June 12, 2014
Monday 9th June saw the traditional spectacle of the Blaydon Race, the second biggest road race in the North East, and there were quite a few Birtley runners lined up among the 4000 entrants.
I’d met up with Lorna and Jamie Graham, Pedro, Dave Coulson, Brian and Ruth in the milling crowds of the Bigg Market, and I spotted Janet and Vince in the distance, but didn’t spy anyone else until the end of the race – not really surprising given the huge numbers of runners waiting to set off. The atmosphere at the start of the Blaydon is quite special and feels a bit different to other races – (maybe it’s the feeling that it’s evening, you’re in Newcastle city centre and should really have had a couple down your neck by now!), but after lining up at the bottom of the Groat Market for almost 25 minutes we were all ready for the starting bell.
Despite doom and gloom forecasts of storms and showers, the weather on the evening was pretty good, though better for the spectators than the runners – far too hot and sticky for us. I don’t know about anyone else, but I could barely see for sweat after the first mile – by the end I was pretty much a sticky puddle! Luckily the crowds were, as always, very supportive, and it was lovely to hear people shouting for Birtley as I slogged past. The first 2 miles flew by, then I spotted a blue vest in the distance and knew someone must be in trouble for me to catch up with them! As I got closer, I saw it was Brian, in the process of hobbling off to the side of the road. I threw a quick “Are you OK?” over my shoulder as I steamed past (sorry Brian!) and think I got a response back!
The fourth mile was a struggle for me, I’d gone too fast at the start, and once we hit the Blaydon Bridge my whole body was just wishing it was a lot closer to the finish than it actually was! I heard Lee shouting encouragement by the water station at Derwenthaugh, and there were a few more voices near the finish line, though I never lifted my head to see who was shouting – at that point I was just concentrating on not dying, and making sure I got through that inflatable arch in under 45 minutes
Once over the line it was time to collect a goody bag containing a selection of drinks (including beer!), a ham and pease pudding sandwich (yuk) and a canny bag of
Tudor Walker’s crisps Was particularly impressed by the T-shirt this year, which has thoughtfully been made in Birtley colours!
Performance of the day had to be by Darren Purvis, finishing in a storming 30:33 and 23rd place overall – great run Darren! Second Birtley runner home was Keith Robertshaw in 33:19, just missing out on a top 100 place at 101st.
Dave Coulson and Jamie Graham had been neck and neck through the race, and despite Jamie trying to make a break for it at the 4 mile mark, Dave pipped him to the post by 9 seconds in a time of 35:14 – nice to see a bit of competitive rivalry between members! Michael Keenan and Ruth Dadswell were even closer, with Ruth shaving a second off Michael’s time to come in at 38:18 (435rd overall and 44th woman), with Lorna Graham being less than 30 seconds behind her to come in as 45th woman – brilliant performances ladies!
The 41 minute mark saw a cluster of Birtley athletes cross the line, with Maria, Ian and Chris all finishing strongly. The Birtley contingent was completed by Val, Sean, Shannel, Janet, Alison, Vince, Pedro and a limping Brian, determined not to break his “never dropped out of a race” record. Well done to everyone who competed!
Pictures from the day can be viewed on our Flickr page.