Blaydon Race report

Posted: 09/06/2012 in Uncategorized

Let me start by saying it was wet. Very wet. Anyone who’s read more than one or two posts will know that I don’t swear much (on the blog, at least), but it’s fair to say that it was pissing down during the race. The afternoon beforehand looked good and the weather, after a rainy start, was close to being sunny. In fact, it was all looking fab until about five minutes before the race started, when it commenced to tip it down.

A rousing rendition of “The Blaydon Races” at Grey’s Monument

Arriving in Newcastle, the Bigg Market was properly full of runners, warming up, comparing the latest in bin-bag style, and generally doing all the pre-race preparation that goes on. The porta-loos looked like they had a four hour queue, so I headed up into Eldon Square to make us of the facilities in there. Turns out about a million billion other runners had the same idea, but it all worked out in the end.

Before the start

Everything done and accounted for, and I headed back to the Bigg Market and into the Groat Market. The band were playing, and the can-can dancers got underway. A pretty good atmosphere all told. The last twenty minutes before a race seem to take for ages, and as I was searching for a GPS signal I couldn’t see what the actual time was.

How many races get underway with Can Can dancers?

The rain began, a spot at first, then a bit more, then a “bit of a downpour”. Luckily I’d packed my trusty peaked hat for just such an emergency, and a quick fumble through the contents of my waist pack came up trumps. One of the dangers of wearing specs is that a spot of rain will turn your vision to rubbish in seconds.

Finally, the race was underway, the club runners going off 30 seconds ahead of everyone else. So I’m officially a club runner, but I hadn’t joined when I registered, so I was in the back group, but not that I was bothered, I’m not s speedy runner as these things go.

Along Collingwood Street, and up Westgate Road – I noticed the man who runs with a fridge on his back (I’ve heard of him, but this is the first time I’ve seen him) was ahead of me – that can’t be right, but he looked built for the job, and in it for the long run. I think I might have overtaken him, or perhaps he sped off – I never saw him again.

Running with a fridge

On to the Centre for Life, and the rain was quietly drumming along with the beat of everyone’s feet. Down onto Station Road, loop around and up onto Scotswood Road. Now Scotswood Road is the main part of the race, about 3 miles long and undulating up and down along the length down to the Scotswood Bridge. The rain was properly hammering now, and wherever a road crossed Scotswood Road, there was a river running down, and the only choice was to charge through or join the other runners looking for a way around. At one point I had the whole two lanes of the road to myself and everyone else headed onto the pavement.

It’s a stark realisation than a body can only get so wet – I had taken the decision to run in shorts and a vest, though I had a a waterproof and a long sleeve in my pack. They’d only have got wet, so the shorts and vest combo was the way to go. Once they’re wet through, they aren’t going to get any worse. They’re less heavy than additional clothing, and there’s always the chance that the world might dry up, though that wasn’t the case here.

A couple of folk I used to work with, Jon and Richard ran past – it was nice to see them and swap hellos. They kept pressing on and headed off into the distance.

To the Scotswood Bridge, and up the mild incline onto the span – my small-step-same-cadence approach came into play here, with some of the other runners walking (although still a fair number of them overtaking me). Down the other side, and one of the few frustrating things in the race, the road bottlenecked to a path and we had to walk while the runners in front filed through. Not a major gripe, but I find that if i stop then the aches and pains come on, so I kind of jogged on the spot.

Back along the riverside towards the marina, then a switchback, a contra-flow system if you like. Major puddles down here, but a band playing under the bridge. One of the best things about the run was the support – there were bands, a surprising number of people lining the route, including three die-hard Macmillan supporters in a bus shelter shouting encouragement.

The road went through the Chain Bridge estate, with an unexpected road over the railway – could have lived without that, to be honest. A loop around, a quick stop to re-tie an errant shoelace and off along the road to Blaydon. Rain, rain, rain and rain, interspersed with puddles. Over the overpass and back into the last half mile, up towards the playing fields. Feeling good at this point, so I tried to spurt on a bit – overtook a few folk, and into the finishing 200 yards. The finish line was grass, and waterlogged by now. Over the end at 55 minutes on the spot, and into the funnels. Stopped my GPS and took my place in the queue. Plod, plod, plod, then out the end – picked up my vegetarian treat bag – it had a cheese sandwich (instead of ham), a bag of crisps (unfortunately open – think I dropped the bottle of beer on them), a bottle of Wylam Brewery Beer – a special Blaydon Race 150 Year brew, some water, some orange juice and the commemorative booklet. Unfortunately the inch of water in the bottom of the bag (from the rain) had soaked through all of them. Picked up a pickled onion from the pickled onion / black pudding / tripe stall and then my t-shirt. Queue for the bus, back to town and then home for a shower and a well-deserved beer.

The finish – doesn’t really portray the wetness properly

All in all a fantastic race, one that I’d do again, regardless of the rain. I didn’t seem to have a certificate in my commemorative book – may get in touch to see if that was just me, or all the vegetarians.

The bus home – it was neither misty, nor foggy. There was a cloud rising over the finish line from all the steam coming off the runners… 

Stats:

  • Distance: 5.9 miles
  • Time: 55 minutes
  • Average Pace: 9’13” (I think, will check and report back on that)

On the other hand, I did spot my doppelgänger, the other David Anderson who is a member of the Vegetarian Cycling & Athletic Club. It was a fun moment, and it turns out we have the same middle name too… 🙂

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Comments
  1. Allan England says:

    Congratulations Dave! And a grand read too!

  2. Anita says:

    Many congrats Dave on another race run – best of luck for the upcoming halfie (hope it’s a wee bit drier for you!) 🙂

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