May 15, 2014
Well Adrian has been desperately trying to get Mike Openshaw to race. Since Adrian got to know Mike, there seems to have been a mutual respect between the two of them, both keen to train hard and both enjoy running. There the similarity stops. Adrian races most weekends, Mike hasn’t raced since 2005, Mike has broken the 4 minute mile barrier, and won the national x-country, but Adrian hasn’t. Earlier this year when Adrian was injured, Mike took him to a spinning class to help him maintain a level of fitness, and it was there that Adrian started to realise how fit and how good Mike was.
So, Adrian started to ask Mike to run in a team with him, as the Signals relays approached, but he was out the country that weekend and couldn’t; later Mike said that had he been asked, he would have run the Elswick relays, and Adrian, not being one to miss a trick, threw 14th May straight back at Mike saying to keep it free for the Gordon Smith relays.
This was a midweek race, three man relay, two over 16 runners and I won’t state his age, but in Blaydon Races terms one had to be a gadgey! Mike just fitted the bill nicely! I looked at the race on the web, and although we had a very strong team, they were certainly in a class field, in 2012 Morpeth had won, with each runner averaging sub 5 minute miles!!
The race started along the road from the Roman fort, Segedunum, then was a 1 3/4 lap race for each leg, just 2 miles each leg, starting at 7:30. The bit that surprised me was the ladies and men started together, so it was quite a big field (149). It was interesting to see people at the start, I heard a few people mentioning the Birtley team and how they “had two good younguns running, and have you seen who their vet is?”
Well, Tom ran first leg for us, a cracking race, he has run a few relays now as a senior and gaining strength and experience from them, he set off at the front and after the first lap was sitting in third place, but by the time he was handing over to Mike, he was clearly in second place, and only 10 or so metres behind the leader.
That gave Mike a good start. Now I know I said he hadn’t raced for about 9 years but what I hadn’t mentioned was that he still trains hard and does still compete in duathlons, and you could tell. He was away like a shot, racing Guy Bracken for North Shields Poly, a very accomplished runner himself, yet Mike stormed off and caught him early, and opened a 20 second gap (and the fastest vet’s time of 9:34) to hand over to Adrian.
Now Adrian’s leg….. Depends who you are and where you were at the time which tale you choose to follow. I will give you our version, and breeze over the alternative; Adrian had a 20 second lead on North Shields Poly runner and probably about the same again from the third placed Morpeth runner Ross Floyd. I thought that was quite a safe lead for Adrian to maintain, however… Adrian had said earlier it will be really good if Mike hands over to him in first place, he would love that, and hoped he wouldn’t get caught. He knew the course, or so he thought, and was away smiling determinedly. I was confident but Conna, one of the travelling supporters, wasn’t so confident, and said the Morpeth runner was really good… I laughed cos all our runners were good!
When Adrian ran along the top road effectively end of the first lap he had about 30 metres on second place and another 10 metres to third, and they were bearing down on him. Then when they reappeared he was in second place, the Morpeth runner had caught and passed him and North Shields runner was closing on him, and as they turned the last turn he kicked and tried to catch Adrian, but Ade battled and held on, and after 50 metres he finished in second place.
Now…how did they make up such a lead??? Well half way round the course, they were so far ahead and lapping second leg runners that the officials thought he was on his second lap as second leg runner and sent him towards the finish line, at the top of the small incline he saw the finish funnels and realised he had taken the wrong turn and had to go back, and that set him back by 100 – 150 metres, and would you believe when he rejoined the course, the second and third runners were almost on his shoulders. The other version was that the marshals screamed which way to go and Ade ignored/didn’t hear…make yer own mind up!
But this just gets better, the winners were Morpeth, congrats to them, no ill feeling, we know you crossed the line first. The thing is at the presentation they announced that Morpeth didn’t only win, but they smashed the course record as well. There was a lot of consternation regarding the finish, and a lot of apologising by officials, however at the end of the day the history books say Morpeth harriers won, and they hold the course record.
Mike has been very supportive of his young mates, and spoke later to Adrian. He has said that they were good gutsy runs from the lads and that they should carry that forward into the North Easterns, and not to worry, he won’t be able to get lost on the track!! Full results of the race can be downloaded here.
Anyway Mike, Adrian says he is sorry, but can we do it again next year please??
Oh and by the way…if you talk to Mike in front of his wife Hayley best call him Michael!!! Don’t say I didn’t warn you… 😉
Posted in Race report 4 years ago