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Lord Lawson of Beamish

by Val Baxter

March 10, 2017

3rd to 5th of March, what a weekend !!!

The weekend for me started on Friday, I sat on the doorstep looking at my gleaming car thinking what it would be like after 200 miles down the A1. So we set off for Aylesbury to go and see no.1 son. I had a race on Sunday that I had done a lot of work preparing for, even to the point I bought a new pair of fast shorts, not the fastest; red ones wouldn’t have gone with my blue vest. The thing was, I had twice raced Mark in the park, but not at Aylesbury … his new home park. He had beaten me both times, but I was feeling quite good and confident, especially with these new fast shorts, but was too frightened to risk pulling anything the day before my target race.

So Saturday morning was spent wandering round the town seeing where Mark lives now, then a nice pub lunch before heading off to Cambridge. Meanwhile, in a parallel universe, the club were travelling to the Northumberland countryside, this was for the last harrier league of the season.

The under 17/20’s, featuring several of the youngsters just into this bracket, and this weekend supported by the under 20’s, won their age group……*whoop, well done*

The senior men won promotion, in second place, with an unexpected cameo appearance making a good contribution to the cause. Great to see the lads moving up to the first division. Unfortunately, the men and ladies crossed on the tables as the ladies tried in vain to stay in the top flight.

While this was all going on, I was wandering round Cambridge, wishing I was chasing round one of my favourite XC courses. I have to say these days we have some great XC courses, I love them, Thornley, Druridge and Alnwick must be the best though.

Anyway, we walked back to the hotel we were staying in and made preparations for our ‘night before the race’ meal. I was meeting a colleague from work who lived local, and we dined on fine food and drink, pasta and coke (other options were available). Had a nice night and wandered back to the hotel for a restful early night.

The next morning I was getting collected at 8:15 and going to the start with Hannah and 3 of her mates. raceready

It was decent weather when we left the hotel, but by the time I was down to vest and shorts the wind had started to get up and the rain was getting a bit nasty, and as I looked round there were so many people, mostly wearing t shirts over their vests, it was a bit yukky.

Not as big as the GNR, but still 9000 runners, and at the start I was on my own. I turned to speak to the man on my right wearing a Bishop Stortford club vest. He said he knew Birtley as he looked at my vest, apparently he used to run the youth club at Barley Mow….. Small world!!

We decided to try to run together, he was after 1:40 and I was hoping for 1:45. I was thinking if I could stick with him for 7 or 8 miles it would be made a bit easier. The race started slowly, it was my first big race for over three years and I had forgotten the frustration of the crowded start, but shortly after a mile the crowds thinned out and we managed to wind it up somewhat. The route ran through the city , then out through the village of Grantchester, featured on the television. The course was very flat for the first 4 miles or so, and I seemed to be starting to open a gap from my new mate, and had to make a decision. I was thinking I wouldn’t be able to maintain the pace, but thought I had to try. At around 5 miles a decline, and I made a break, picked up the pace and my Strava showed a 20 second increase in pace.

By the time I had reached the 5 mile marker, I was starting to think about no.2 son and Chloe. They had travelled to Manchester to take part in the Trafford 10k. A traditionally fast race, and Adrian was wanting a PB.

I went through 10 miles in 70 minutes, and that felt good, I was definitely going to get my target I would have had to do elevens for the last three miles. This was just like the old days, again, and it’s always this one… I missed the 11 mile marker, but managed to keep it going, and spirits lifted when I saw the 12 mile marker. The last mile, I was shattered, worked hard and tried to keep it going, but lost about 20 seconds , but when I saw the finish line, and ran past the 13 mile marker, it was like ‘Chariots of Fire’ … Except I don’t think I did go any faster. Finished happy though, ducked 95 minutes so was 10 minutes better than I had realistically hoped for.

After the race I found Linda, and she couldn’t wait to tell me, Adrian got his PB and finished in 31:49. We had texts from him, and he and Chloe had enjoyed their runs, were happy and heading home. Adrian said the weather for them had never eased, but for me, once we started it was almost perfect, a bit blustery at times, with random showers, but fine by me.

After the race, Mark came through for lunch with us, and we strolled round the city gawping at the magnificent buildings. The evening was great, invited to be the guests of Tom Goulding for a formal dinner in his college, a great experience. After dinner Tom took us round the university’s buildings and shared a lot of knowledge that he referred to as trivia, but we found interesting.

On Monday, I was stiff! Made a much bigger impression on my breakfast, then another tour of the city with Linda’s cousin, who has lectured in Cambridge Uni. We travelled back after a light lunch, and made it back in time for my usual Monday evening run, although this time it was my recovery run.

It was a great weekend of running!


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