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Lord Lawson of Beamish

by Val Baxter

June 26, 2016

On a bicycle made for two…

What is it about the word championship that strikes fear into the heart of most???

Monkton 25th of June and the North East Masters Championships, arrangements were made for the transport of all the athletes. The team bus was pulled out of the garage… But only to get at the two rusty tandems, and an old three wheeler behind it. Work commitments and trips away seemed to have decimated the team, which consisted of two gadgies and two dames, plus an official on the three wheeler cos we didn’t have enough to share the third tandem. It worked ok, saved a few litres of diesel, or should I be saying gallons as we revert to imperial now instead of euro-metric ?

I say this every time, the Masters is a great place to run with your own age group. Age is a great leveller, so running in amongst your own age bracket gives a great sense of achievement where as you can still be competitive in your race.

When I arrived the car park was full, could hardly find a space on the fence to lie the tandem against, (yeah ok I am labouring the point…sorry). I was there before the first event, concerned as I had entered 2 events and I normally just do the one event and to be honest I am having bother with my hips at the moment. Gerard was there before me, keen spectator through the whole day as the 5k, his chosen event, was just about the last one of the day. Shannel was running the first race, her first race of 3. She did the 1500 and although a medalist, she was surprised that she had been slower than last year; I ran the 1500 and took it a step further than her, I was 10 seconds slower than a month ago. I was gutted, all my own fault, should have known better. The way the races were set I had v35s in my race , and they beat me by about a minute; but were 16 years my junior. (If you did the maths, I am a lot younger than that, just it makes better reading if I pretend to be old)

masters start
Picture courtesy of Darren Towart

Shortly after the 1500, Shannel had to line up for the 200, now Lisa had turned up… Actually I think she had turned up before the 1500, but I am not going to rewrite all this. Lisa was doing the 3k and that was ages away yet, but the masters is as social as it is competitive and it is nice atmosphere to hang round. Shannel was next to run again, she did the 200, she does a great sprint considering she is an endurance runner – 34.2seconds. No medal, but she was racing sprinters (won in 29 seconds). Then believe it or not, Shannel was next up to run again in the 400m, this time though Lisa keeping her company. Silver and bronze for the ladies, Lisa really surprising herself with her performance just under 1:11 and nobody between the two Birtley dames. That was Shannel finished she had done 3 events and had to get back to her full time day job…….mother, housewife, and Gary’s wife, and I reckon by now he would be sitting at the table wondering where his lunch was!!!

shannel at mastersPicture courtesy of George Routledge

At this point Val and Shannel had gone to work and home, so the shouting for me was left to Lisa and Gerard, and everyone else who wasn’t running, cos that is what masters do, encourage each other.

Next up was me in the 800. Felt OK to be honest by now. Hip was sore, but legs felt quite good. Again I was racing against the young masters which made it two in one race as they tore off. I was predictably at the back in the first 400, but tried to kick on at the bell, like I used to a ‘few’ years back. I moved up a few positions, and then managed to get into a medal position with 300 to go. I heard David Hughes on my shoulder at the last bend and tried to kick on again, but it didn’t happen, and as he sailed past me I watched my medal flutter off out of my dreams. Gutted, later when I looked at the results, I wonder to myself he beat me by 0.8 seconds, should I have been able to hang on? Well we will never know! To be fair though my splits were even, so happy with that.

yb at masters
Picture courtesy of George Routledge

Next up was Lisa. Lisa has form in this race, and knew who she was up against, it was a quality field, and the two North Shields Poly dames set off at a good pace, with Lisa in the following group moving up, and getting into a third place where she stayed to the finish. I believe she knocked 10 seconds off her previous time and got a silver in age category, but third overall. It was getting later now and just about time to head home. I went for a short warm down run with Lisa and came back in time to see Gerard setting off on his 5k. Gerard, a veteran of many 5k taking part in his first vets competition. We didn’t see the end of the race, but looking at the results Gerard ran well (his best 5k time since 2012). That was the end of the competition for Birtley AC, the weather held out, and we had a lovely day of competition.

Just to finish the day off as you would never want to…as I was chatting to Lisa in the car park one of our fellow athletes came and asked to borrow some jump leads for his car. We didn’t have any so 5 minutes later three of us are push starting a Passat (other cars were available). Quads were burning!!! Never mind, we masters race each other then help each other #nicecrowd.

(By the way, for anyone who is interested, the full results are listed here.)

Meanwhile in a parallel universe Rob and his wife were being Yorkshire Sherpas traversing the Three Peaks in Yorkshire. 😉


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