Blaydon Race, 9th June 2024

“Aa went to Blaydon Races, ’twas on the 9th June, eighteen hundred and sixty-two on a summer’s afternoon”. So go the words of the Geordie national anthem, but when we set off for the Blaydon Race on the 9th June 2024, it didn’t feel much like a summer’s afternoon! In fact it was distinctly chilly with the threat of rain and, as we waited for the metro, I was regretting only having my shorts on, but thinking that my last minute change from running vest to t-shirt was the right move. As the metro crawled its way into town, getting later and later, Gill and I were getting stressed about missing the baggage bus and set off from Gateshead Interchange down the hill at a fair lick. Desperately trying to spot a baggage bus, I was running to and fro before being told that it was a “baggage drop” in front of the Baltic. Panic over and at least I was now nicely warmed up, though there was still 50 minutes to get cold again before the start of the race!

Crossing the Millennium Bridge, I couldn’t see the expected group of sky blue runners at the agreed assembly point before I spotted Luke Woodend looking equally bemused. It turned out that they were all keeping warm inside the Pitcher and Piano and soon we had a good number of us ready for the usual pre-race photoshoot, gossip, words of encouragement, discussion of injuries and preparation of excuses.

We took our place in the start pen, where a group of us (me, Sarah Kerr, Roberto Marzo, Paul Robinson and Heather Steel) found a position not too far from the front and kept warm moving to the music and joining in the traditional singing of the Blaydon Races. As we were walked to the start line, it started to rain and I feared a soaking but it stopped before it got going. Then we were off!

It is always a fast start to the Blaydon, so I was trying not to go too fast while keeping Paul and Sarah in sight for as long as possible. It was a bit chaotic as we had to weave in and out of slower runners, and no doubt I had faster runners cursing me as they tried to get past too! To be fair, I was being overtaken by more runners than I was passing – and that seemed to be the way all the way through the Newcastle Business Park before settling down as we were “ganning alang the Scotswood Road”.

The rain having held off and the wind being nothing like as strong as it had been over the previous few days, it was actually a good day for running. That, and the inevitable quick start, meant that I went through the 5K mark faster than I have managed to do a parkrun for the last 12 months or so! Unfortunately I couldn’t maintain that pace and slowed considerably for the second half.

Once over the bridge, I always like spotting other Claremont Road Runners on the out and back section – it is a boost to get and give shouts of encouragement to each other before starting the long slog up Chain Bridge Road. By this point, I always give up any thoughts of times and positions and just want to finish. However we were soon in Blaydon and turning to the finish. From here on in, there is always a lot of support which is greatly appreciated and helps take the mind off how tired you are! I liked the change to the finish route this year, it was much nicer (and more spectator friendly) running on the tree-lined path to get to the finish field rather than through the industrial estate as in previous years.

Finish line in sight, I looked at my watch and knew that I would be below 40 minutes, and thought “That’s alright, I’ll take that!”. So, tired but satisfied, I headed through the funnel to receive the traditional Blaydon fayre of beer, crisps and a ham and pease pudding stottie and look for my fellow sky blues.

As ever, there were some very good performances. Mark Anderson led us home with a very impressive time of under 35 minutes, followed by Roberto Marzo and Eric Adams. The next 3 Claremonters could not have been closer – only 4 places and 1.1 seconds separating Sarah Kerr, Paul Robinson and Laurie Johnson. It would have been something to see that as a straight race if they had all started together – Sarah winning by 0.9 seconds from Paul, with Laurie just 0.2 seconds behind. Sarah has definitely cracked this running malarkey; now she just needs to learn how baggage buses work (don’t ask).

Everybody did well, with even our back markers of Gill Milne and Shilpa Iyanna finishing in comfortable under the hour mark. It was Gill’s first Blaydon for many years having sworn “never again” after a particularly hot one. She found this one much more to her liking, saying “I enjoyed that, lovely to run with Shilpa and very happy with my time”, before saying that this was definitely the last time!

On our way to the queue for the buses back to the city centre, I got a very pleasant surprise. A friendly face from North Shields Poly caught me up and as we walked together, he told me that I had won our age category – he was second. I hadn’t expected it, and hadn’t looked to see my official time, but he showed me the results on his phone. The long wait for the bus didn’t seem so bad then, even when it was interrupted by a call from Sarah re baggage buses (as I said, don’t ask).

Well done, one and all! The results below are in chip time order.

144Mark Anderson34:54
216Roberto Marzo36:06
287Eric Adams37:09
297Sarah Kerr37:14
299Paul Robinson37:14
300Laurie Johnson37:15
492Tom Tinsley (1st M65)39:26
559Jim Crinnion39:59
672Heather Steel40:56
682Holly Porter41:04
819Nikoletta Szlovak42:06
950Mungai Wairia42:58
977Nicki O’Brien43:10
1050Aaron Mansell43:40
1105Julie Cross44:04
1355Dean O’Brien45:38
1497Cate Walker46:25
1500Lucy Keating46:27
1523Howard MacLennan46:35
1594David Lydall46:59
1850Rachel Hurdman48:25
1929Liz Denyer46:53
2187Luke Woodend50:25
2453Sophie Richardson51:55
2799Sophie Ellam54:06
2816Charlotte Johnston54:13
3303Gill Milne57:55
3306Shilpa Iyanna57:56
Tom Tinsley -