Virtual Good Friday Relays, Easter Weekend 2020

******* Updated with Results ***********

In the world of social distancing, club relay races can’t happen, can they? Even local institutions like the Good Friday Relays. And how we miss dragging ourselves out of bed on Good Friday morning, picking up teammates and looking for a parking spot in Newburn Riverside Business Park before flogging ourselves for 2.2 miles and being amazed at how fast some of those lads and lasses can run!

Tyne Bridge Harrier Simon Pryde, he of Radio Newcastle fame, obviously missed it too, so he decided to organise a virtual relay. He posted his idea and the rules for the race on the NEHL Facebook page on Thursday. I saw the post on the Thursday evening and, not having read it properly, thought it far too short notice to try to organise some Claremont teams – it is hard enough organising you lot for real relays!

However, there was time as Simon was generously allowing for runs on Good Friday, Saturday or Easter Sunday. The rules were very relaxed – make a team of 3 (mixed teams allowed) – each member then runs their own route of 2.2 miles, record their time and send it to Simon. The only rules for the route were that it started and finished in the same place so that there could be no dodgy downhill cheating!

The Claremont ladies fast pack of Catherine Young, Sarah Kerr and Heather Steel formed a team and I foolishly told Paul Robinson that I would make a team up if he found somebody else – he found Kris Axon. So we had a Claremont lads team too.

Catherine was the only one to actually run on Good Friday and she got the girls off to a great start. Catherine’s route was a there and back along Grandstand Road and the Great North Road which she completed in 14:02.

The other 5 of us all ran on the Saturday. First out was Sarah Kerr, who had a similar route to Catherine but ran on the gravel path inside the Town Moor, which must have slowed her down a touch. Being Sarah, there had to be some drama and she realised that she had stopped her watch a bit short of the 2.2 miles! An appeal to the adjudicator, ie Simon, confirmed that the run could count if we added the extra time using her average speed. So Sarah’s adjusted time was 14:18.

I must have set off for my run while Sarah was in the middle of hers. It was a strange feeling and I felt very nervous as I put on my Claremont vest and checked on Map My Run for where my turning point would be. Ridiculous, I know, as it is just a bit of fun, but as I warmed up, I felt more stressed than I do before a real race! OK, enough is enough, let’s get this done – set the watch and go! It is really hard to push yourself for 2.2 miles with no other runners to chase and no team mates to cheer you on – not to mention having to keep your eyes open for other people to avoid! Watch buzzed after a mile, quick look, happy with my pace, nearly time to turnaround, another check and turn. Danger ahead, two women having a conversation across the road – what to do! Luckily there is no traffic, so I run straight down the middle of the road. Keep going, last half-mile, slightly uphill now – this is tough! Finally get back and I have to go slightly past my start point to make the 2.2 and stop. One of our neighbours is out in their garden and I must have made a right sight – the neighbours are used to seeing me running but not the full horror of the red, sweaty, heavy breathing, crumpled mess that is me at the end of a race! Anyway, 13:55 – slowed a bit, but happy to have kept it under 14 minutes, considering.

Strangely, having finished my run, I now felt part of a team, posting my time on Strava and messaging on WhatsApp. I went back along my route for a cool down jog and passed a lady in an Elswick vest. From opposite sides of the road, we smiled, waved and shouted “Relays? Good luck!” and it felt like we were part of an event.

Next out for the Sky Blues, running the 2nd leg for the men’s team was Kris Axon. Kris ran a remarkably similar route to Catherine, starting from a bit further along Grandstand Road. Typically, he made all our protestations about how hard it is to run alone look daft as he finished his stint in 11:52. Great run, Kris!

This left Paul and Heather to complete the teams. They took turns whilst the other looked after Piper – Paul going first. Paul chose to run backwards and forwards along the road at the top of Saltwell Park, while Heather did laps of the lake. To quote Paul “Racing on your Jack is hard…..also dodging cars, bikes, people with dogs and prams is hard.” – but he still posted an excellent time of 13:33, with Heather running her leg in 14:47.

RunnersTimesTeam Time
Catherine Young
Sarah Kerr
Heather Steel
Tom Tinsley
Kris Axon
Paul Robinson

A big thanks to Simon Pryde for organising this -he has now processed the results and the Claremont teams have done very well.

The lads were 15th overall out of 152 teams, being 13th all male team (mixed teams were allowed and 2 beat us).
The ladies were 41st overall, but 6th all female team.

Full results can be found here.

Tom Tinsley -