Pier to Pier, 15th May 2022
A decent contingent of Claremont Road Runners headed to the seaside for this very scenic race down the coast from South Shields to Roker. For me, this event is one of the highlights of the North East racing calendar and it was good to be back for the first time since 2019. As I was defending my title of “fastest old man” from 2018 and 2019, I wanted to run a good time. Though, as I am 3 years older, my expectations of retaining the trophy weren’t very high!
It was a murky morning in Newcastle as Gill and I made an early start to get the metro to the start line. We were joined on the train by a group of other Claremonters, so we had company as we walked through South Shields, via the Sports Centre (tip for runners in future years – no queues for the toilet and you can wait in the warm!) down to the beach. Luckily the threat of rain disappeared and it turned into a very nice morning for a coastal run.
It is a great sight to see over 1,000 runners assembled ready for the start as the runners stretch out in a long line across the beach. In an attempt to keep our feet wet and run on firmer ground, we stayed away from the sea, which I think was a good move. The runners soon spread out and I could see Kris Axon disappearing into the distance at the head of the field. Paul Robinson had a good start too and opened a gap on myself, Catherine and Roberto.
At the end of the beach there is a stretch through soft sand and a short, steep climb onto the cliff top path. This is an early warning not too push too hard as it certainly saps the strength in the legs! Now we were running on grass and trail paths, though there was a stretch where they marshaled us onto the road. We passed Marsden Grotto and headed for Souter Lighthouse, which is around the 5K mark. I think this is a lovely stretch of coastline, though I was mainly looking ahead and down at the ground to see where I was putting my feet.
Roberto had pulled ahead of me fairly early on, but I was determined to keep him in sight and not allow the gap to get too large. At one point I thought I was actually catching him, but he obviously paced himself better than I did, and he started to pull away as we approached the beach. I did my best not to slow down on the beach but still lost a couple of places to the speedy finishers. The final 100m or so were the first really wet stretch of the course and the finish line was further than it looked as the funnel of flags and tape started before the line!
After cheering the other Claremonters home, we queued for the excellent goodie bags and t-shirts, assembled for photos and then went along to the presentation to give Kris a cheer. He had finished in an fantastic 3rd position and won one of the beautiful glass trophies that are a feature of this race. Well done, Kris!
As expected, my glass trophy count has probably ended at two, but I was very happy with my run and time, even if I was now relegated to “2nd fastest old man”!
Thanks to Seba for the excellent photos that capture the atmosphere of the day.