Chevy Chase, 1st July 2023
Seven hardy Claremont runners took part in Wooler Running Club’s 66th Chevy Chase this Saturday, a couple of them have provided their epic accounts.
Maria Dueñas: Chevy Chase is a 20-mile fell race with around 4,000 ft total ascent in the Cheviots (mainly climbing The Cheviot and Hedgehope Hill).
This was my third year running it and I’m glad to see that the group keeps growing and growing! This year’s Claremont runners consisted of myself, Dave, and Jamie, and making their Chevy debut: Kimberly, Izzy, Chris, and Nina. If you want to know more details about the route, check out previous year’s Chevy Chase reports.
Prior to the race, we were warned about the 50mph wind gusts, but otherwise we had near-perfect weather conditions. There was rain with wind on the ascent to Cheviot, and extremely strong winds at Hedgehope Hill.
I personally found the race very mentally draining, with a series of minor inconveniences messing with my mind. During the run, I felt little ants (or as Kimberley corrected me “pins and needles”) in my left foot for the first 10 km. This caused me to have a few falls and I honestly thought about quitting about 20 times, but I knew I had to finish! On top of that, my hydration bladder completely stopped working (so much for the dress rehearsals during my training runs). I was very frustrated and a bit panicky when ZERO water came out, but luckily I have great teammates and friends. Both Izzy and Kim shared their bottles/water and were very patient and understanding.
After Hedgehope we used my water, since I was carrying useless weight, to top-up our bottles. We ran together for most of the race, with me lagging on the descents (with my backside downhill-shuffle technique) and the last 5 km. I have no idea how people run those descents! Both Izzy and Kimberly are little mountain goats, because they were not fazed by the steep slope one bit!
Around 4 hours after we set off, Chris was the first to arrive back at The Youth Hostel finish line. Well done Chris with your impressive debut time! Izzy, Kim, and I followed around 30 minutes after. The four of us were relaxing and eating our chips while listening to the award ceremony, when we suddenly heard “Claremont Road Runners” and our names. Turns out there’s a prize for 1st Female Team (top 3 runners of the same club) and we won! We were shrieking with excitement, and honestly this moment made all the unfortunate events I experienced worth it.
Jamie (with his extra legendary status), and Dave (almost finishing without a shoe) joined a little after that, and we all enjoyed the sunshine, with Nina following not long after that.
Afterwards, most of us headed off to the Milky Bar and Café to claim our free hot drink/ice cream. Although it doesn’t seem like it based on the report, Chevy Chase is by far one of my favourite races of the year, and I think everyone should give it a go. For a low registration fee, you get 20 miles of fun, friendly marshals/organisers (thank you!), chips and drinks at the end of the race, a voucher for ice cream, a buff, and a cotton T-shirt.
I hope to see a bigger group of Claremont Road Runners at Chevy Chase 2024!
Jamie Harding: ‘Claremont Glory at the Chevy Chase’
I have great trouble remembering dates and am always forgetting the birthdays of relatives (Christmas is not so bad because that’s the same date for everyone and I hear lots of silly songs to remind me that it’s on its way).
But one date that is firmly etched in my mind is the first Saturday in July – Chevy Chase day. And it was even more memorable this year because the tectonic plates of Northeast Fell Running shifted and Claremont struck a decisive blow for the underdogs.
There was an excellent Claremont contingent at the start line and we had found various ways to prepare ourselves for the race: running in Chopwell Woods, single leg squats to give strength for the descent of the Cheviot, drinking a bit less than usual the night before, etcetera.
We had been forecast gusty winds and that means something quite unique on top of Cheviot and Hedgehope. Trying to put my waterproof jacket on at the top of Hedgehope was a particularly bad idea, as I found when it almost blew away, and opted for the more practical option – the one taken by everyone else – of running down into the valley to get out of the wind and rain instead.
I’m pleased to say that all the Claremont runners reached the finish safely:
Chris Jones: Chris ran an excellent time but had a disappointing reaction, saying that he might not do the race again. He clearly concentrated too much on the running and not enough on taking in the scenery and the ambience: any of us could have gone under four hours if we had just kept our heads down and gone for it, but where would be the fun in that?
Isabel Neatrour, Kimberley Metson and Maria Dueñas: The history-making Claremont women faced a number of challenges: Maria had difficulties with injury, falls and not being able to get water out of her hydration bladder, Kimberley wore pink shoes (pink and brown by the end) and put all her kit on the outside of her bag rather than inside it. But they battled through and won the women’s team first prize. I was still beside Carey Burn when the presentation was made but can imagine the shock at the finish when it was realised that Claremont had won, and the old order was being swept away.
Me and Dave Lydall: We had been promised that the wind would be behind us in the second half of the race, having run into it all the way up the Cheviot, but did not seem to feel the benefit until the last couple of miles, when Dave and I both made a dash for Wooler. Dave was prevented from going under five hours by slow runners on the narrow path that leads back to the Youth Hostel and by one of his running shoes splitting – continuing a fine Claremont tradition.
Nina Jensen: This was a bit like the Wooler Parkrun for Claremont’s most prolific ultra-marathon runner, but she enjoyed the race and then told us that she was going to be a pacer in the Great North 10k the next day.
As ever, the post-race refreshments were excellent and we were also provided with a coffee voucher for the Milk Bar in Wooler: we were all delighted when the bar agreed that the voucher could be used for ice cream as well as coffee.
Izzy, Kimberley and Maria found it amusing that Dave and I went for showers after the race so that we could look our best for the Milk Bar, but it only seemed right when we would be sitting with people who had changed the course of Northeast Fell Running for ever.