June 11, 2015
Clive Cookson, Monkseaton
21 May 15
Pedro and I started off from Chester le Street at @ 17:20 to get to Monkseaton High School for the start of the race. Preferred route was via the Tyne tunnel, but delays in the tunnel meant we arrived after travelling for an hour or so. Still arrived in time to relax before the race.
Driving down Rakes Lane in Monkseaton, we noticed a marker at the side of the road which said 6k. It was a distance from the start – as it looked like where the 9 K Marker used to be. We initially thought it was a mistake and one of the local youths has turned the K Marker around from 9k. More about this later.
Monkseaton High School has changed substantially since I last competed at this race. Gone are the old buildings and in its place is a new building that appears to have all mod cons. It looks more football stadium than school. The Race reception was inside the school where numbers and timing chips were collected. A small stall for charity was in operation and there was the facility to have a cup of tea and/or cake. The Clive Cookson race was all hi tech to go along with the building. It was chipped with the throw away chip to be attached to your shoe.
The reason for the location of the 6K marker was apparent when the race assembled for the start. The race was now to be run in reverse! I last ran it in 2011 so the change in course direction may not have been that recent (I think it changed direction in 2014 – Val). The race was to start with the first 2k or so as a gentle uphill incline. This incline was always a great assistance when finishing the race when it was ran in the reverse direction. Looking at the course profile on Garmin maps afterwards – the overall undulations on the course are between ½ and ¾ of those experienced at Raby Castle. It may have just been an optical illusion but the course did not appear to have that many undulations – but felt as if it was a gentle uphill from start to finish. After Rakes Lane the course went through the country roads at “Murton” and then finally back to the school via the local housing estate. Two laps of this course and the race was over.
There was great administration of the race from the car parking, registration and the marshalling of the course. No issues were encountered. It was a warm night which meant no woolly hat or T shirt under Vest. YB mentioned a few years ago that just wearing a vest (with no T shirt) increased your speed by at least 20 seconds a mile. He was spot on with that observation.
There was a lot of Raby Castle still in the legs but the main aim was to run through the pain and get to the finish. The overall time was better than expected nearly 5 minutes quicker than on Sunday. On reflection it felt an achievement to finish. The T shirt received at the end of the race was nice – but they had ran out of the pre-printed version by the time I finished. It does act as a great incentive to run faster the next time though. After the race it was off to the pub. The pub opposite the school was not showing the football on TV so a quick detour to a more local pub (Wheatsheaf) in Birtley remedied this. Pint of diet coke and then off home.
31 May 2015
Bottoms Up Cup Washington
A picturesque setting for this new race
This race is a more than welcome addition to the race calendar. It is a new race from a new club and held on familiar ground. The race was well attended and the reception area at Biddick Academy was busy due to the numbers entering on the day.
For those of you who may remember, the leading light for the organisation of the race is Tim Bateman. Tim was with our club till a couple of years ago. A big thank you to Tim and the rest of Washington RC for a memorable morning.
The race starts on the line (the C2C cycle path) that runs from the Wheatsheaf to Biddick, and encompasses a route around the park eventually finishing at the start line.
There was a large Birtley AC presence at the race which was a welcome sight. The conditions were not ideal for what should have been a sunny warm summer’s morning, but at least there was no rain during the race. A description heard after the race was “it felt like cross country”.
The race would be best described as a semi-trail race. The course initially followed the line towards the wheatsheaff then it veered off to the park on the left hand side. The race was undulating* with multi terrain. The paths through the woods were muddy and this made negotiating through the initial part of the course extremely difficult. Once this part has been traversed then the course became easier. It then followed the tarmac/concrete paths through the Park – just need to remember in future to remove mud from the shoes before going downhill. There were a lot of twists and turns on the course and thanks to the race marshalls who made sure the race competitors did not make a wrong turn. It will be interesting to run the course in drier conditions to see if this makes it easier.
Addendum from Val, who also ran this race – I can’t describe these steps as “undulating” – almost vertical would be nearer the mark! Not a sight you’d normally see in a 5k race, but it definitely made it interesting!
The top end of the picture, zoomed in, showing more steps!