In memory of Alison Brind

Alison Brind – Karen Nash’s memories

Sadly Alison died in April 2024. I first met Alison in 2009 when I started doing Runfurther races, she had been doing their races since 2006.  From then onwards I regularly saw her constant smiley face at many ultras and LDWA events.  

I was aware that she was a highly regarded doctor specialising in liver patient care but did not realise quite how far reaching her dedication to this had reached. She was a consultant hepatologist and had always gone the extra mile quite literally fund raising for her patients by running the London Marathon in 2010. After 25 years as a doctor she was determined to continue making a difference after her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in 2022.  Many charity runs post diagnosis and a book with sales going to charity have raised almost £14000 for a scanner at her hospital in the north Midlands and for British Liver Trust.  Her just giving site is still live and can be found here https://www.justgiving.com/page/alison-brind-1673269656137

The book is titled ‘I never stop’ and will be a good read with many adventures running and trekking both in the UK and abroad. I will remember Alison for her humour and ready smile.  I have fond memories of collecting sheep’s wool with her on one run as she was convinced it would provide padding for her sore feet and that the natural lanolin would help too.  I was awed in our early friendship to find that she had completed the Petit Trot Leon, a tough team event in the Alps. You would never know it from her quite humble nature.

Alison was worried that she would disappear and be forgotten- No Chance! She will be remembered by so many with such fondness.


Alison Brind – Nick Ham’s memories

I learned of Alison’s diagnosis by a strange fluke. In early 2023 I’d been trying to contact my cousin by text then by calling, but was getting no response. Eventually I got an answer but the voice at the other end didn’t sound like her. My mind was churning as she told me early in the conversation that she’d been diagnosed with cancer. The jaunty, up-beat, matter-of-fact tone of her voice, even with that devastating revelation, made me realise that the “Alison” in my phone was Alison Brind. My cousin is also called Alison and I’d been talking at cross-purposes. I had to offer my profuse apologies at my mix-up, but she wasn’t bothered in the slightest. She told be that there was going to be a fund-raising Trentham Gardens parkrun on 28/01/2023. I attended and was amazed at the turn-out. There were 698 finishers but I’m sure there were more. Perhaps some just went along for the fundraising  and didn’t go through the finish funnel. Alison stood on a bench to give a talk about the liver charity she was working so hard to fundraise for before sending us off on our 5k journey.

Photo courtesy unknown parkrunner.

I knew Alison from way back on the LDWA events, including the 100s, then from the beginning of the Runfurther champs in 2006. In those early years she was confused by many, including me, with Joanna (Jo) Miles. Both were of similarly short and slight stature with a shock of dark curly hair. Neither of them minded being mistaken for the other. They’d become used to it. The earliest Runfurther leaderboard I have is from 2007, and I see in that year she completed the Haworth Hobble (Wuthering Hike as was), The Fellsman, Manx Mountain Marathon and High Peak 40.

Alison took on some very big challenges abroad, sometimes in extreme conditions. One of them was La Petite Trotte à Léon in August 2006. It is the toughest of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc series of races and can take up to 6 days to complete. Her team of three was called The Midget Gems.

The Midget Gems about to set off on La Petite Trotte à Léon, August 2006 (Alison on the left).

I often wondered how her slight frame withstood what she put it through. I sensed that she didn’t just push herself to the limit, but beyond the limit. Her grit and determination were remarkable. One big event we both did was the Swiss Jura Marathon stage race in August 2008 (350km over 7 days from Geneva to Basel). She breezed through it – just another week at the office.

Alison with three other Brits at the start of the Swiss Jura Marathon beside Lake Geneva.

I only ever knew Alison as a long distance runner. I didn’t know her line of work until recent years when, in conversation at races, she mentioned about driving home the message for people to look after their livers.

I attended the memorial service for her on Friday 3rd May 2024 in a favourite country hotel near Trentham where she had had previous celebrations, like this was to be – a celebration of her life. The parked cars had to spill out onto local roads. Two conference rooms were packed for the occasion. A live video feed fed into the second room where I was and on-line for anyone who couldn’t attend in person. The celebration of her work life and running life, tinged with the inevitable sadness, was followed by a large buffet lunch for the well over 100 attendees. Copies of “I Never Stop” were available for purchase. I was hoping there would be. I availed myself.

Alison was, and is, held in very high regard by all who knew her.

StokeonTrentLive tribute article including video. 8th April 2024.

The Fellsman 2024

My favourite race of the year. This year I did a little better than last year, ate more and only spent 20 minutes shivering at Cray, rather than last year’s 90. Claire caught me up and we finished together again, over an hour quicker than last year. Next year I plan to eat EVEN MORE! and not have to stop at all.

Courtesy of Andy, the leaderboard has been updated to reflect the results of the Fellsman here.

Karen had a pretty good run, her write up is below the fold. Mine will follow when I’ve had time to finish writing it.

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Karen’s Calderdale Hike

Calderdale Hike

 The third race in the Runfurther series this this year and a ‘new’ route for the Hike with Long, medium and short options. We were back in the cricket club for the day and the promise of chip timing, more food at CPs again and better food at the end!

As usual we drove across the night before and put up flags and banners. It was quiet, apart from a spell where the police helicopter responded to a stabbing nearby, and I slept well. Bob had decided to do the ‘short’ walk and so as we were up early I took the boards, mint cake and prizes across to the hall. Gradually runners started to appear and there was much discussion about possible routes to take at various points around the course. It is point to point so you get to chose your route between CP and the suggested route is not always the best for speed. Despite my recce I was still undecided about a couple of sections but confident enough to know what to expect and a vague idea of the route as a whole. After a tough time at H55 I was nervous and anxious about how well I could do. When Phil told me Claire was ill and a DNS I was cheered by the thought my Runfurther points might not be so bad but then Sarah appeared- she had a late entry. Ah well. On the plus side she had no idea where she was going.

The forecast was very mixed and uncertain with a bit of everything predicted at some point. It wasn’t going to be cold though. The race began at 9am with it’s usual hilarious split! Most runners going down the driveway, those in the know taking the sneaky back path and others standing bemused and wandering what to do. Within minutes another choice saw some veer right onto the land and then fields of the suggested route whilst many of us stayed left and on lanes for longer. I made a determined effort to reign in my speed but knew the flog up Luddenden would help slow me anyway. Here again there were several options and I was confident that mine was faster and easier underfoot. It proved to be so as I got ahead of Phil again and avoided congestion on a steep narrow muddy path.

Glad to be going up not down these

It was nice to leave the tarmac and head over fields towards the golf course and then Ogden Water.  Lots of runners were now being passed. The CP in the car park was busy but we soon left the crowds and headed up onto the moor again. Footpath knowledge again helped me keep up with the ‘twin men in shorts’ and also Phil who kept appearing from my left. In fairness he had done no recce, doesn’t know the area and was relying on reading a paper map. Once on Hambledon Lane they shot ahead only for me to catch them as the dithered at the start of the conduit path. They all headed down onto the ‘suggested’ route but I knew it to be a muddy mess with deep puddles despite what the OS map suggested. I opted for the conduit- flat, mostly dry and easy running. I got to the CP on the road at the same time as the ‘twins’ but missed Dave W taking photos.

Winners

A short road section and a track led to another conduit- again Phil appeared from my left. It was the last I would see of him as easier nav let him put his speed to use.

More and more walkers were now being caught, including Andy who helped us set up the new Runfurther. From Top of Stairs I was back on familiar trails and Haworth Hobble route and the CP at Grain Water Bridge soon appeared. The ‘twins’ were just ahead but Phil was gone.

Phil and map

We were soon off the moor and heading to Walshaw before the start of the long long land westwards. I had been dreading this but actually managed to run pretty much all of it and stayed with the ‘twins’. We were so busy concentrating on catching walkers ahead that all three of us missed the next CP as it was just off route. Apparently there was a notice but we thing it was hidden by a group of mountain bikers at the gate.

The ‘twins in shorts’ I saw a fair bit of them

The short road section up to Widdop Reservoir was soon over and we were trotting across the dam. The guys pulled ahead slightly here and it stayed that way all along Gorple track/ Pennine Bridleway. They were too far ahead for me to shout when they stuck to the suggested route. I took the route Kevin had suggested and it was better- all downhill and all on very good track.

Widdop in the sun on my recce

At Hurstwood car park I confessed to having missed the last CP and asked if the guys had been through. No, they were some way behind and I never saw them again. I stuck to the suggested route despite the step slightly overgrown path to the track and then it was easy running to Long Causeway. The road section here is never great but a surprise CP with food boosted me before the nasty muddy drop and climb to Mount Cross Lane. The next section was Hobble route. The mud near the golf course was not as bad as I expected and after Cross Stones we stayed on lanes heading east before the drop to the canal. Here I was caught by Jonathon and this proved a real blessing as we pulled each other all the way to the finish.

Big thanks for making me try/run

I had promised myself that at this CP I would judge which route to take. Adam and Kevin both said the canal was only about half a mile longer. Provided I could run/jog and so not be too bored I would go that way. It was less interesting than up over the moors but had to be faster. I think the two guys at the CP were laying bets on who would go which way! It was an effort but there was no real excuse not to run and before long the outskirts of Hebden appeared along with crowds of tourists.

You can always see it but at least we were not going up there today

Local knowledge soon gained us distance as we diverted off the canal, through the park and onto paths by the river and railway before the streets of Mytholmroyd. We were both starting to flag now and slowed to eat. A loose pact of stay together and make the other keep running emerged as we started along the rail-side path to reach the final CP at Brearley. From here it was only about 5km, first long more rail-side path and then on steeper and steeper lanes up to the finish at Beechwood.

Having a hilltop venue means it always a long steep climb to the finish and you can see the church for miles. We concentrated on picking off walkers and not slowing down too much. I had thought we might just break the 7 hour barrier but it was not to be.  Jonothan pulled ahead on the last section of lane and shot to the right of the church before I could shout No. I went left and back in through the small path, just beating him to the finish.

In Claire’s absence I had managed to be first female in 7hrs exactly and 6th overall.  I will never be as close to Phil ever again! I was tired but happy. All day I had been running and waiting for Sarah to catch me as she had on H55. I really pushed to prevent this but I needn’t have worried- she had made a serious nav error and was a long way back.  Lesson learned- start more slowly!! A good day out with just two bursts of drizzle- except for the later runners who had rain. Bob had already finished and I sat chatting and refuelling with him, Phil, Francis, Ian and then Dave L and Pete C.

The timing seemed to have worked well for the race and the food was certainly back to the  old standard with the food at the finish especially great. I hope they get more entries again next year as I suspect the numbers are still a bit down on their peak. It is a great set up and I like that the route changes every few years.

More and more friends appeared and once the rain stopped Bob and I went out to take down flags and banners. Nick was still eating so we transferred stuff to his car and said our goodbyes.

2023 AGM and Turf event

This year we’re aiming to do an event using the sort-of-orienteering app Turf for the AGM. The meeting will be held at the Shoulder of Mutton Mytholmroyd afterwards. Flyer attached below, along with Karen’s big introduction doc to Turf.

Simple instructions are: install the Turf app, create a user and go take some zones where ever you see them. You’ll soon get the hang of it.

 

Flier 2023 AGM

Turf Help for Runfurther