March 8, 2014
In the old town of Wallsend, 3.5 miles east of Newcastle, and home to the Roman Fort Segedunum, was a little known sporting event taking place. Less than 200 athletes met on a field behind Willington and Howdon boys club to compete for championship medals. This event was the North East Veteran Cross Country Championship, a rearranged fixture following the cancellation of the original venue at Darlington in January. The event was great and well organised, and although very competitive, competed in a great spirit of friendliness.
My day started well for me, feeling great on Saturday morning is a bit alien to me, but it is Lent, so my evening tipple last night was a diet lemonade, and then a hot chocolate for bed. The thing is, I was only looking after myself today, my mate was working so I had nothing to motivate me, nothing to rush for, and that was probably the start of my downfall. I lounged round, drank my coffee, and ate my weetabix (3 of) and watched the world indoor championships then I realised…….ooooer! I am going to be late!
Now, I have run races in Wallsend before, road race and x country so I was sure I would find the venue no problem, but that wasn’t to be. I know Val is super efficient, and that the location and postcode would be on the web, but unfortunately Val didn’t realise what an I.T numptie I am, and she only posted the location on the calendar. That must have been the only place I hadn’t looked. I went on Facebook and the web, and even the vet’s website and just couldn’t find it. (Val I need you to either e-mail direct to me instructions, or a navigator who doesn’t work weekends). Anyway, I rang Dave Coulson, the club’s only other competitor in the championship. (Can you believe I know someone at the club who doesn’t like to admit she is a vet…….ha ha. You know who you are!!!). Dave gave me directions, over the phone, across Wallsend and got me there in time…..much appreciated.
When I got there, the ladies were already running. Nobody from our club (one entrant injured and stuck at work anyway and our Tracy chose the Intercounties over this event ;)), but Maggie Lorraine, formerly a Birtley runner, was competing for Gateshead and taking silver medal in her age group. The race is quite low key, generally just the local runners compete, not many travel far for these races. The winner of the race had probably travelled the furthest, from Hartlepool I believe. That isn’t far for the North East championships which I believe will cover down as far as Leeds.
Dave and I prepared for the race, spiked up and then warm up time. Dave had the family with him, and if you took out the women who had run previously they probably were about 20% of the supporters around the route.
Dave was only running in his second vets event, but I am an old hand at these now. (I must have been running as a guest previously, cos I am not old enough to have run in a lot of vets competitions). To be a vet these days you only need to be 35 and so although we weren’t running against the likes of our Ade, or Lee, there are still some good runners competing, and it isn’t as easy to hide in the masses cos there were, I am told, only 47 in our race.
The race set off at what I would say is break neck pace. My first mile was 6:36 (ha…don’t worry, they weren’t all that pace). Dave set off with the leaders, there was no way I could keep up with that pace, although the race is against everyone, you always seem to mark yourself against the people you know, and I am getting fitter, but still don’t seem capable of catching any of my team mates.
The course was actually quite good, not too testing, but enough to make you have to work. It was firm under foot except for maybe 20 metres (that is 21.8 yards for the vets in the club who haven’t gone metric yet.) Slightly uphill on the way out and slightly downhill on the way back, and 4 laps. The laps thing didn’t bother me cos like I say there were no torturous bits that we had to repeat.
Just to let you know the sort of standard we are talking about, Sunderland’s Tim Field, a real quality runner from the 90s was 4th overall in the race, and the race was won outright by Stewy Bell. Dave Coulson was first in for Birtley (I was 2nd) but Davey did 6 1/2 minute miles, and was 16th in the race. Dave beat me by almost 2minutes…Grrrrr!!
After the race we retired to the boys club for the presentation, I was saying to Dave that it is a great atmosphere, I was standing near the door with him, and just about everyone who came through the door spoke to us, even just a polite hello, but enough for you to feel welcome. One of the good things is that when you are racing in the vets, you don’t always know where you are in the race because of the 5year categories, and that proved to be right. Third place in his category Dave Coulson, and a bronze medal in a championship event, well done Dave. The beauty of bronze though, as opposed to silver, on presentation night unless the lighting is good, that bronze could so easily look gold!! Incidentally Danielle said that the feller who won the 50-55 category couldn’t be that old….cos he had a pony tail!
During the presentation I received a text from Tommy saying Adrian had run well, and was first in from the North East in the Intercounties (aaah so that is where everyone was). Adrian texted as well saying he had a pretty decent run?? Well there is two different views of the same race. Well done Ade. Hope Dave remembers to take his medal to the club on Tuesday, fly the flag for Birtley vets Dave, glad I was there to see it
PS For anyone interested, here’s the race route.
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