward a year to 2016 & after a big year of running in 2015 I went back to the 55 thinking I could do it in 12 hours, everything was going great till I hit 30 miles & Lordstones Country Park which is where the 3 sisters start for those who don't know it's 3 big ascents & descents in a row covering 3.3 miles it took me 2 & a half hours to say the wheels had come off was an understatement & I didn't care anymore but still finished on a death march in a time of 14:13:37.

So I found myself at the start line again yesterday again with 12 hours in my mind & I had to put the demons from the 3 sisters to bed. I'm not gonna winge on about my legs they are what they are, I've hammered the training in the last 4 months & it showed in good ways & it showed in bad ways. I hit the 3 sisters & wiped them out in 1:06 exercising those demons brilliantly and I finished in a time of 12:01:39 knocking 2 hours & 12 mins off my PB which I would of snapped an arm off for before the race. I beat my Lakeland 50 time which was another milestone I wanted to achieve so all in all a fantastic day. I don't know if I'll go back & do this race again but there's a voice in my head that says I can beat that time, I'll try & silence it.

Think this photo sums up the day smiling on the trails & like Emmet Brown says

"Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads".

Thanks for all the comments & inspiration I've got from everyone at our club!


I went for a run...

The Hardmoors 110 on 30th April 2016 by Andrew 'Nez' Nesbit


Lambton duathlon Sunday 12th April 2015 - By Graham Pearson


The pre-race plan of a couple of drinks, a meal out Saturday afternoon with an early night in bed. Evolved into the evening flashing by at lightspeed. I rolled into the house at 1:40am Sunday morning. Trying to figure out if I could bend time to get more sleep between now and the 7:00am wake up call. With the keys for the Delorean nowhere to be found, alarm cancelled,. Decision made to forgo the 08:30am recce cycling lap tomorrow for extra time in bed. Yawn!...... Morning, Tired and a touch hung-over but excited as this is my first duathlon. Scoffed some breakfast and loaded up the car double checking everything - bike, helmet, left shoe, right shoe, running shoes, driving shoes, me! First race nerves are definitely in, so want to get there quickly as I am not really sure what to do? where to go? who to speak to? etc. Arriving at the venue, the Lambton park main gates were decked out in race flags and sponsors signs confirming I had reached my destination. The gatekeepers from Coalfields race team, cheerfully directed me to the parking and to Lambton castle. Where I needed to go for registration. The car park is only a short distance from the castle and walking towards the main building, you can appreciate how impressive the Lambton estate is. The castle holds a commanding position within the private grounds. Perched high up, on the northern side of the river Wear that divides Lambton Park. It's a shame it's not open to members of the public more often. Entering the 'registration castle' (how many events can use that line?) I pick up my race pack, explaining I am a ‘newbie’ to the race team. Who happily spend time talking me through how my numbers should be displayed, timing chip operation and a reminder of start times etc. With the race number firmly ‘Inked’ onto my hand and 'newbie' fears gone. I was almost ready to go, except the munchies were rising from the previous night. Plundering the events catering stalls to refuel with an espresso coffee and bacon butty (Thank you Safari catering). A quick orientation followed of the start/finish/transition zone, located on the ‘front lawn’ of Lambton castle. Then it was off back to the car to move my bike, helmet and shoes into the transition zone. My bike & race gear, now all set up and ready at my allocated number. I have 15mins before the race briefing, not sure if this is cutting it close but it must be time to get changed and return to the start. 10:00 Race briefing. My first race had me listening attentively to the race organizer and race referee talking through the lap format, start/finish, dismount line, etc. Covering health & safety:- helmet use, overtaking protocol and highlighting the tight bends on the cycling course where caution was required (In the race these corners were well marked with marshals using flags and whistles providing ample time to adjust speed.). The No Drafting rules during the cycling event were reinforced. The race organizer wished us all good luck. I headed for a quick jog to warm up and make my way to the starting pen. Were off!

Already I am in uncharted territory.

In training I never practiced a run/cycle/run so pace is unknown. I am stronger at running than cycling so planned to try running at 10K effort and rely on 'winging it' for the cycling. On leaving the courtyard for the first 0.9 mile lap I was inside the top twenty, hoping to hold my position and gauge pace from the competitors around me. The run lap was to be completed three times during run one and twice for run two. The course was over multi terrain including tarmac, gravel path, trail and grass (explaining the trial shoe requirement). Looping from the house, the lap headed out along a tarmac drive before dropping down through woods to the low banks of the river wear. Then sweeping in front of the 19th century castle along a flat trail following the river, before a sharp turn up the 'sting in the tail’ - a 20% gradient, on grass up 60 feet vertically to the transition area. This climb had competitors smiling at the end every lap….honest! With the first runners of the field, already reaching the lower banks of the Wear, it’s all too easy to be distracted be the amazing views of the castle, these alone are worth the price of entry. Back in the race! My garmin reads four seconds up, as I reach the base of the steep slope up to the castle. A technique of head up and little strides sees me conquer the first climb gaining a couple of places.

Second lap - feeling comfortable on my pace. I am now aware of the rain falling as we head out of the woods along the river.

Holding pace I ease past a couple more runners along the flat river trail, before the second climb up the sting in the tail, it’s hard work but great fun. Another garmin check as I began the third lap and speed is still good. The third lap repeats lap two with a couple more place gains. As I slog up the sting for the third time my mind turns to the transition remembering the briefing instruction and hopefully where to go. Entering the transition area I quickly locate my bike. Helmet on, shoes off, shoes on (First duathlon and ratchet strap will not allow fastening on bike. Neither will my cycling skills!) I lose time to a guy in transition but after the bike mount line I am up to speed faster and enter ahead into the first descent. It will be three laps of 3.5miles, around a rolling technical course contained within the Lambton estate. Today, the rain has made the roads greasy so we proceed cautiously towards the old lamb bridge down a steep twisting descent. Crossing the river my legs seem happy with cycling and understand they are no longer running and we begin climbing up out of the river valley. It’s a shallow climb punctuated by a left hand hairpin, carefully designed to steal all of a cyclist’s momentum. At the top of the ascent I wind up speed along the fast flowing mile long straight. Maximum speed attained and I am promptly re-overtaken (hmmph!!) by the rider who had passed me in transition. I use the straight to take a drink and try relaxing on the bike. The rain is now falling hard, and concentration is required. The fast straight ends with a ninety left.

A marshal gives clear instruction to slow and proceed carefully.

The descent back into the valley begins with fast turns past hedgerows and trees.(Too busy staying upright to see anything else!). Progressing down the valley, I have carried more speed through the bends than the rider ahead. Drawing level as we approach the hazard corner mentioned in the race briefing. (A hard left hand bend midway down a steep descent. Opening out into a fast right hand curve.) Marshalls warn of the hazard, the wet road offering little grip we both break hard and tip toe around the apex. Noting to carry an extra few miles per hour next time. Pushing back up to speed down towards the river. My fellow racer pulls away again, crossing over the new bridge into the final climb of the lap. The tarmac drive steeply banks up to the castle. Standing on the pedals to rise up the hill, my speed is dropping to single figures before the hill levels out. Passing the castle, a quick drink and a pace check has over eighteen miles per hour average speed. Second lap – first lap knowledge means I am starting to have fun on the descent to the old lamb bridge. Almost too much fun, as I carry a lot of speed onto the bridge launching my bike, momentarily, in to the air from the steep humpback. Wheels back down on terra firma and a big smile on my face, I set about the steady climb up to the fast flowing section. The course ahead is populated with slower riders fresh from transition. I am using each rider as a goal to get past then move on to the next target. Approaching the final climb, I have reduced the gap to twenty metres behind the rider ahead. The hill is busy with cyclists completing their first lap, we pick our way through the field up past the castle. Average speed is still above eighteen, so I settle in for the final lap. The heavy rain has soaked the course and me! I am feeling cold and strangely looking forward to the final run as opportunity to get warmed up. I drop down the first descent quickly towards the river. Recalling the humpback from lap two, I stand up to absorb the launch over the crest. No dramas this lap but progress will not be as quick third time around. I’d like to blame the weather, poor conditions, etc., but it’s me, my engine is fading. I am still amazed as I crest the final climb, slower than before but average speed still shows eighteen miles per hour. I take a risk approaching the dismount line and decide to leave my shoes clicked in. I carefully slide my feet out, in readiness for the run through transition.

Bam! as I step off the bike both calf muscles cramp severely, ensuring I run like a drunken stick insect towards transition.

Parking my bike, and attempting to remove my helmet. My fingers are too numb and cannot operate the helmet clasp. Feels like minutes are ticking away while I fight to squeeze the tabs. Eventually my thumb makes progress and the strap releases. Trail shoes on – flippers probably would be a better choice under this heavy April shower – I head out of transition, with my legs screaming from cramp. A slow motion jog across the courtyard, leads on to the last leg of this journey. Run two lap one, for the most part was running off cramp and I never feel comfortable. The leader laps me still wearing his cycle helmet. (He had the same fate as myself with an irremovable helmet). Once onto the low river track, cramp receding, I began making progress towards the runner in front. We reach the top of the castle climb together…race on! We're neck and neck around the final lap. The descent down to the river was greasy. My challenger fell and slid down the grass through the trees. I had the opportunity to pass but no longer had the legs. Reaching the final ascent up the sting in the tail, I was well and truly stung! Managing to hang on up the climb, almost a chance for another place, but my sprint finish was now only a walk finish. So I followed across the line. My first, and Coalfield's first duathlon is now finished.

How do I feel?

I have a refreshing ‘Finishers’ pint in hand . I am very wet. I am very cold. I am very tired, but most importantly I am very happy. The venue was excellent. the Coalfields race team were fantastic. The course was great and I bagged a top ten finish.

When is next year’s sign up open?


Redcar Half Marathon - By Glynis Turner


Why would someone who loves trail running enter a 13.1 mile road race?

Well, when I entered my only experience of trail running was the Lambton 10k and Derwent Valley Trail Runners didn't exist, that's how.

So, how did it go?

This was my 5th half marathon and the 4th one trying to break 2:15.

Four of us were travelling down, myself, Stephen, Graham, Kimberley (my, very reluctant, training partner and Graham's wife), it was a relaxed journey down, Graham was driving and knew where he was going so we arrived in good time. There was a 5k that started 5 minutes before the half from the same point and Graham was running in that so it was nice to be able to give him a cheer as he set off. After that the three of us lined up for our start, it was delayed for a few minutes, no idea why - they really need a better p.a. system but it did give us a chance to get talking to a runner who recognised our club vests from our very first NEHL Cross Country outing the day before! And then we were off! It was a mad dash round an immediate bend in the road and the first mile went by in a blur, I had gone off too fast of course, I was trying to bank some quicker miles for later but sub 9 minute miles were not something I was ever going to be able to maintain, it helped that part of it was downhill. Mile 2 - I had looked at my watch and realised I was going at a suicidal (for me) pace and started to slow down.

You may have noticed I haven't had much to say about my surroundings - that's because there's not much to say about a dual carriageway other than its Tarmac and the surface is very level.

5 miles of dual carriageway with embankments on either side, nothing to look at but the runners in front of you and because this is a 'racing snakes' course no fun runners in fancy dress to distract you from your feet burning as they slap the Tarmac step after step, after step. There was a turn around point at the 3.5 mile point so you did get to see the wheelchair racers and the front runners going past which was equally inspirational ('wow, look at them go!') and demoralising ('how can they be that far ahead already?'). When I reached 3 miles Stephen passed me on the other side and gave me a lovely bit of support which I already needed - this part of the course has practically no spectators and feels quite lonely. As I passed Kimberley I gave her a little cheer, she just grimaced at me, like I said, she's a very reluctant running partner. The next 3 miles were surprisingly comfortable given my pace - I even had another sub 9 minutes for mile 6.

Mile 7 sees you back at the start and amongst supporters again, Graham was waiting around the bend with the camera, it's a good job he shouted 'smile', and then you head out along the sea front, passing arcades and chip shops - now, normally I'm a big fan of fish and chips but the smell of old chip fat turned my stomach, I really thought I was going to be sick. Then the sun came out, if I was there for paddling in the sea and eating ice cream that would have been great but with almost 6 miles still to go and a time to chase, it was a nightmare. I really struggled through miles 8-9, there really is nothing to distract you from what you are doing to yourself, I think if this had been the cross over point at the start I would have pulled out.

It's another out and back stretch and again Stephen passed me with words of support, this time I wanted to punch him!

Just before mile 10 I lost the will to live and thought '**** it!' and stopped to have a drink and chatted with a marshal, I'm sure she thought I was nuts but it was just what I needed. I set off again for the last 5k, just a parkrun to go, gradually picking my pace back up with each step. I passed Kimberley again, this time she gave me the finger - it was nice knowing someone was feeling as bad as me. Just after the 12 mile marker I see Stephen ahead of me, if I can just keep going I might be able to catch up with him. It felt like forever but I did it, 1 mile or so to go and I finally have someone to run with - Mr Bloody Motivator, the last thing I really wanted, why did I work so hard to catch him, it's a good job I was exhausted or I would have brained him! 400 yards to go and Graham is there with his camera again! I'm smiling but it's the last thing I feel like doing. 100 yards to go and Stephen is telling me 'you can do this, keep going, you can do this'.... I was thinking of all the different ways I could murder him...

My legs are like jelly but finally, finally, I cross the line in 02:09:43, I had done it and I never have to run on a road again!


NEHL Race 1 Tanfield - By Steve "Snake Hips" Turner.


The 26th of September will now be remembered for the birth of two pretty special things.

The 26th of September will now be remembered for the birth of two pretty special things. Firstly 52 years ago thankfully I, myself, managed to burst into the world an event that was to raise many a smile in the years that followed. Secondly, and more importantly, the birth of a new force on the cross country competitive stage, Derwent Valley Trail Runners, a group of runners who migrated together with one common goal, namely the joy of running.

A still pleasant morning greets us in a field between landmarks such as the Causey Arch and Tanfield Railway and the first objective is achieved, pole position for the new fully liveried tent. Already the atmosphere is building with the sound of junior runners chomping at the bit to get going. Little did we know the scale of the event we had entered into but we would be left in no doubt the end of the day as the scene would be littered with thousands of running enthusiasts of all levels.

The course we would be running on although looking quite tame, would unleash tests, twists and turns only as a surprise after entering the wooded sections.

All numbers collected and pinned there was very little time to think before our heroes of the day were lined up at the start. Sonni, Terri and Emily were off and soon disappeared into the woodland to test themselves against the best there is in the under 15 and under 18 girls age groups. Confusion was in danger of overcoming anticipation with the sheer variation and quantity of age groups until the emergence of the girls still full of running and looking tremendous, amazing us with a 7th and 10th in the under 15 for Sonni and Emily followed with a 3rd place, behind a British triathlete, for Terri.

Next was the turn of the ladies (no pressure then).

After what seemed like only a few minutes since arriving, nearly 2 hours had lapsed and the newly unveiled red and black of DVTR took to the start line once more. Filled with the recent news of a water jump from the juniors, well more of a water jump in, and previously unknown muddy ascents and tricky descents they set off. The 4k two lap course was to prove a test for all entrants and some great photo/video opportunities for the club web site of the battling performances from the girls. Amy and Suzie were our first finishers chased hard by Emma, Glynis, Joanne and Karen who as a newcomer to trail running gave a massive performance. All of the ladies came back to the tent with stories of how tough they found the course and more importantly how cold the water jump was. It was an inspiring effort from them all.

Nothing left to do I suppose but to line up with rest of DVTR’s men for 3 laps of the largely unknown.

A start line of hundreds soon became a bottleneck of athletes at the first mud laden hill. After 30 seconds of impatience and jostling we were off again to tackle the first lap of the course. A ’flat’ course rapidly turned into an absolute energy sapping combination of long stretches of testing inclines and muddy trenches with elbows thrown in through the narrow avenues. At last we break through the treeline to be greeted with a descent into the water jump, a feature that the great Edwin Moses would have had trouble clearing at his peak. Only way to take this was to shout ‘banzai’ and push on up the ever worsening bank that followed but a great lift to hear the support of all that had ran before us.

Oh no! Was the thought that hit us as we realised a second venture into the trees loomed. I say we but by this point Michael, Andy and Nez were probably finishing the first lap and going on to record great times and doing the team proud. Michael running so hard at the end that he collapsed needing to be helped back to the tent for immediate food and water intake but that’s what happens when you run with too much facial hair, it’s not aerodynamic, though he is still amazingly quick.

Back in the pack Mark, Brian and myself jostled for places unaware Paul had entered the race, some 3 minutes late due to international airport taxi duties, bringing the least grippy road shoes he could find. The lord alone knows how he got round but he did and managed to pick off people as he went.

With thighs burning by now the four of us felt the adrenalin rush of the, thankfully, downhill finishing straight. One by one we pushed for the line with the mantra ‘am ganna have him, am ganna have him’ the only thing we had the energy to process. Relief, at last, as we had crossed the line with only the obligatory hand shake of the competitors we had passed and would have happily killed for one more placing not moments before.

All that was left was a final gathering at the tent for cake, pie, water and the exchanging of stories that had all made this such a fun, tough and enjoyable event.

A huge well done to all of our team and supporters and see you all at the next NEHL event.



Lakeland 50 - By Dawn Metcalfe.


A 50 mile Ultra Marathon ran over rough terrain with over 3100m of climb.

This was my 3rd year of running in the Lakeland 50 which involves running 50 miles up and down some of the Lake Districts finest fells.
I entered this race 10 months prior to the race date thinking I had ample time to train for it, but with a new running club, a race to organise, an educational trip away to Sri Lanka and an injury meant that I could not put in the training that I would of liked to. 3 weeks before the race I contemplated pulling out but as it's one of my favourite races and I knew I could do the distance, I decided just to go for it and not worry about a good time and just enjoy the experience and the day.

The morning of the race came and it was glorious, inspite of the night before, our double air bed mysteriously seemed to deflate just after midnight. We only had a pump which is operated by the car battery and whilst not wanting to wake to whole campsite up we made the decision to stay put and try to sleep on the deflated air bed - not recommended as I had 0 hours sleep and sleep is a fairly important factor before any race especially a 50 mile one in the Lake District. Anyway up rose the sun, it was a beautiful morning surrounded by the mountains and the whole campsite was buzzing with a mixture of excitement and nerves for the journey ahead which for some would be the next 24 hours. I was determined just to relax and enjoy the race as knowing I had done very little training my race plan now was just to enjoy the scenery and soak up the atmosphere of like mind people in the most picturesque place in the United Kingdom.

I was totally relaxed about the whole thing at the start, as normally I'm quite nervous before a race and then we were off...

My plan was just to get from A to B with as little drama as possible. The trouble with ultra marathons is that it is easy to go off too quick with the crowd but one of the secrets I have learnt over the years is to listen to my own body and run my own race at my own pace. I started fuelling from the beginning with the help of my camel back and was in and out of the 1st checkpoint Howtown which was renamed Howdy-town, as it was Western themed complete with Cowboys and Indians. Now those that know Fusedale -which is 2500ft of ascent and is no mean feat in normal weather especially in the warmer weather which we were having today - seemed to go on forever and has a deceiving summit and just as you think you are close to the top there is a little more climb before you reach the summit of High Kop.

Phew, boy did it feel good to reach the top of Fusedale the views of Haweswater are spectacular and made the climb worthwhile.

Next checkpoint Mardale Head before the beast of Gatesgarth, which is another fairly steep climb. I felt fairly good and strong on the climbs but at this point my toes were suffering badly. The reason why, is that I had decided to run with insoles as I had been suffering with an ankle/ shin injury. Now the insoles seemed to work but they left me with less room in my Salomons which in turn, on the downhills caused my feet to push into the toe box and not having much room my big toes were getting hammered. I was in agony going down hill. I continued like this for around 2 miles. It had slowed my pace right down to the point when I was striking my foot on the ground I was trying to land heel first and push my foot back as not to crush my big toes. Eventually I had to stop and remove the insoles of my shoes. My feet breathed a sigh of relief and I was good to go again. I really wish there was an operation to remove toenails because they are a massive hindrance. Suffice to say both my big toenails are now dropping off. Rip you useless things.

Ambleside - mile 35

Coming into Ambleside is when I could feel myself starting to become a little tired but those who know Ambleside and have done this race is that it you receive one of the warmest welcomes and after 35 miles of running it is a massive boost for us runners. The whole street applauds you and people are spilling out of the pubs and shops to watch the runners go by and cheer them on. This is where I saw Mike and Spirit, which also gave me a huge boost and knowing I only had 15 miles to go, it worked wonders on my moral. I dibbed straight in and out of this checkpoint and it was a shame to leave the carnival like atmosphere here in Ambleside. It resembled a circus, which looked like fun, as everyone was dressed up as clowns.

The next 15 miles I decided to get my head down and remain focussed on reaching Coniston which was the finish. Now all through the race I just went with the flow and I had no idea what position I was in. I was just enjoying the journey and taking in the scenery and enjoying the moment. The next 15 miles I had some highs and some lows but I was determined to push on through the lows as I knew that they don't last long. I was about half a mile from the last checkpoint when I started to lose energy and hit the wall. Normally I can eat or drink something sugary and shake it off but this was unshakeable. I slowed right down and when I reached Tilberthwaite I had to sit down as I felt ill. I knew it was just my body craving for food but I just felt like I could not stomach anything. This is where I had to give myself a good talking to and told myself to pull myself together as there was only 3 miles left to the finish.

3 cups of coke, a piece of watermelon and a cheese and pickle sandwich later (which saved the day), I pulled myself together. I forced myself to leave the safe harbours of the last checkpoint and set myself adrift - well it wasn't exactly like this - as those who know those dreaded Tilberthwaite steps will resonate with me. I literally dragged myself up the steps!

(Note to self to practice more with nutrition as two 9 bars are not sufficient enough over 50 miles!)

Soon I felt my body slightly returning to normal and managed to great back into a good rhythm of running and stay focussed running up and over the technical decent of Tilbertwaite Quarry and on to the finish in Coniston. Running through Coniston main street towards the finish, I was cheered on like a champion by people who had lined the streets to watch the finishers.
At the finish, cheers to the sound of '50 finisher coming through' never fails to put a proud smile on my face.
What an amazing journey.

I finished in my best time ever of 10.15
51st out of a field of 600

Just a few words to sum up ultra running, ultra running is a bit like life, full of highs and lows but you get there eventually...

The secret is to enjoy the journey