Elvet Striders – Shaun Lee Johnstone Memorial Race – 21 October 2012

Phil Owen – Elvet Striders

When I started running races Dave Robson and I seemed to do a lot of small races around the North East and Yorkshire. The best ones always seemed to be the smaller ones in some little village or town like the Kirkby Malzeard 10K or the Muddy Boots, Ripon. I love these races, usually quite cheap – rarely more than a tenner and often the most enjoyable with the profits going to various charities and or schools. They are nearly always over run with marshals and volunteers to keep the cost down, with one (I can’t remember where it was) that had more marshals than runners! This race falls well in to that category with nearly all the money going to the Shaun Lee Johnstone Fund:

Ray Johnstone tragically lost his son Shaun in 1998 when he was only 16 years old. Shaun died within five months after complaining to his GP about headaches and shaking in his left hand. Unfortunately nothing was done and neither Shaun nor his parents were told of the possible connection. The day before Shaun died ‘psychosomatic’ was written on his medical notes. Ray and his wife Paula have been tireless fundraisers for SDBTT since that time. They have now raised over £20,000! A great many activities and events have been planned and undertaken and Ray has been successful in helping to raise the profile of the Trust in his local area of North Yorkshire. [From the website]

A wonderful 10 mile off road race to be held annually, run around the fields, narrow farm tracks and bridleways just south of Boroughbridge off the old York Road (168). Anna the Harrier and I travelled down together and pulled into a little café that was used for parking. It was quite early, so we had coffee and home made ginger biscuits in the café, before crossing the 168 on to a farm road where the field gathered. We met up with John a Fetchie, and stood chatting until 10 minutes from the off, when we realised we had not picked our numbers up. Rushed to a farm building a few minutes away and grabbed our numbers and after a short speech saying the course was largely dry, but the lake was still there, we were off. (Note: this route has the potential to be very muddy – which is good of course.)

A short stretch of tarmac and then soon on to typical farm trails with runners running single file on the two tractor tyre tracks. On to a narrow single track with high trees, bushes and hedgerows where overtaking was difficult (note to self for next year get the best position I can early on if possible) and back along a wider path where the ‘lake’, a large puddle easily passed, then through a gate where the supportive farmer had thankfully removed the bull and cows the day before and on to the pasture at two miles in, (all miles were clearly marked), across a small ditch, round a copse of trees and back through the gate we had come through. Anna stayed who had kindly pointed out her slowest 10 mile time would beat my PB, stayed slightly ahead of me lolling along without a care in the world while I tried to run as hard as I could, on my somewhat weary legs. Through a  farm, with the farmer and his family and ever present Lyons Club members handing out water and back on to more farm trails. Much the same beautiful Yorkshire landscape gleaming in the sunshine follows until we were again going back through the farm for more water, (I never take any for 10-mile races these days unless it’s really hot) through the gate again, back over the ditch round the copse of trees again and hard to the finish at the farm. Water and medal handed out at the end. I was happy enough to equal my PB which bodes well for Brampton on less weary legs. Well done to Anna who won her age category without trying!

A perfect well organised race and £2000 raised. I will definitely be back to do it next year.

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